Funding: It is carried out in cooperation with the Living Tradition Foundation and the Synodal Charity Department with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund.
About the project
The aim of the project is to develop social activities of Orthodox parishes and NGOs in order to increase their efficiency in solving local social problems, including those in conjunction with secular and state actors. The addressees and participants of the events are activists of parishes, employees of confessional and secular NGOs, employees of diocesan departments for charity and social service in five regions of five federal districts of the Russian Federation. Social assistance to vulnerable groups of the population makes an important part of activities of many parishes. Their relatively small size and good integration into the local community allows parishes to respond flexibly to the specifics of local needs for social support of citizens and to adapt to specific tasks. We see examples when the parish succeeds in transforming the social environment and realizing social projects. More often, however, such results are not achieved no matter how willing active parishioners are to develop social activities. Insufficient funding is the most obvious obstacle. Still, fundraising may not be the solution in all cases. The Active Tradition Foundation has already held a series of seminars to improve fundraising skills among parish activists. As a result, the effect of training activities turned out to be more reliable after a preliminary social analysis of the local current situation. Practitioners often lack a common vision of the structure of their activities and an understanding of their potential in connection with the available opportunities. Hence, it will be useful to study socially active parishes in order to identify criteria and reasons for success of certain practices, while at the same time observing less active parishes with a focus on their specific difficulties. Such a comparison will make it possible to develop meaningful locally oriented recommendations to increase the efficiency in solving local social problems of the projects that are already being implemented, as well as to increase the general number of social initiatives.
The project will include (1) five ethnographic expeditions to regional Orthodox parishes to study their social activities; and (2) thirty local events (workshops, online lectures, and presentations of the results of the ethnographic research) for the representatives of target groups, which will improve their competence in developing social projects and give them recommendations on their activities from experts. As a result of the project activities, those who organize and implement social activities in Orthodox parishes and NGOs will be able to develop existing and new initiatives based on the unique sociological data and specially developed methodological recommendations on possible strategies for increasing the effectiveness of social projects for the local community.