To date, 6,200 medical masks have been distributed in Mureş County by the Mureş Community Foundation. Sándor Gál, the head of the foundation, believes that after the crisis, their task will be to ensure the survival of local civic initiatives.
Founded nine years ago, the Mureş Community Foundation organizes five major fundraising events per year.The income from these, and from other sources, has been used to support some 40-50 local civil society projects with a total of about 50,000 euros in recent years.
“At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, about a month ago, we set up an emergency fund to collect for medical protective equipment – we saw that there was a shortage, and other organizations started raising funds to buy other important medical equipment. So far, we have distributed 6,200 protective masks to doctors in Mureş County,” notes Sándor Gál, the head of the foundation.
“In addition, we have begun to map organizations that work with vulnerable groups. We saw a lot of people starting to work to support the elderly, so we turned in a different direction and found that little attention was paid to those with different addictions (alcohol, drugs), as well as victims of domestic violence. Therefore, we set the goal of supporting the NGOs dealing with these groups, and we would like to provide them with resources even after the crisis has subsided,” noted Sándor Gál, providing an insight into the community foundation’s strategy.
“Before the crisis began, we began to raise money for a permanent and freely usable fund, the importance of which is now greatly appreciated. We can see that the task will not be an easy one: this kind of philanthropy is very far from the mentality of people and companies here in Eastern Europe. Our missed fundraising events will be hard to make up for; we may end up collecting for other target groups or fewer organizations and measure success differently,” said the executive director, outlining the dilemmas.
“We are not prepared for survival. All local NGOsare very much dependent on various state subsidies and project grants; the real stake for most NGOs is survival – cultural organizations are already on the verge of discontinuation. In the next 2-3 years, we need to focus on finding mechanisms that ensure the stability and operation of these organizations,” said Sándor Gál about the community foundation’s vision.
“I don’t feel we can help a wide range of initiatives from the money we’re mobilizing – so we need to rethink what initiatives the local society will need most in this situation,” he concluded.
The Ferencváros Community Foundation is not idle either. We have interviewed executive director Era Barna about what they are doing during the emergency in the 9th District of Budapest.
Here you can read about how the Odorheiu Secuiesc Community Foundation gives money and perspective to the local community in the current emergency situation.
We wrote about the support chain started by the Pécs Community Foundation here.
| What do Hungarian community foundations do in time of crisis?
On April 17, 2020, we held a panel discussion in the virtual space with the leaders of the community foundations of Pécs, Ferencváros, Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) and Marosszék (Scaunul Mureșului). By getting to know the two organisations in Hungary, and the two Hungarian group in Romania, we will be able to get a closer look at the concept and significance of community foundations. We will also talk about what specific actions they can perform to mobilize and support locals in these times.