Historical Philanthropy in Russia

Opusculum 80 | 01.03.2015 | A research project on the Tradition of Charity in Close Relationship to Government



The Russian tradition of philanthropy has a long and rich history. However, after the October Revolution in 1917, the charitable practice and support for people in need was almost completely destroyed. In the communist system, philanthropy was seen as a left-over of the bourgeois society. The communist government argued that a properly organized society does not have so many disadvantaged individuals. In this course, they tried to reorganize the system rather than to support the helpless. During the Soviet period, the state took over the role of the modern foundations, provided social benefits to impoverished parts of the nation, and supported educational and cultural initiatives exclusively from the public sources.
The period after the collapse of the Soviet Union was especially hard for those who relied on the financial support from the state, since the majority of the social benefits were cancelled or reduced. At the same time, a new wave of modern Russian philanthropy started, albeit hesitantly. Therefore, this paper provides a broad introduction on the history of Russian philanthropy in order to show where it was before its disappearance in the Soviet Period and path the way for modern foundations in Russia.