3 questions to Natalia Kovalenko

Only 3 days have passed since the announcement of “Stronger with CSS”, charity program, but we have already received applications from different parts of Russia. To help applicants to figure out what our foundation is going to finance and what projects we prefer, in our rubric #3questions we talked with Natalia Kovalenko, director of project activities.
- Natalia, how do you select the programs financed by the fund? Who will you help first?
NK: First of all, we are guided by the compliance of these programs with the main areas of the fund’s strategy - helping children and families with children in difficult situations, including children and young adults with disabilities . The main selection criteria is the effectiveness of the project (the ratio of time, resources and social impact), the geography of the project and the possibility of scaling it.
- How has CSS been reformatted in recent months and was it hard to do?
NK: Now the whole world is in a very difficult situation. This could not but affect the NGOs: everyone urgently had to transfer their activities to the online mode, which is not always easy to do, but somewhere simply impossible. In addition, as we know, coronavirus hit the economies of all countries, many businesses fail, the size of charitable donations has decreased markedly. But at the same time, the crisis forced NGOs to look for new opportunities, new ways of development, new forms of assistance to their beneficiaries, which can be used after leaving the online mode.
CSS Foundation, like other NGOs, had to adapt its activities to new conditions. This was primarily reflected in the fact that now we have begun to pay special attention to those programs that are aimed at helping NGOs in crisis situations and helping to switch to online mode. We also had to review already existing programs with our partners in order to adjust the activities laid down initially in the projects and their budget. Something had to be canceled altogether and allocated funds for other purposes, in other projects - just to extend the period of their implementation. In such difficult periods (both economically and morally), the main thing is to preserve and not lose what is valuable that has already been created and developed, to show particular flexibility in choosing priorities, which we are trying to do now.
- Which of already implemented programs of the fund are you most proud of?
It is impossible to say which of the implemented programs we are most proud of, they are all fantastic and have great social significance. From the first year of our activity, we were very lucky to work with such reliable partners as the Big Change Foundation, non-profit centers Step Up and Space for Communication. This year, our partners are “Ticket to life” and “the Second Wind”, as well as the non-profit organizations UMka (Chkalovsk) and The Land of Mercy (Krasnodar).
But project “Zaluzhye” was definitely the most emotional, where we helped to equip a house for students of the Bielsko-Ustyensky orphanage for mentally retarded children (self-supporting project with accompaniment). This is so far the only program that we have implemented not through our partners, but directly for beneficiaries. Of course, it’s great to see the happy faces of young boys and girls who get their first “home” in their life, to hear touching words of gratitude addressed to them. We keep in touch with these children and the director of the orphanage, Vashchenko E.N., and we hope that this is not our last joint project.