By accessing our website, you automatically leave your user data to our administrator which allow us to operate the website and conduct statistical research. By continuing work with this website, you agree to processing of the user data


Oksana Oracheva: Foundation’s Performance in 2023

The General Director Interview

What was 2023 like for the Vladimir Potanin Foundation?

Last year became the year of new challenges and reflections. On the one hand, we approached a certain milestone when it is necessary to evaluate our achievements; on the other hand, we switched to a new financial model in 2023. This means we had to adjust our processes to ensure our own sustainability and the sustainability of the projects we support. It is possible to say that the strapline of the past year was the reflection on our performance and the analysis of what we managed to do not only over the past year, but also over a longer period.

2023 marks 10 years since the last significant restructuring of the Fellowship Program. The tradition to evaluate its results was established at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2023, we conducted comprehensive research of its results over the last 10 years: the Research Group “ZIRCON” analyzed the changes among university teachers and students, and we took into account some of these findings in the 2023/2024 competition cycle.

Over the past few years, we have actively promoted the idea of the university’s third mission; universities and NGOs interaction practices; university teachers and students’ personal initiatives; and the integration of social issues into the educational process. It is valuable that this year, when we have completed the significant three-year project with the Higher School of Economics, the idea of the university third mission has become widely spread.

Together with the Association of Cultural Managers, we analyzed museum projects supported from 2005 to 2017 and identified certain patterns that influence the sustainability of a project and its legacy beyond short-term grant support. The traditional Museum Guide Forum was transformed in such a way that it was possible not only to discuss, but also to observe best practices and innovative solutions. For the first time, the Forum was held not only in Moscow, but in several cities – Yekaterinburg, Samara, Yaroslavl and Saint Petersburg. The audience was keenly interested in the Forum sessions: the “Museum Guide – 2023” videos received more than 105 thousand views on VK social media platform. We applied the same approach to the “Sport and Society” conference this year. It took place in Novosibirsk, Tyumen, St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Also, for the first time, we brought together representatives of the endowments supported by the Foundation since 2012. It turned into an industry research seminar. And as part of a special project with TASS, we studied and presented the work of the "Tochka opory" competition winners.

Our anniversary competition #potaninfoundation25 is also a sort of research, reflection on our legacy and exploration of our community. The results will be summarized in 2024, but we can already say that this competition revealed more than we had expected. After summing up the results, we will definitely share our discoveries with a wide audience.

Not only do we study the supported projects, but we also analyze our own performance and, together with partners, find ways to improve it following our mission and principles.

How did the Foundation’s competition activities change in 2023?

We slightly changed our competition schedule this year. Due to the online application process, we know that hundreds and even thousands of applications are submitted at the last minute. And a long application period does not make the process more consistent. Therefore, we decided to reduce the application acceptance stage, thus shortening the period between the decision to participate in the competition and the start of the project. We are sure that in today’s fast changing world this period should be as short as possible.  

Based on the results of the study, we updated the Fellowship Program’s competitions. The research showed that project activities are important today and therefore we put emphasis on the applicants' relevant experience and teamwork in the Fellowship competition.

Today, there is a heated debate on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the educational process and the limits of its application. We allowed students to use AI explicitly stating this in the application. However, in this case an additional personal interview was suggested. Interestingly, there were applicants who used this opportunity.

Speaking about the Master’s Program Faculty Grant Competition, we decided to move away from traditional nominations and give university teachers an opportunity to receive support for the redesign of the existing courses and programs. We are confident that university is a living organism, so the developed educational products should be revised and updated. Such changes should be based on an evidence-based approach and modern educational technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

Speaking about the Fellowship Program, one cannot forget about the Foundation School, which for the second year running was held in the format of volunteer camps. How was this accepted by the community?

This year we managed to find additional resources and increase the number of the School participants. We observe that a small number of people working together can produce impact.

Both students and university teachers participated in the School this year. Not only did they help with the beautification of conservation areas, but they also acted as intellectual volunteers. During the School, they applied various skills: from video shooting to designing strategies for the development of cultural heritage sites. So, our participants not only discovered interesting and unique places, but also received an opportunity for professional development. We are pleased that the participants talk about the School with enthusiasm, inspiration and positive emotions. 

Dealing with feedback has always been and remains a key theme for the Foundation. Could you point out any innovations introduced specifically through working with feedback?

It is important for us to receive feedback from our grantees, operators, and event participants. This helps us to change. It is important that the grant process remains transparent, clear and accessible; and that the efforts our partners and applicants make during the competition procedures are commensurate with the received results. 

This year, we significantly simplified and accelerated the process of signing documents with physical entities. The introduction of an electronic document signing system allowed us to abandon the process of exchanging originals. The new system has been in effect for about six months, about a thousand documents have been signed, and we have already received a lot of positive feedback.

We tried to make the job easier for our experts who evaluate applications. This year, about 800 specialists participated in the independent evaluation process. Every year we have a mandatory rotation of experts to ensure a diversity of opinions and continuity in holding competitions. In 2023, we offered a more convenient data visualization system for experts. This simplified the application process.

In 2023, together with 10 partners we held 20 competitions (13 for the 2022/2023 season and 7 competitions for the 2023/2024 season). It is important to ensure convenient  interaction of our partners with the Foundation, so they can devote more time and effort to the substantive work. Therefore, every year we hold a joint meeting to sum up the results of the competition cycle, discuss how to make routine more convenient, and come up with new solutions.

The Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy Development continues its activities. Its tasks include studying the third sector, exploring the best practices and key trends. What themes was the Center focused on in 2023?

The Center for Philanthropy Development continues its work in two directions, which have become its hallmarks. The first direction is about research and digests, the second is regular informal meetings “without ties” to discuss the most relevant issues for the sector.

This year, the Center actively worked with the competencies of managers and employees of non-profit organizations, ensuring the transfer of experience to NGOs. In other words, the Center was focused on the problem of managing non-profit organizations in the broadest sense.

We also addressed the issue of climate philanthropy for the first time, and our approach was reflected in a special digest. The issue is becoming increasingly relevant as it intersects with the sustainability agenda, ESG, etc. We hope that this publication will stay relevant.

One of our latest studies was devoted to the international practice of managing commercial assets in favor of charitable organizations. Its results, first presented at our “Endowments” forum, are available on the Foundation’s website.

We observe that the number of views, links and downloads of the Center’s publications in 2023 is significant. This means that our research is in demand by the sector.

What was the past year like for the Foundation’s endowments?

Our endowments were formed at the end of 2022, and as of today their operating life is about a year. This is not so much if we are talking about the endowment, a long-term tool.

Within a short-term period, the endowment is always subject to fluctuations. The final financial results of the endowment for 2023 will be known only next year, when we receive reports from our management companies.

These results are significantly influenced by the situation with our long-term strategic asset, Rosbank shares. They make up more than 85% of the Foundation's endowments. At the end of the year, shares are revalued, a “paper” profit or a “paper” loss appears, which affects the endowments.

But long-term strategic investments work differently: the key idea is the receipt of dividends, not the price of shares. In 2023, we received dividends for 2022, thereby adding liquid funds to our endowment.

As of 11 months of 2023, the total volume of our endowments amounted to 84.6 billion rubles. The income we received for 2022 amounted to about 6.3 billion rubles. We used part of this income to finance programs and projects of the current year, and we plan to use part of it to finance our activities over the next two years. It is also important to note that income is not withdrawn at once; the funds continue to work.

Our endowments have a complex structure. Not only because there are six of them, but also because we identify strategic and market investments within five of them. These endowments differ not only in their nature, but also in our approach to working with them. Strategic investments generate dividend yield for us and bring liquid funds. And market investments are a common investment tool in the endowment market.

In 2023, we developed and adopted the Investment Policy: this document helps both us and management companies develop investment strategies for working with endowments and financing the Foundation.

How does the Foundation build its relations with management companies? To what extent is the Foundation involved in managing endowments?

We work with six management companies, each of them has its own investment policy. And although we invest very conservatively, the individual approach of each management company allows us to maximize the final return.

It is important for us that management companies understand the significance of their activities for the Foundation. Therefore, we decided to hold annual meetings to take stock and reflect. The first meeting took place this summer: we discussed our plans and needs in terms of funds. Such meetings should help us stay in the same semantic field.

Financial management and charitable activities are closely connected, we should act as communicating vessels: coherently and harmoniously. Openness, transparency, clear and convenient reporting are important principles of our work. We need to have a clear understanding of our financial situation, as well as understanding of how certain factors can affect it. Therefore, we strive to unify reporting, standardize approaches and documents.

In your opinion, has the Foundation’s team adapted to changes over the past year?

The transition period from one system to another definitely takes more than a year: it takes time for the new mechanism to work in full. Nevertheless, we managed to launch the processes, generate income necessary to finance our charitable programs, and fulfill all obligations to partners and grant recipients. Moreover, we began optimizing these processes to make them simpler and clearer.

We understand that the transformation will continue for some period of time, and it is important to design long-term working plans in order to develop. However, we will continue to experiment and form our internal structure. For example, this year we reorganized our work with endowments, merging it with the Financial Directorate, as we strive to ensure that all financial processes are united.

I am confident that our team is open to changes and supports the search for a format that will be convenient and comfortable for everyone and that will help us to achieve the results.

The Foundation turns 25 this coming year. How will the Foundation celebrate its anniversary?

25 years is an important point. We will try to make this anniversary special for all our grantees, partners, and the whole Foundation community. After all, the Foundation is not only the organization and its employees: it is those with whom and for whom we work.

Probably our key anniversary initiative is the #fondpotanin25 competition. On the one hand, its goal is to tell the stories of our grantees and demonstrate projects that became part of the Foundation’s legacy. On the other hand, we share experience and reflect together on our common results. A quarter of a century is a good opportunity to recollect how it all started, as well as to define the direction for further development.

Tell us about the Foundation's plans for 2024.

The work plan and budget for 2024 have already been approved, and we have a clear idea about what we are going to do next year. We will continue providing financial and non-financial support to students, university teachers, museum professionals, the nonprofit sector, holding competitions and events, organizing platforms for experience exchange, and creating conditions for professional development.

We aim to be closer to our grantees and study their needs, without limiting ourselves to conducting formal project monitoring. We are ready to invest a lot of time and effort into this interaction, because it is of paramount importance to us.

At the same time, we will continue to improve the efficiency of internal processes. We have a large team, it is growing, so we need to tune in to each other, create a comfortable working environment, promote growth and attract new employees with valuable experience and knowledge.

Other news

Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The Vladimir Potanin Foundation held the VIII “Endowments” Forum
06 june 2024

The results of the annual “Endowments” forum, which took place in Moscow 4 June, have been summarized

#Effective Philanthropy
Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The book on culture in the regions of Russia has been published
22 april 2024

The publication is the result of five years of research undertaken at the initiative and with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation in 2017-2018 and 2020-2021

Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The Vladimir Potanin Foundation held its annual conference "Project Legacy and University Transformation"
07 april 2024

On April 9th, with the support of Tomsk State University, the Foundation hosted its annual conference for university teachers

Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The Vladimir Potanin Foundation ranked first in the RAEX rating for the third time
27 march 2024

The Vladimir Potanin Foundation led the list of Russia's top-20 corporate and private NGOs by partnership potential

Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The Foundation presented a study on the effects of the Vladimir Potanin Fellowship Program
07 december 2023

The study was conducted among the fellows and grantees of the Foundation

#Fellowship Program
Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
Evgenia Potapova, Mom, I`m Home
04 december 2023

Winning the scholarship competition helped Evgenia take advantage of the wide range of opportunities provided by the Foundation

Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
The Vladimir Potanin Foundation is holding a conference on social sport
28 november 2023

The conference "Sports and Society: Best Practices in Russia" will take place in November-December 2023

#Power of Sport
Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
Svetlana Yushkova, "Path of Possibilities"
31 august 2023

Developing sustainable scientific and educational tourism in the Krasnoyarsk region

#Fellowship Program
Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
Alexey Prikhodko, "Mathematics in Silence"
30 august 2023

Preparing deaf high school graduates for successful completion of the Unified State Exam (EGE) in mathematics

#Fellowship Program
Объявлены имена финалистов стипендиального конкурса
Anna Makarchuk, "Everyone Matters"
30 august 2023

Realizing an extensive anti-bullying program

#Museums without Borders