EPF is a member of a CSR development network which also includes the American Chamber of Commerce, British Council Armenia, UN Global Compact, as well as CSR-oriented local businesses and other NGOs throughout Armenia. As part of the network EPF has co-organized a series of business luncheons for managers from the tourism, manufacturing, banking and IT sectors. In November 2009 the network organized a two-day training for 20 businesses on communicating CSR Strategies and maximizing short-term benefits of CSR through marketing.
For a donor an endowment is a sum of money invested in a trust, with only the “income” being spent for charitable purposes and “principal” being preserved. Endowments appear to be one of the most effective means of assuring financial sustainability of civil society, cultural and educational institutions.
Armenian legislation does not currently offer any tax or other incentives for businesses to engage in philanthropic activities. Currently only 0.25% of company ‘income before tax’ donated to ‘charitable organizations’ are exempt from profit tax, which is not a sufficient incentive for such donations from companies. Moreover, the income from ‘economic’ activities of non-profit institutions is treated as ‘profit’ and is subject to profit tax.
The Goal of EPF’s project is to create a favorable legal environment for the development of endowments for foundations, cultural and educational institutions and to improve legislation to increase philanthropic activities.
EPF hired a team of consultants from Grant Thornton Amyot, in cooperation with the European Center for Non-Profit Law (ECNL), to conduct an assessment of Armenian laws and practices as they relate to endowments and philanthropy. The comparative assessment of local practice examined the German and Czech experience in Endowment building, as well as similar practices in Russia and the United States. Following the assessment, the team developed a draft Law on Endowment funds for Armenia.
With a series of intensive consultations with policy-makers and potential beneficiaries of the project, EPF has begun advocating for adoption of the draft Law. EPF will further promote establishment of Endowment practices in Armenia, linking its legislative initiative to its community and other philanthropy work and by brokering a public dialogue on the issue
In the fall of 2009 EPF, in cooperation with Lodestar Foundation, organized a half-day seminar on Social Entrepreneurship for businesses, investors, and private foundations with presentations by experts from the Ashoka Foundation, Community Foundation Network, and the Institute for Philanthropy.
With leveraged funding from the Czech Foreign Ministry, EPF is working with the Czech Fundraising Center and the Resource Alliance (UK) on a regional initiative to promote social entrepreneurship in Armenia.
The project started in 2009 with an assessment of the non-governmental sector in both countries, the legislative framework regulating non-profit organizations, and the state of Social Entrepreneurship development. EPF organized a four-day practical training seminar for 17 NGOs focused on selecting, testing and planning the income generating ideas and/or practice. The best business plans will be awarded start-up grants early in 2010. Selected training participants will also take part in a study visit tour to Central Europe to see best practices of NGOs successfully generating resources through business activities.