That was the message of the British Ambassador for Philanthropy Dame Stephanie Shirley at the conference “Philanthropists and the State – Partners for Change”. The forum was organized by the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza” along with the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum and took place on 15th December in Sofia.
Georgi Pirinski, a Vice – President of the National Assembly, welcomed the conference participants. The Minister of Labour and Social Policy – Totyu Mladenov, had sent an official address to the forum. Members of Parliament, philanthropists and corporate donors, and non-governmental organizations also participated in the conference. Dame Shirley presented the international initiative “Ambassadors for Philanthropy” and the British experience with charity. In her speech she highlighted how important it is for philanthropists and the state to communicate effectively.
The discussion was focused on the problems which the philanthropists in Bulgaria face and their possible solutions. The most heated was the debate whether the short text messages for charity campaigns should be exempt from VAT. According to the Member of Parliament Anton Kutev philanthropy must be encouraged beyond fiscal instruments. Milen Vrabevski and the Member of Parliament Petya Raeva highlighted that philanthropist’s motivation is internal and tax relief is not the leading reason for donation.
That was also illustrated by Stephanie Shirley’s personal story. She is among the richest women in Britain and, after a successful business career, she has devoted to philanthropy. By now Dame Shirley has given above 150 million pounds for supporting different causes. She said that often provides funding for innovative ideas which would not be financed by any government.
All ideas and proposals shared during the conference are going to be summarized and presented by the Bulgarian School of Politics to all parliamentarian parties.
The anthology “Philanthropy in Contemporary Bulgaria”, developed by the School, was presented at the forum as well. The book summarizes philanthropic practices in Bulgarian from the Renaissance until present days, provides practical tips for donors and recipients of donations, and presents results from different researches on philanthropy in Bulgaria.
After the conference, the British Ambassador for Philanthropy, Dame Stephanie Shirley had a meeting with Monika Panayotova – the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds, and Dobroslav Dimitrov – the Chairperson of the Foreign Policy and Defense Committee. Both sides shared the common vision that philanthropy should not be framed into complex regulations and that philanthropists should be recognized by the state for the importance of the work they do for the society.
The event was organized under the project “Promoting Philanthropic Culture in Bulgaria”, funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.