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Huge rise in Estonian developmental aid and charitable donations in 2022

A donation collection point run by the Estonian Refugee Council at the former Ekraan movie theater in Tartu. March 15, 2022.
A donation collection point run by the Estonian Refugee Council at the former Ekraan movie theater in Tartu. March 15, 2022. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Russia's war in Ukraine has motivated both private citizens in Estonia and the Estonian government to provide increased support in the form of charitable donations, development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

According to a recent ERR report, Estonians donated €96 million to charity in 2022, a €40 million increase compared to 2021. Over the same period, Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid to all priority countries increased by over €132 million. Estonian development aid climbed to €192.9 million, 220 percent more than in 2021. Of that, €188.7 million were allocated for development cooperation and €4.2 million for humanitarian aid.

Private donations in Estonia mirrored government funding in 2022. Of the €96 million donated to charity, three organizations dedicated to supporting Ukrainians and Ukrainian refugees each received sizable donations — the Estonian Refugee Council received €6.4 million, MTÜ Slava Ukraini received €4.7 million and the Ukrainian Cultural Center received €3.5 million.

Charitable donations made by Estonians in 2022- Source: ESTDEV

Survey shows increase in generosity from Estonian donors

According to ESTDEV, this sharp increase in giving by individuals and the Estonian state is unsurprising considering the results of a benchmark survey involving over 140 countries released this November. The survey asked individuals if they had made a charitable donation in the past month. 52 percent of Estonian adults replied in the affirmative.

Urmo Kübar, from the charity organization Annetamistalgud, pointed out that Estonia has now risen to 28th place among the countries surveyed and that it has also seen the biggest increase in charitable donations.

As a share of gross national income (GNI), Estonia's official development aid — development cooperation and humanitarian aid combined — showed a similar dramatic increase between 2021 and 2022. Last year, it was 0.54 percent, compared to 0.17 percent the year before. That figure is set to level out in years to come, as Estonia has made an international commitment to keep development cooperation constant at 0.33 percent of GNP. The aim being to reach that level by 2030.

Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Source: ESTDEV

All organizations and partner countries benefit from increased funding

However, aid to Ukraine has not come at a cost to other organizations and development partners.

"The three organizations that have traditionally been the most successful fundraisers — the Gift of Life Cancer Treatment Foundation, the Tartu University Hospital Children's Foundation and SOS Children's Villages — are still receiving the same level of donations as usual. Donations to Ukraine have not come at the expense of other areas but in addition to them. More and more people are finding their way to charities, and existing donors are giving more when they see a real need," said Kübar.

In the funding of Estonian development cooperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed €150 million to bilateral cooperation with partner countries and more than €42 million through international organizations. Estonia's main partner countries in Europe's eastern neighborhood are Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Estonia's development cooperation in the African region focuses primarily on East Africa, in Kenya, Uganda, Namibia and Botswana.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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