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Oxana Razumova of Sensemakers: “If you’re not ready to give it your all, why don’t you just start volunteering?”

If you’re not ready to give it your all, why don’t you just start volunteering? As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oxana Razumova a co-founder of Sensemakers and head of board of Friends Charity Foundation. She is an expert in communications […]

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If you’re not ready to give it your all, why don’t you just start volunteering?


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oxana Razumova a co-founder of Sensemakers and head of board of Friends Charity Foundation. She is an expert in communications and strategy, a strategy facilitator and a philanthropy consultant. Oxana is a Process Communication Model and Emotional Assertiveness Trainer.


Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?

It’s funny how every five years of my life I went to work in a new industry. After graduating from a law school and getting a master’s degree in civil law, I got into the securities Department instead of the law Department at my first job. Then I moved smoothly into PR in the financial sector, and then into the media industry, where I worked for another five years in the largest private media holding in Russia, National Media Group.

Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start your non nonprofit?

When you work in the same place for a long time, there are many advantages — you are well versed in everything you work with, you deepen your professional level, feel free to work in a team, you are respected and appreciated. But there are also difficulties — in my case, it was the lack of opportunities for further growth. In media holding, I worked directly with the CEO and I had nowhere else to grow within the company. Then my friends introduced me to Gor Nahapetyan and he told me about the idea of a professional charitable Foundation that he and two of his friends wanted to build — the Friends Foundation.

Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?

The main goal of the Friends Foundation is to develop the charity industry in Russia. 5 years ago, we launched 3 projects, each of which is aimed at professionalizing this industry. We promote intelligent volunteering through the ProCharity online platform. This year the third set of students came to study at the Moscow School of Professional Philanthropy. We work directly with individual NGOs offering a whole set of resources for the development of the organization — this is actually an accelerator to boost the NGO’s development.

Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?

In the first year of the Foundation’s creation, we began to help develop the Foundation that helps the elderly. On holidays, gifts were sent to the elderly, which were collected by people, and nurses were paid. Together with the Foundation’s team, we worked on reviewing their strategy, coming up with steps to make more people know about the Foundation and, accordingly, help more wards. The Director was sent to study at the Skolkovo business school with the main goal not to get new tools, but to transform her vision as a whole. As a result, at the end of her studies, she created a new strategy for the Foundation, where the main goal was not just to help an individual old man, but to protect and help this group of the population as a whole. After 5 years, it is one of the most famous funds in Russia, which makes large and systematic projects.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

As always, everything comes from childhood. I would introduce a system of teaching philanthropy at schools. Then there are children growing up and becoming adults, including adult politicians and managers, who have a different view on charity in general. And not only as a part of the training program, but also as a part of inclusion in schools. When you are in the same class with your friend, who may not be physically as developed as you, it becomes the norm for you, you learn to help and live together in the same space.

Second, I would organize more serious training courses for NGO managers. The Moscow school of Professional Philanthropy of the Friends Foundation is great. But it alone can’t handle the support of the entire industry.

In fact, the main problem lies in the psychological plane — trust. The more politicians and celebrities themselves participate in charity, the more people get involved, relying on them as role models.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is an intangible and integral substance. This is a process of influence through which the leader receives support from other members of the community to achieve the goal. At the same time, this influence is formed both from external processes that the leader brings, and from internal psychological ones at the moment when he becomes a role model for others.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non profit”. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. This is not a hobby, but a job that requires a lot of involvement.
  2. This is a professional job in which you also need to learn a lot and improve your level.
  3. If you’re not ready to give it your all, why don’t you just start volunteering?
  4. The cost of a mistake is higher than in business, because you have your wards with real destinies and the reputation of the entire sphere.
  5. I often discourage people from creating their own NGO by offering to implement their aid project within an existing Foundation, thus saving resources and creating synergy between a new project and an existing philanthropic organization.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non profit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

So many people flashed through my mind at once. But don’t be surprised, I would tag Keanu Reeves. He does a lot for philanthropy in the world. He seems to be a man with a big soul and a good heart. I am very impressed with his views on life. And perhaps if I could draw his attention to what the Friends Foundation is doing in Russia, we would get the support of the Western community as well and could share our experience. And most importantly, collect more donations and help even more. After all, the Friends Foundation is a fundraising Fund.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?

For me, my entire life is an example of my parents, who always responded to requests for help and never left anyone in trouble. About myself, I think that the most important thing I can do in life is to be sincere, simple and try to be an example for my children. So, I hope, they will grow into good people, and then their children, and this chain will not be interrupted step by step changing the world for the better.

How can our readers follow you online?

Linkedin: https://ru.linkedin.com/in/oxana-razumova-42527520

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.

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