Our way to charity

The International Women’s Club of Tallinn was founded in 1993 to offer support and help to expatriates, who come to live and/or work in Estonia. However, members of the Club decided soon that they would like to give something back to the country they were living in.

This wish was laid down as a new clause in the Constitution of the Club, which states that the Club helps institutions that support women and children in need in Estonia.

The Club has, through the years, tried many different ways to raise funds for its charity goals: a Charity Ball, Flower Ball, Murder Mystery, etc. A fundraiser in 1998-1999 raised € 3195 and one of the foremost larger events, an Art Auction in 2001, raised approximately € 3250, whilst € 26.779 was raised at a Charity Ball in 2003. None of this would have been possible without the Club’s supporters: various companies, embassies, organizations as well as private persons.

Due to member numbers constantly changing, the Club decided in 2006 to focus all its efforts on one big fundraiser: the annual International Christmas Bazaar.

From supporting one shelter or home one year and moving on to another institution the next year, the Club has changed its charity policy to focus on one main beneficiary for a longer period.
The impulse for this decision came from a letter sent in 2007 by a manager of one of the children’s homes. A quote from this letter explains why the members reconsidered and decided to change their strategy:

„We have felt your support very strongly, but for us, the best about our cooperation has been the moral support, we have got from you! You have been the only organisation, who has been continuously interested in us. We have experienced numerous organisations, who have been interested in helping us in a campaign-form at Christmas-time and we never hear from them again… We do hope, no, we plead, that the Club will decide to stay with us for some years more.”

The Club decided to focus on one institution, which was chosen by the members after long deliberations at a General Meeting in 2008. Since then the Club’s main charity goal has been one “family of children” in Keila SOS Children’s Village. Additionally, the Club has been able, each year, to support a number of other institutions such as shelters and homes.

The needs of the institutions vary. Some of them need a new cupboard; a potato peeling machine or a refrigerator may be needed elsewhere; for others a minivan for transporting children or getting the finances to cover transport of a long-wished for trip for children is at the top of the list. The Club’s priority is given to projects that improve children and women’s quality of life or help them to get the skills and knowledge needed to become independent and self-sufficient. During the years of its existence the Club has supported institutions, children’s homes and shelters all over Estonia.

Besides raising funds for charity goals the members of the Club are also trying to be helpful in a practical way by donating all kind of items directly to those, who need these. The idea rose from the fact that the members of the Club did not want to throw away their unneeded personal belongings or other items when moving permanently from Estonia. It was felt that all used items that were still in mint condition (clothing, household goods, etc.) that might not be suitable for the country they next moved to could be used by others living in Estonia.

The charity work developed and increased over the years, the Club decided to look for a ‘Charity Liaison’ and found among its members someone who was willing to take on this task. She needed to be a permanent resident of Estonia, fluent in Estonian, English and Russian. Besides keeping in touch with the various institutions supported by the IWCT or applying for IWCT support, she also collects and arranges for the transportation of donations from members to the designated institutions.

All the charity work of the Club is done by its members on a voluntary basis without any financial remuneration. Therefore the full proceeds of the International Christmas Bazaar are each year used to support Estonian charities. The members of the Club may not spend many years living or working in Estonia, but the Club is proud to say, that even this small number of women can make a difference.

Charity starts from very small things. Often one does not consider that little thing important, but it can be a life-changer for someone else.

Written by
Karin Andersen
IWCT Charity Liaison
Sept, 2016