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In the first three months we collected three hundred thousand rubles

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In the first three months we collected three hundred thousand rubles

Vladimir Berkhin on the history of the creation of Tradition.

Vladimir Berkhin in the lecture hall “usa-health-online.com”

How did the Tradition begin? Vladimir Berkhin answers this question very simply: "God so wanted." About the history of Tradition, about which our reader and donor, the president of the foundation, is talking on the Radio Maria with journalists Anna Ershova and Sofia Zhukova.

AE: The Tradition Foundation is 10 years old, which is a rather long time. Tell us how it all began.

WB: Ten years ago – or rather, on July 29, 2009 – we received the first donation and formally consider this time to be the moment of the beginning of work. But even before that, since 2005 there was a portal called “usa-health-online.com”, which we organized with Vadim Shcherbakov. Then we were two young Orthodox people, went to the scripture reading group, where we read the Bible, and tried to understand what God wants from us. And at one point Vadim decided that God wants us to collect all the Orthodox audio that we can find on one site. And not music, but just meaningful audio recordings: lectures, audio books, sermons. Vadim is a web master and programmer, a person close to genius, and, like many geniuses, he is sick of monotonous work. And for such a project in 2005, there was a lot of monotonous work: you had to manually download audio and sign files. And Vadim called me to do a boring job.

Awarding of participants in a joint project with the Danilovtsy volunteer movement, 2012

About six months later, another person came to us, whom I would not call by name, and said: “Friends, you are doing an excellent job, let me pay you a salary so that you are not distracted.” We didn’t specifically look for him, we didn’t think at all that you could get any money for it. He really paid us a salary for many years, a small one, but we could calmly develop and not think where to get money for hosting. By the time he came to us with this proposal, I was working on a construction site, installing some designs, and Vadim went to clients and installed Windows – there was once such a job! The following year, we came up with the idea that there were many good books in the world that for some reason no one had voiced yet, and opened our own audio studio. We found a friend who knew how to read books, because when his wife was in the hospital, he recorded on her cassettes (of a heroic dispensation a man) the entire “Lord of the Rings”! Let me remind you what tapes are: if you made a mistake somewhere, then you have to turn it back and forth to rewrite, in general, it was a titanic work.

Consecration of the office on Leninsky Prospect, 2010

Six months later, a Belarusian migrant came to us and said: “Guys, the way you write audio books is shame and shame, you don’t need to do that. Let me show you how to. I'm a sound engineer. ” He has been added to our team and is still recording something. By 2008, we thought of putting a counter on our site, and it showed that five thousand people roam the site every day. And we thought that, probably, they go in vain just like that: no, they, of course, listen to our audio products, but it would be nice to offer them something more real. And Vadim came up with a charitable foundation. Before coming to us, for some time he worked as a programmer in the fund "Children.msk.ru". And I was sure that he knew very well how charitable foundations work. Over time, it turned out that he did not know very well, but, thanks to his half-knowledge, he came up with what he did not know. And came up with a very cool. Now there are cool technological solutions for all this, and then it was all done on the knee, but it was invented so well that absolutely all funds working on the Internet in Russia now use it.

We made a website for a year, registered a legal entity for a year, because we were young, green and stupid. Someone had to become the director of the fund. Vadim deals with the site, our other founder gives money for all this joy, someone else should become a director. And I became the director. We asked our first wards from the Give Life fund. Acquainted with us friends who said: "Yes, these people can be trusted." They kicked us out of other funds, saying that they did not know who we were: some strange people came and said: "Give us some children’s contacts." If they had come to me like that, I would have kicked out too! Well, in any case, I definitely would not have happily distributed contacts … And then everything somehow went by itself. In the first three months we collected three hundred thousand rubles, in the next three months – a million, now we collect from three to six million per month and we live on the donations of those who donate to our existence. Vadim eventually left us, choosing a different path in life, another person left, too, and the foundation remained with me.

AE: Now, one can say, the Tradition project consists of several parts: the fund itself, a media library, a lecture hall and a blog.

Listeners lecture hall

VB: We still have a section of the gospel groups, which is now in a dormant state, because there is no one to do this, and there is no money for it. Yes, we have a media library – in addition to audio, we made a library of texts, a video section and a section with church music. Plus, we have a blog called Living Tradition, because we wanted to say something about the problems that modern believers face. Not in terms of payment for housing and communal services or the political situation – it all started with a simple question: “I have been going to church for 15 years, confessing, taking communion, and for some reason nothing has changed. Tell me what's wrong with me? ” We were lucky that we had a lot of writing people in our team, and our "Living Tradition" arose. Sometimes, unfortunately, we slip into a vulgar topicality, without this journalism does not seem to exist, but somehow the blog lives on and the materials appear there regularly. We also have a lecture hall, it consists of two parts: one part is in Moscow, and the other in St. Petersburg. The Traditions website has a program where you can read what lectures we will have, they are held regularly, and from the fall we will come up with a lot of interesting things again.

Moscow lecture hall is held at the charity venue "All Together"

SJ: Do you know your reader? Who is it?

WB: These are people who are more or less concerned about spiritual problems. These are residents of large cities, mainly in the European part of the country. We know this from the dynamics of donations. As soon as night falls in the Urals, donations end. And as soon as they start again – people go to work. These are Moscow, Petersburg and other large Russian cities.

SJ: And if you take not the geographical aspect, but the categories of people? What age? What are you doing?

WB: These are mainly people over 25 years old. People of intellectual labor. Men and women are approximately equally divided. Men are a little more, I do not know why. Maybe this is some kind of special path for us, because we have mostly men working in the fund, which is extremely uncharacteristic of the Russian non-profit sphere and church initiatives. We are in no way associated with the church hierarchy. We are an absolutely lay initiative, and even in a certain sense we are proud of it.

Assistance to refugees from the south-east of Ukraine, 2014

SJ: One may ask, what about the issue of donations?

WB: We need to go to the site and just look … At one time, we came up with everything to publish: how much we donate and how much we spend. And still, those interested can go to the site and find my salary there. We live on private small donations, we have practically no other sources. We do not have a supporting business, there is no government money, except for a couple of third-party projects for which we received grants, but these are just third-party projects, they have very little impact on our lives. The fund’s website has a section entitled “How to Help All Trustees of the Fund at Once” Come in there and see our joyful faces – the main employees of the foundation – with a story about who does what. And you are invited to sign up for a regular donation: once a month a small amount will be deducted from your account to support the Tradition Fund. With this money, in fact, we live. We have practically no other source of income.

Participation in the project “Learning to live together”, 2012

SJ: How do you manage to convince a person to donate? How do you explain to your readers that this needs to be done?

WB: We tell them the truth. We have no other way. We say: look, we are doing this. We do books, Christian enlightenment; we are trying to comprehend in an independent manner the problems that the modern believer lives in, and at the same time we are engaged in charity. People come to us every day, in which someone is sick or dying, something is bad, something is burned out. We check this information, process it, collect donations. And then we come to our subscribers and say: here, dear friends, look what we have, how much we have done, and we would like to continue. Continue to save people from illness and death, continue to engage in cultural and religious work, and if you want this to continue, sign up for regular donations. For three hundred rubles, for five hundred, for a thousand – it does not matter. The main thing is that we know that it is today and it will be next month. People respond. Right now there are 1,060 regular donors – we exist thanks to these people, and we are very grateful to them.

Andrey Savik – “Tradition” fundraiser and initiator of participation in various projects

SJ: Do you yourself donate to any other similar projects?

WB: I have been subscribed to regular donations to several charitable foundations, mainly those that are engaged in some complicated unpopular topic – for example, the Oxygen Foundation, which helps people with cystic fibrosis. This is not a very “popular” sore. I donate to several human rights projects because these people have a harder time living than us. Sometimes I help some other projects, at the end of last year I worked in Greenpeace, in the part that deals with the suppression of natural fires by volunteers. They need money for various equipment. It is impossible to call people to what you yourself are not doing. It's not fair!

Celebrating the 5th anniversary of the foundation in 2015

AE: How impossible, on the other hand, to donate to the fund in which you work …

WB: No, why? Maybe. Sometimes I donate to “Tradition” for some things that cannot be realized in any other way. If I write “help this person” on my Facebook, I’ll definitely have my five hundred rubles there, because otherwise I just don’t have the moral right to encourage me to participate in something I don’t participate in myself. If I call people to some rally, it means that I will go to him. If I call people to donate, it means that I myself have already donated something. In my opinion, this is a mandatory ethical rule.

The material is based on an interview recorded for
Radio Maria

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