The FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation was founded in 1996 by three women – activists of the non-profit sector – Evgeniya Alekseeva, Yulia Kachalova and Elena Topoleva. We met at the training on social marketing – the issue which was then totally new for Russia. The potential of the field of activity, little known to NGOs, seemed quite unique, so we decided to establish a new organization – non-profit partnership named “FOCUS”. The goal of the new organization at the first stage of work was to introduce social marketing technologies into activities and practice of Russian non-profit organizations, train fundraising skills, support civil initiatives. We planned and conducted training seminars, provided informational support to non-profit organizations, worked on creating a positive image of NGOs. With lack of information and basic skills in managing non-profit organizations, we have helped many Russian NGOs to develop. Later, we re-registered our organization to become the Foundation, and in 2002 the FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation separated from the FOCUS Foundation and has since become an independent organization.
Since 1998, in response to the HIV epidemic, we have been working on mass media campaigns and social advertising aimed at promoting safer sexual behavior and preventing HIV among young people, as well as at changing attitudes towards people living with HIV. From 1998 to 2004, the FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation planned and implemented the following mass media campaigns: "Reasonable Person - Reasonable Choice", "This Small Thing will Protect Us Both, "How Important it is to be Protected," "Life is Wonderful When Protected" and "HIV - Learn More!".
At the same time, we have kept on working on strengthening the civil society and the non-profit sector. We have developed a series of training programs, including seminars, training courses, distance learning courses, full time and part-time consulting and practical application of acquired knowledge. We wrote several highly popular books on NGOs capacity building, fundraising, public relations, social marketing, etc.
In August 2004, the GLOBUS (Global Efforts Against AIDS) project, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was launched in the Russian Federation. It was for the first time in the world history that a project of the Global Fund was implemented by a consortium of non-profit non-governmental organizations, which were considered worthy and competent to address HIV and AIDS issues in Russia. With the increasing spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia, the whole world was watching closely to see whether non-governmental organizations were able to cope with the task of stimulating the development of an effective national strategy to push back HIV/AIDS and provide the necessary support to those infected with HIV. Since 2004, the Foundation has doubled the number of employees, the organization's budget increases each year, the structure of the organization has been complicated - there are technical support and PR services; we have started providing grants to regional partners.
As part of the GLOBUS project, the Foundation planned and implemented five more mass media campaigns for youth and the general population. Although the campaigns were to be formally held in 10 project regions, the campaigns were seen by people far outside the project regions. A set of our tools to work with target groups is increasing, we use the latest social technologies: quantitative and qualitative research, seminars and trainings, mass and narrowcasting communications, social marketing, consulting, conferences and round tables, public events, a variety of Internet technologies, advocacy and lobbying for legislation favorable to the NGOs.
The staff of the organization has grown both in quality and number, and we are pleased to note that those staff members who once founded the organization keep working here.
Since 2005, we have involved volunteers, who were only a few at first, and now, if needed, we can mobilize up to 100 volunteers at a time; those working with us on a regular basis are more than 30 in Moscow alone.
The number of our regional partners is growing, now they are about forty - large and small, governmental and non-governmental, in cities and villages. Many of these work with us on a free basis, and raise funds themselves for the implementation of our programs in their regions. A good example is the dance4life project, which is implemented in 32 regions of Russia.
We are 12, and our history has just begun. We hope to add many new glorious pages to it and continue our tradition – to be the guide for new ideas in the social sphere and NGOs capacity building.