Letter from Vladimir Potanin

Philanthropy has become an important part of my life. In 1999 I created a philanthropic foundation in order to implement projects in education, culture and philanthropy development in a truly effective manner.

News and Events

The European Foundation Centre and the Vladimir Potanin Foundation are launching a new philanthropy leadership exchange programme. The first edition of the exchange will take place from 5-8 November 2019 in Brussels

Year in Foundation's History:
  • 2018 — The Foundation Opens the New Tretyakov & Arzamas Lounge

    The New Tretyakov Gallery, which permanent exhibition focuses on the XX century, acquired a unique space for the museum visitor. At the same time the educational website Arzamas.Academy opened an online mission of the chief national museum. 

    The project constitute a long-term collaboration of the Tretyakov Gallery, Arzamas.Academy and the Foundation. The Lounge is a multimedia library and a design space where visitors can immerse themselves into the world of contemporary art. Books, films and interactive exercises developed by the Arzamas Academy aim to instill people’s interest in culture and transform their experience of a traditional visit to a museum.The Lounge will become a venue for lectures and discussions on art of the 20th century. 

    Along with the Lounge the online mission of the New Tretyakov Gallery on the Arzamas website was launched. Apart from the documentary series, the online mission of the Tretyakov Gallery offers the first season of the My Vision podcast, dedicated to Mikhail Larionov, Alexander Deineka, Geliy Korzhev and Mikhail Roginsky.


    2017 — Donation to the Tretyakov Gallery

    The monumental work The Picture and Onlookers by Erik Bulatov is his post-modernist homage to one of the most famous paintings in the Tretyakov Gallery, The Appearance of Christ Before the People by Alexander Ivanov. 


    In it Erik Bulatov depicts a crowd of people looking at Ivanov's masterpiece in the museum.The gift to the museum was given by Vladimir Potanin.

    With this milestone work of Erik Bulatov the oldest Russian national museum launched a new program of the Art Patrons and Donors. The museum intends to replenish its collection with works by modern Russian artists from the period 1960-2000, many of which can be found in collections abroad.


    2016 — The New Philosophy of Philanthropy

    In November 2016 the foundation’s top management introduced publicly a new strategic vision of the organization which is based on the 18 years of our support for culture, higher education and development of philanthropy in Russia. 





  • The new framework comes from an independent in-depth analysis of the impact, which the foundation's programs and activities have achieved in Russia. E.g. the Vladimir Potanin Fellowship program has made a significant contribution to the development of business and intellectual elite in the country by supporting more than 26 thousand students and 2 thousand university professors. The cultural programs have led among other results to a powerful community of museum
    professionals, and in the field of philanthropy the foundation?s input is recognized as an impetus for the boom of grant giving organizations in the country.

    The new concept of the organization development roots in the creativity as a key way


    to change the world for the better and in the leadership paradigm that the foundation exploits to advance the grantees' professional achievements for the bigger interdisciplinary effect. 

     2016 — The 'KOLLEKTSIA!' Project


    In September 2016 the Centre Pompidou unveiled an extraordinary donation of more than 250 works of Soviet and Russian contemporary art assembled through the outstanding efforts of the Foundation,

    and presented to the Musée National d’Art Moderne thanks to the generosity of the Foundation and the collectors, artists and their families. Taking place in 2016 among a series of events paying tribute to the role of donors, the exhibition highlights once again their crucial importance to the development of cultural heritage institutions.

    Without pretending to be exhaustive, this ensemble of works by major artists offers a panorama of some forty years of contemporary art in the USSR and then in Russia, covering the most important movements.

    The exhibition of these new acquisitions formed part of the programme of the Franco-Russian Year of Cultural Tourism.


  • 2015 — The Case Study  

    In the spring 2015 the case Building a Legacy of Leadership, which examines the creation and evolution of the Foundation, was completed by an independent group of researchers. The lead author of the case is a visiting professor at Oxford University, senior director and co-founder of Partners for Change Gayle Peterson.


    The case study looks into how the Foundation was built during dynamic and turbulent times in Russia. Using the analytical lens of Deliberate Leadership, it details how the founder and senior staff worked to create a philanthropic resources that reflects the culture of Russia while also pushing leadership development and systemic change in order to address some of Russia’s most complex problems. Developed for the Said Business School’s Impact Investing Programme at Oxford University, the case was written to target mid-career professionals taking part in an executive education course introducing them to the principles and strategies required to make successful social investment decisions.
    The case study is available at the Case Centre website. An two-page abstract can be downloaded from the Materials section here.



    2015 — ‘Fostering Leadership’​ exhibition in Brussels

    The Foundation became the first Russian organization to present its photo exhibition at the Philanthropy House in Brussels. The opening of the ‘Fostering Leadership’​ exhibition curated by the
    Vladimir Potanin Foundation and brining to light the Foundation’s 


     grantees achievements provided a catalyst for an international dialogue on the way in which foundations can effectively fund culture. In advance of the exhibition opening, the Foundation co-organised a roundtable with Bosch Stiftung​ which brought together philanthropy professionals and creatives from across Europe to discuss the best way to nurture innovation and break down the perception of ‘culture’ as something that remains elitist and untouched by the majority.
    The exhibition gained support of Rossotrudnichestvo and travelled to their centres afterwards. In November 2015 the exhibition was opened at the National Library of Luxembourg. 

  • 2014 — New Museum Strategy


    Marking the 15th Anniversary of its activities, on October 14 2014 the Potanin Foundation made a presentation of its new museum strategy.

    The main priorities of this new strategy are openness and accessibility, education and training, supporting museums as modern centers for education in arts, history and sciences, 


    support of professionals and experts. To achieve the established goals, the Foundation launched a number of new programs.

    The Partnership Program is going to unite the Foundation’s resources with the ones of leading Russian museums to implement various initiatives in innovative spheres.  The Museum Guide Program is aimed to promote those museums which are ready to surprise and attract visitor by means of their location, rich or unusual and unique collections, infrastructure, appealing atmosphere and active experts.  The international cooperation program called Museum Bridges) aims to help museums get acquainted with the best examples of museum activities and practices in Russia and internationally, to introduce new formats in museums’ operation. 

    The Foundation also modernizes the program A Changing Museum in a Changing World, which has been in operation since 2004. Its focus shifts onto the support of experts and museum staff members aiming at up-to-date project approach and solutions, applying innovative methods which help at the same time to better preserve and interpret Russia’s cultural heritage. The Program also will focus on strengthening collaboration ties within the professional network community as well as with outside organizations.

    2014 — The Russian Lounge

    In May 2014 the Russian Lounge at the Kennedy Center opened its doors for the audience. The Russian Lounge was made possible thanks to the gift by Vladimir Potanin, a donation presented on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy Center, in 2011.

  • This contribution has provided an opportunity to present American audiences with an image of contemporary Russia stepping aside from traditional historical and cultural clichés.

    To implement the Russian Lounge project, the Vladimir Potanin Foundation held a closed design competition. The concept of the project was developed by its curator, Ms. Natalia Zolotova. The winning design by the artist Mr. Valery Koshlyakov and the architect Mr. Sergey Skuratov offers a unique and new vision of Russia, jointly created by architecture and painting. 

    The former Golden Cirlces Lounge has been transformed to include new, spectacular architectural forms, such as the shining white corridor of a new, spacious bar ascending from semitransparent entrance doors and a grandiose painting. An unsual feeling of air and dynamics in a closed space is an allegory of the eternal ambitions of humanity to aspire above and beyond, a thirst for movement, and the illusion of overcoming material borders. 

    2013 — Vladimir Potanin joins the Giving Pledge Initiative


    Following the decision to donate a major part of his wealth to philanthropy, Mr. Potanin became the first  Russian corporate leader to join the Giving Pledge Initiative. In a statement he affirmed his continuing  commitment to supporting education, culture


    and philanthropy development, and referred to the  establishment of his Foundation as the first step in reaching his long-term goals.  “I hope my example will inspire people in Russia and other countries and will demonstrate to the world that  the Russian traditions of philanthropy are coming back.” 


  • 2013 — The “Emerging Societies – Emerging Philanthropies” International Forum Russia


    Vladimir Potanin Foundation stepped in as an active member of a working group initiating the idea of an emerging market philanthropy forum.



    The forum is a unique event bringing together leading philanthropy practitioners from Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the South East Asian, African and Arab regions. The overall goal of the forum is to stimulate mutual learning and debate among philanthropists and to provide a platform for future cooperation. The forum provided opportunities for interactive discussions on the following themes: how social change is understood and could be achieved in emerging societies; where relations between governments and philanthropists could lead; how challenge of sustaining philanthropy beyond first generations of donors are met in different giving cultures and how philanthropic values are communicated in different societies.


    2013 — New format of the Vladimir Potanin Fellowship Program

    In 2013 the biggest project of the Foundation – Federal Scholarship Program – was reshaped and got a new format uniting in it professors and master degree students through various  grant competitions. The Program now aspires to encourage major

    changes in Russian educational environment prioritizing the projects involving joint activities of faculty staff members and postgraduates from 75 Russian universities, thus becoming much more open and mobile. It focuses on the idea of partnership and combination of educational process and socially valuable activities.

  • 2012 — Endowment Growth Strategy Program


    The Vladimir Potanin Foundation announced in 2012 the launch of a pilot two year Endowment Growth Strategy Program aimed to promote endowments in Russia, facilitate the implementation of efficient fundraising technologies and encourage wider involvement of individuals and organizations in the endowments development 

    process, which is an effective social technology.

    The Program’s partners are Russian Economic School and Russia Donors Forum. In 2013 based on the projects implementation, using his personal assets Vladimir Potanin made a contribution to the endowments for 5 non-for-profit organizations which took part in the Program and demonstrated real breakthrough in fundraising. More contributions are to follow in 2014. The overall budget totals about $685 000.









    2012 — Launch of the Master of Sport Administration Program


    The Foundation announces a new scholarship program for the students of Russian International Olympic University. The Program is aimed to help the applicants to accomplish the degree of Master of Sport Administration and focuses on nourishing a new 


     generation of highly professional sport managers encouraging those students who already have some experience in sport management or sport volunteer activities and sport social projects.

    Russian International Olympic University opened in Sochi and delivers teaching in English. 20 students of the University from 12 countries have received the Vladimir Potanin Foundation’s scholarship.

  • 2011 — Museum Guide Festival


    In 2011 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation  held for the first time the Museum Guide Festival - a new type open and socially oriented event which presents under the same roof all Foundation’s museum focused initiatives and provides at the same time a discussion platform for museum experts (curators, designers, artists, journalists, 

    museum managers). The Festival has the idea of creating an up-to-date, open and available museum space outside museum walls, making museums more attractive to the audience.

    The Festival presents a museum as a contemporary art center not only professionally presenting and interpreting cultural heritage but also making it interesting for various types of visitors, involving efficiently top-notch modern technologies. It includes expositions, discussions, open lectures and master-classes by leading Russian and foreign professionals.


    2011 — Vladimir Potanin announces a $5 million donation to the Kennedy Center 


    Vladimir Potanin makes a gift of $5 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a natural expansion of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation’s philanthropic activities in Russia. "I believe the Kennedy Center has been playing


    a very important role in building strong cultural relations between our countries by presenting the greatest Russian artists to the American people," he said.

    The donation included additional funding from the Vladimir Potanin Foundation aimed to open the Russian Lounge and the Foundation guided the design of the new lounge to showcase Russian arts and culture, and a multimedia zone to highlight Russian culture.






  • 2010 — the Hermitage Museum Individual Research and Travel Grants Program


    In 2010 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation continued its long-term support of the Hermitage Museum with a new project - the Hermitage Museum Individual Research and Travel Grants Program. It stimulates international

    collaboration and experience exchange helping Hermitage curators to organize study visits to leading world museums, conduct research outside Russia and bring back new knowledge and innovative museum technologies. 

    2010 — Vladimir Potanin dedicates the majority of his fortune to philanthropic goals

    Mr. Potanin announced  his intention to turn over most of his fortune to philanthropy in 10 years’ time,  setting the first such example in Russia. “There won’t be an inheritance of my fortune. My capital should  work for the

    good of society and continue working for these social aims,” said Mr Potanin in an interview  with the Financial Times. Over the coming decade he will be enhancing his overall spending on philanthropic causes.  








  • 2010 — The First Publication Program

    The Vladimir Potanin Foundation launched the First Publication Program, which is designed to support publications of unique but under-researched museum collections. It supports museum collaboration, research, and innovative approaches to presenting museum collections in printed form.  The books are distributed free of


    charge among libraries, cultural institutions in Russia and abroad, and museums themselves. 

    2009 — Professor Online Program

    Continuing its support of creative and efficient university faculty members and considering the role of new technologies and the Internet in teaching, the Vladimir Potanin Foundation launched the Professor Online Program which encourages professors to develop their personal websites. The aim of the Program is to help professors to restructure


    traditional courses, apply web-based learning techniques, promote online exchange, provide to students access to the best teaching materials and online courses.

    The Program also facilitates professional exchange of experience and better networking. Through the 2 years of its operation over 50 university lecturers have used the online the platform provided by the Foundation. It also helps to bring together expert faculty members from different universities and subject areas.

  • 2008 — Winter and Summer Schools of the Federal Scholarship Program

    To help the Program’s successful participants to better network and ideally tune their projects the Foundation launched in 2008 Summer and Winter schools for most active applicants. The Schools are focused on student 

    self government, research communities and social projects addressing community needs. They include lectures, trainings and master-classes helping their students to improve and perfect their projects while improving their professional and managerial skills. The Foundation has successfully held 10 Schools with 130 projects implemented. 
  • 2007 —Philanthropy in Russian Regions: Issues and Prospects Forum

    The Vladimir Potanin Foundation participated in the All Russian Forum “Philanthropy in Russian Regions: Issues and Prospects” which took place in St Petersburg in June 2007 in partnership with the Ministry for Economic 

    development and Trade of the Russian Federations. Among the Forum’s participants were representatives of state authorities as well as NGOs and donors dealing with philanthropy development.

    The Forum became a platform for discussions on legislative initiatives related to philanthropy, provision of favorable conditions for NGOs socially oriented activities, establishment of endowments and legislative basis for it, interaction between state agencies and non-for-profit organizations in the sphere of philanthropy.


    2006 — UK Study Visit Program for Museum Curators

    Since 2006 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation together with the British Council has been organizing UK Study Visit Program for Museum Curators – annual educational trips for the winners of the “Changing Museum in a Changing World” Contest. During these trips the most talented and active museum 

     curators and managers from various Russian regions get a unique opportunity to see the inner work of British museums, learn from their British colleagues, study innovative techniques and most successful museum projects in Britain. These study visits help the grantees in their creative and innovative initiatives, promote experience exchange and develop cultural relationship between the UK and Russia, and enable the creation of a community of museum leaders who will shape the future of Russian museums.
  • 2006 — Future of the North Program

    Future of the North is the first joint program of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation and Norilsk Nickel company. The program supports most active and goal-oriented students, future leaders and managers, taking part in the practical training in the company’s branches and subsidiaries. It’s a successful example of how philanthropy and business uniting 

    their efforts can encourage able young men and women to create their own careers and lives, thus developing human capital in Russia.

    2005 — Grant Program for the State Hermitage Museum Staff Members 


    In 2005 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation launched this Grant Program to mark out and encourage highly professional curators, researchers and staff members of the Hermitage, to support their desire for continuous 

    professional growth and development, commitment to research, innovation, and creativity. Over the years of its operation the Program has awarded over 700 grants. This Program has become a continuation of the Foundation’s long-term friendship with the Hermitage and its ongoing support to the Museum. Vladimir Potanin has been the Head of the Hermitage Board of Trustees since 2003, and in 2002 he made a donation from his personal assets to the Russian Federation Ministry of Culture to buy Black Square by Kazimir Malevich for the Hermitage, which has become the biggest private donation to the State since the October revolution. Vladimir Potanin is also the Head of the Board of Trustees of the Hermitage-Guggenheim Foundation established in 2002. 
  • 2005 — The Summit Priorities of Donors in the Sphere of Education and Culture: the Experience of the EU and Russia

    In 2005 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation together with the European Foundation Center supported and organized the 

    summit “Priorities of Donors in the Sphere of Education and Culture: the Experience of the EU and Russia within the framework of the Good Neighbors Program”. The summit took place in St Petersburg. The summit was focused on searching for new ways of cooperation based on humanitarian projects, the experience accumulated by both sides, innovations in donors’ activities.

    Among the summit participants were major donor organizations of Europe – members of the Governing Council of the European Foundation Center as well as representatives of Russian donor organizations - participants of the Donors Forum.


    2005 — The exhibition RUSSIA! at the Guggenheim Museum

    With the support of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation the exhibition RUSSIA! opened at the NYC Guggenheim in September 2005. It became the most comprehensive exhibition of Russian art ever shown in the United States featuring more than 

    275 of the greatest masterworks of Russian art, from the thirteenth century to the present, many traveling for the first time outside Russia.

    The exhibition’s main aim was to showcase the contribution of Russia to the world art culture and demonstrate the special relationship between Russia and the West. According to Thomas Krens, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, “This exhibition will serve as a unique opportunity to introduce the international public to the most valued artistic treasures culled from Russia’s greatest museums”.

  • 2004 – “A Changing Museum in a Changing World” Program

    In 2004 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation awarded first 14 grants to museum curators within the framework of the “Changing Museum in a Changing World” Program.  It grew into one of the longest and biggest Foundation’s Programs in the cultural sphere. 

    The program supports museum projects aimed at the development of new educational museum programs, improvement of tourism technologies, enhancemntof museum research, promotion of museum partnership programs and development of community oriented projects.  It gives priority to the projects focusing on up-to-date standards and application of modern technologies in exposition as well as virtual space, thus helping museums via their curators and researchers to better adapt to the changing world. This initiative also facilitates consolidation of their professional community encouraging professional experience exchange.

    The Program includes an educational component and annually holds workshops where the participants can improve their grant applications and develop their professional skills. 

    “A Changing Museum in a Changing World” is a highly competitive program. Each year  about 400 museums across the country apply for its grants.  Since the Program’s inception in 2003, the Foundation has provided support to 190 museum projects. 
  • 2003 — “When Russia Spoke French: Paris-St Petersburg, 1800-1830” Exhibition

    In 2003 the legendary Hotel des Invalides in Paris hosted the exhibition “When Russia Spoke French: Paris-St Petersburg, 1800-1830” which presented early 19th century Russian and French art works from the Hermitage, 

    the Kremlin museums and the State History Museum. The exhibition was dedicated to the 300 anniversary of Saint Petersburg and was organized with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation. Later that year the exhibition moved to Saint Petersburg where the Hermitage hosted it. 
  • 2002 — Establishment of the Russia Donors Forum

    In 2002 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation took the lead and became one of the founders of the Donors Forum, a partnership of major Russian and international donor organizations carrying out their activities in the Russian Federation. The Donors Forum is 

    a unique organization uniting foundations and companies actively involved in philanthropy development in Russia, promoting experience and information exchange among its members and facilitating representation of donors’ community interests. Since the Forum was established the Vladimir Potanin Foundation has been its active participant and member of the Forum’s Council.


    2001 — The TEFI Grant Program

    TEFI is the Russian National TV Award for best achievements in the sphere of TV arts that was established by Russian Television Academy as an analogue of the Emmy Awards.

    In 2001 the Vladimir Potanin Foundation launched the TEFI Grant Program which supported TEFI winners - best TV journalists 


    covering culture and education spheres, delivering most trustworthy and update information. The Program helped them to improve their professional skills, exchange and share experience with their foreign colleagues.

    Later in 2010 the Foundation continued this program with a logical follow-up, TEFI School - a new Program of Individual Grants for young regional TV journalists and cameramen, thus developing and expanding collaboration with Russian Television Academy.

  • 2001 — The Foundation launches a range of new programs

    Following its focus on education the Vladimir Potanin Foundation expanded the scope of its activities and announced a grant program for young university faculty members. The aim of the Program is to support highly motivated and creative professors 

    and lecturers who are still at an early stage in their academic career and who successfully combine teaching and research. The same year started the Program supporting talented and motivated school students - winners of international Olympiads in various school subjects.




    2001—International Traineeships for MGIMO Students

    The Vladimir Potanin Foundation in cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Russian Federation launched a target program for MGIMO students aimed to facilitate professional training of future Russian diplomats and to provide them with opportunities for foreign traineeships.

    The applicants are selected by MGIMO. Priority is given to Asian and African countries as destination with rare and difficult to master languages, as well as CIS, Central and Eastern European countries. The Program has covered over 500 MGIMO students.

    MGIMO is Russia's most prestigious educational institution for young people with international relations interests. Among its graduates are a lot of prominent politicians, diplomats, journalists and businessmen including Vladimir Potanin himself.










  • 2000 — The Federal Scholarship Program is launched


    The Vladimir Potanin Foundation launched the Federal Scholarship Program, its major educational project, which supports goal-oriented, highly motivated students and potential leaders eager to contribute to Russia’s development and growth. The Program encourages student-led 

    projects aimed to improve student life, address community needs and pursue public interests.

    It provides students with ideal opportunities to meet and network with their like-minded peers via online community and during face-to-face events. Since its inception the Program has involved over 170 000 students from all over Russia and granted over 15 000 scholarships fostering future leaders, opinion formers, decision makers and managers.











  • 1999 — Vladimir Potanin establishes the Foundation


    Using personal assets,  Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Potanin  established a foundation dedicated to providing support to future leaders, active and creative people, and effective institutions in the spheres of education and culture. The foundation also promotes development 

    of philanthropy in Russia, seeking leaders who are  able to change themselves and ready to help others accumulate skills and experience.