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Interview: With JUDr. Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowsky about Kolowratek Endowment Fund

Eva Ledecká
22.Dec 2016
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7 minutes
Special section

Don’t look for anything supernatural or magical in the name - Kolowratek refers only to the family name. “And if we also manage to perform any miracles in certain cases, then that is all to the good...,” said JUDr. Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowsky, president of the administrative board of the Kolowratek Endowment Fund and administrator of the family assets of the ancient aristocratic Kolowrat-Krakowsky family. 

The Kolowratek Endowment Fund sounds almost as it comes from a fairy tale. Is the history of the Kolowrat family supernatural too?

It was always the wish of my life partner Tomáš Kolowrat-Krakowsky to provide support, in particular to children. Especially talented yet handicapped ones or otherwise disadvantaged children. Our aim was, together with our children Maximilian and Francesca, to complete Tomáš’s charity activity and this is why we established an endowment fund on the occasion of what would have been his 65th birthday, the name of which acknowledges the family nature and focus of the fund. This is why it is called Kolowratek. So don’t look for anything supernatural or magical in the name - Kolowratek refers only to the family name. And if we also manage to perform any miracles in certain cases, then that is all to the good.

Why in fact did you in fact establish the fund?

Tomáš and I often spoke about providing help and support for foundations, endowment funds or individuals. It did happen very often that he was contacted with requests for a contribution to this project or that. He always selfishly tried to accommodate these requests, but closest to our hearts was always a desire to directly support specific people and projects. Tomáš regarded the most important service as being support for children who are most vulnerable and who cannot get by without the helping hand of an adult.

What does your endowment fund engage in?

The Kolowratek Endowment Fund in particular helps individuals, disabled children or children from socially disadvantaged families. We are aware of the fact that great demands are placed on these children and their loved ones every day. We try to at least make their lives a little bit easier and this is why for example we contribute towards medical aids, specially adapted wheelchairs or prams. And in some cases, even a specialised assistant.

Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2
Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2, Okolí Prahy

And another thing which Kolowratek does is to provide support for education and culture. With its foundation activities, Kolowratek helps talented children who are unable to further develop their talents on financial grounds.

We also target socially disadvantaged families which cannot afford to send their members to after-school clubs or to support them during their studies at a vocational college or university. We are a patron of the Children’s Home in Tachov. We have helped to furnish children’s rooms and bought a new fitted kitchen and television. We also contributed towards starter flats for young adults who, after reaching the age of 18 – 19, have to leave the children’s home. The Kolowratek Endowment Fund is also the general partner of the Young Prague International Music Festival which helps young artists starting out in the field of classical music.

How far back does the family’s tradition as a benefactor stretch back?

I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to mention a few examples which document the strong tradition of the Kolowrat family as benefactors, starting in the 14th century with Albrecht the Elder of Kolowraty. In 1355, he accompanied Charles IV to his coronation in Rome. On the way back, they were attacked by rebels in Pisa. At that time, he made a promise that if he survived, he would found a monastery of the Augustinian Order in Dolní Ročov and he was true to his word. Hanuš II of Kolowraty was a generous donator to church art in the 15th century, among other things donating his silver plenarium set with precious stones with relics of the Czech patron saints to the St. Vitus Treasury. The plenarium can now be seen at Prague Castle in the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Another important patron of the Kolowrat family was Count Franz Anton, the first minister-president of the Austrian monarchy, patron of Czech science and culture, president of the Royal Czech Learned Society, co-founder of the National Museum, to which he left a rare library with 35,000 volumes and a collection of minerals in his last will and testament.

Last but not least, Jan Nepomuk is also worth mentioning, member of the administrative council of the National Museum and curator of the Matice Česká organisation. He supported the Czech National Revival, completion of St. Vitus Cathedral and contributed the third largest amount to construction of the National Theatre. Božena Němcová depicts him in her story The Mountain Village as the “Good Count Hanuš Březenský.

Count Henry also continued in the tradition of the Kolowrat family as benefactors, renting the Kolowrat Palace to the National Theatre for twenty years in 1993 for a symbolic price of one crown. The neighbouring service building which is needed to ensure facilities for the running of the Estates Theatre is rented for “the same price”.

The list of patrons from the Kolowrat family and their deeds really is a long one. The Kolowratek Endowment Fund is thus building on “good work” and trying not to interrupt this continuity.

How do you choose the children you care for?

The endowment fund provides financial support on the basis of careful evaluation of each individual application by members of the administrative board of the Kolowratek Endowment Fund. In order to ensure that our help can be provided quickly and effectively, we have created an application form for people asking for a contribution from the foundation on our website. This contains all of the important questions which we need to know the answers to in order to be able to decide who to help. It is not at all easy, you can be certain of that. In part due to the large number of applications, it was necessary to determine certain criteria and to thoroughly adhere to these while deciding on provision of financial aid.

Do you also have any age limit?

Yes. We in particular prioritise children and young people, where the specific limit is completion of university education.

Do you also have any limitations in your aid?

The Kolowratek Endowment Fund is a so-called family foundation. We are thus limited by our own resources and the financial options open to us. The important thing is that all of the funds which we acquire are passed on to those who need them to the very last crown.

And limitation in provision of foundation contributions – the Kolowratek Endowment Fund is governed by law by its statutes which make it impossible to contribute towards an applicant’s debts whatever the reason for their creation.

Do you then mainly contribute financially?

Yes. That is true in the vast majority of cases. However, if an applicant requires legal advice, we are able to help them.

Luxusní vila na prodej - Klánovice - 465m
Luxusní vila na prodej - Klánovice - 465m, Praha 9

If you provide aid, are your employees specially trained or are they mostly healthcare workers?

All of the members of the administrative board and other collaborators work for Kolowratek as volunteers. They perform accountable and time-consuming work without entitlement to any remuneration. This is why we are able to provide all of our funds directly to help the specific applicant.

What are you currently collecting money for?

The number of individual applications for aid increases every year.

Is it difficult to attract potential sponsors and patrons? And what do you offer them?

We are aware of the fact that the willingness of businesses and individuals to support the non-profit sector need not necessarily increase in proportion to the economic growth we are currently registering. This is why we really appreciate the fact that we have a stable sphere of donors who trust us and who help us to fulfil the mission of Kolowratek with their donations. I am however an optimist, so we are not letting up in our efforts to gain more supporters for our cause. We are trying to attract more potential donors. We do make great efforts to think how to properly present the mission of Kolowratek on a professional level, to convince them that our work has a clear direction, that we are striving to achieve something specific and targeted. We want to inspire their confidence that via us, their help makes its way to a lot of people who need it and that their financial donations will be responsibly distributed to the very last crown.

How do you attract them, or how can they contact you?

Letters, contact in person or benefit concerts We also have our own website, and Facebook page where the Kolowratek Endowment Fund provides information about its activities.

Does the end of the year tend to be an easier time to gain funds?

Although the end of the year tends rather to be connected with taking stock and evaluation of our efforts throughout the whole of the past year and planning further activities which could lead to development and prosperity, I do perceive that advent is a time which has its own special strength and opens people’s hearts to charity.

I am glad that employees of Kolowratovy lesy, a.s. also help every year, their activities having started quite spontaneously. They are now for the fourth year holding their Huntsman’s Ball, proceeds from which are donated to the Kolowratek Endowment Fund. It gladdens me inside and fills me with hope that I am surrounded by people who regardless of their interests try to find ways to bring happiness and help into the lives of children whose names the often don’t even know.

It is heart-warming that they organise various Christmas bazaars, the proceeds of which go to foundations and endowment funds, benefit concerts or events held for the benefit of children’s homes. I participate in several of these events myself. This year, I participated in the Christmas Bazaar of the Vision 97 Foundation, a Christmas meeting at the Paraple Centre or an amazing performance by children from children’s homes at the plaza of the National Theatre organised by the Let’s Give Children a Chance association.

Are you planning a Christmas programme for the children?

As I mentioned earlier, one of our long-term projects is support for the Children’s Home in Tachov. It is traditional for collaborators and members of the administrative board of the Kolowratek Endowment Fund to go to the home every year, invited by the director Mr Zdeněk Kropáč, to give the children treats on the feast of St. Nicholas, but also bearing a financial gift.

That changed this year however and the children came to us in Prague. We sang carols together with their choir. Apart from the popular St. Nicholas packs, another surprise awaited them under the Christmas tree – a cheque for CZK 60,000. This was how much was made this year at the previously-mentioned Huntsman’s Ball. This money will be used to fund their leisure activities, various clubs or trips.

What are they asking Santa for most?

It depends on the age of the child. The youngest of them of course would like toys, building sets, a bike or a scooter. The older ones have been drawing pictures of sports clothing, trainers, the girls, cosmetics or a nice winter coat as their Christmas wishes.

What will 2017 be like in Kolowratek?

Auspicious I hope and believe. We would like to increase awareness of the Kolowratek Endowment Fund and for this reason, to spend more time on its presentation.

What would you wish for most in 2017?

When I read through those dozens of applications for support, my New Year’s wish is clear: let us appreciate the health and love of our loved ones and let us do our utmost to bring more happiness to the lives of all those in need.

What should people above all not forget about in life?

It sounds like a cliché, but there are some proven values which always help us to get back up and keep going at difficult moments in our lives: love, hope and faith. And we should above all appreciate every day, have respect for others and know how to enjoy even the little things in life.

You can learn more about the activities of the Kolowratek Endowment Fund HERE.

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