Romanian United Fund
NURTURING RESILIENCE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
THIRD CONFERENCE OF ROMANIAN AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS
June 5th 2021
Community civic engagement and social entrepreneurship panel:
The sixth presenter was the president of Romanian United Fund (RUF), Mihai Lehene from Chicago. Established in December of 2019, RUF sees itself as a pass-through entity fundraising on behalf of charitable causes in Romania. He spoke of their collaboration with Declic.ro, a civic society online network active in Romania, in developing a video-clip that went viral. The exercise made them believe that RUF can become a global community of philanthropy through partnerships. RUF seeks to support outstanding projects in six area of focus and while in the past year they sought to help initiatives in Romania, they are now seeking partners in the diaspora. RUF reports having provided relief during the Covid-19 crisis to 145 hospitals in Romania, purchasing personal protection equipment and 97 pieces of medical equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars. In education, RUF reports sponsoring together with their partners, e-learning and summer camps in Romania estimated to have benefited over 1,100 children and teachers. Their civic engagement through partnership with organizations in Romania, reports estimates of over 400 packages delivered by volunteers to elderly and vulnerable families in 35 communities in Romania. RUF reports being the second largest funder of the hiking trail project “Via Transilvanica.” Mihai Lehene also reports that the organization implements e-learning courses for 115 diaspora children. RUF has a strict vetting process in selecting partners in Romania, tracking the funding they provide and requesting financial reports from grantees and ensuring they have proper boards and transparency. Several well-known organizations such as Save the Children Romania or Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation are among the grantees on behalf of whom RUF fundraisers in the diaspora. The entity established a “Founding Angels” group of people replenishing RUF’s operational account, sustaining overhead costs. It benefits greatly from the support of a large team of volunteers dedicated to its mission. In his final remarks, RUF’s president pitched the “#playforgood” campaign they are spearheading on behalf of “MagiCamp” in Romania for children suffering from severe burns or afflicted by cancer. He called on participants to sponsor children’s participation on these camps, the cost per child being estimated at $462 with the goal of raising funds for 250 children.