Endowment is part of century-long tradition of the Serbian people and the symbol of care shown by the successful ones to the community. The importance of endowment is reflected in the construction and renovation of buildings which will be used by the broad social community and be significance for social development.
The beginnings of endowment tradition are connected with the Nemanjić family. Today we would not have Studenica Monastery if in 1190 it had not been build by its endower Stefan Nemanja. Many other monasteries were raised like endowments, such as: Mileševa, Žiča, Sopoćani, Gradac etc. One of the greatest Turkish endowments preserved even nowadays is the bridge on the Drina River in the vicinity of Višegrad.
Endowment in the period from the end of the 18th century to World War Two is characterized by the fact that endowers were not noblemen but wealthy and modestly-educated merchants. In the period between the two world wars, this generous mission is connected with great and successful merchants such as Captain Miša Anastasijević, Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac, Nikola Spasić, Nikola Čupić and many others. They gave their homeland permanent gifts of the buildings which are even now used for various purposes: science, education, culture and healthcare.
The Archives of Serbia keep materials about 408 foundations. The University in Belgrade is known to have had as many as 82 endowers, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts – 65, Matica Srpska – about 80, Privrednik 94 and the Serbian Orthodox Church 32.
Some of the foundations were built throughout Europe, including: Dositej Obradović’s birth house in Čakovo, Romania, renovated in 2004 at the initiative of “Hemofarm”, the Belgrade Church in Sentandreja, Hungary etc.
After World War Two, during the communist-era in Yugoslavia, endowment disappeared completely because they were considered as bourgeois works and thus undesirable.
In that period there were as many as 41 acts confiscating the property of all enterprises, foundations and funds and converting them into the national or state-owned property. Such a state of affairs lasted until the 1980s, when there were changes in the legislation framework. Some of endowments fell into oblivion completely and there is no information about them whatsoever.
There are very few new endowers and their significance as modern philanthropists is insufficiently emphasized. However endowment tradition in our country is gradually becoming more important through constructing buildings for public purposes. Endowment as a valuable form of individual cultural initiative should be cherished in order to maintain the tradition.
Delta Foundation was set up in 2007 as the first endowment of a private company in Serbia with the aim of setting an example on behalf of Delta Holding members, of becoming a model and establishing new standards of humanitarian work within corporate responsibility. The mission of the Foundation is “to fulfill permanent social, educational, cultural and healthcare needs of our community through creating and implementing endowment projects”. It constructed its first endowment in Serbia since World War Two and presented it to the City of Belgrade in 2012. That was “Sunce” in Bežanijska kosa, Day Centre for persons with disabilities.
The second Delta Holding endowment, “Iskra” Centre for sport and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in Kragujevac, was presented to this city on June 30th 2016. This unique Sport Centre, which is fully architecturally adapted – without any barriers for persons in wheelchairs, with an orientation field and signage for optically-challenged persons, a speech-amplifying system enabling persons with hearing aids to hear clearly and with no obstructions, – will unify sport, recreational and educational contents for persons with disabilities.