Magazine – Father John (January 2018)
Ensuring the continuity of the projects carried out in Uganda
The loss of the charismatic leader of an organisation, whether a profit-making entity – like a well-known supermarket chain – or a charity – as in the case of the Associazione ITALIA UGANDA Onlus – always begs the important question of how it can continue to pursue the inspirational ideals of its founder. The answer to this question lies in being concrete.
In fact, these ideals have inspired work and this work is their visible form. Pursuing ideals therefore means ensuring the preservation and development of the work.
The Associazione Italia Uganda forms part of the great work carried out by Father Giovanni Scalabrini. It is the operating tool used to support the educational projects, medical assistance activities and charitable works that for over fifty years characterised the life of Father John in Uganda.
Following his death the organisation reflected on the most suitable way of guaranteeing his legacy, whether continuing as an association or adopting a different solution. Of course, no legal form can take the place of human motivation.
Nevertheless, the intelligent use of legal instruments can help guarantee the legacy of a work. With this in mind, some forms of organisation are better than others at conserving the spiritual legacy of a charismatic leader and developing the work that is the tangible form of this legacy.
This is the case of foundations. In fact, foundations make it possible to associate a legacy with a specific purpose: in our case, supporting all entities founded, directly or indirectly, thanks to the apostolic action of Father John. In this way, the present and future legacy of the foundation becomes the economic resource for the activities that already exist in the spheres of education, healthcare and welfare, and for those that will be developed in the future.
At the same time, foundations have just one decision-making body – the board of directors – which ensures the efficient, streamlined management of the body with positive knock-on effects on the development of its work. In a difficult context like Africa, the starkness of the problems is such that they will inevitably be addressed in time. Lastly, foundations are subject to internal and external audits to ensure the consistency between management activities and the goals of the organisation. The consequent need for a suitable statement of activities is a guarantee for all those that wish to contribute to the Foundation’s projects.
For these reasons, following a proposal by the management board, a decision was taken during the meeting of the board of directors to transform Associazione Italia Uganda into a Fondazione (Foundation). For supporters of Associazione Italia Uganda and Father John, this transformation will not bring about any changes: the tax code to indicate for the “5 per mille” donation will remain the same; the tax benefits connected with donations will remain the same; the guarantees on the destination of the funds remain.
In other words, the Association has sought to “do things properly”.
For the continuity of Father John’s work and for the many Ugandans to whom Father John dedicated his life.
Full professor of Business Law – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore