Marija Mitrović, Philanthropy and Partnerships Director at Trag Foundation: Joint philanthropic actions are the drivers of positive change

The development of philanthropy and its long-term effects require strategic planning and multi-sector cooperation

“Philanthropy contributes to solving specific problems in the society. Philanthropic initiatives are motivated by the desire to achieve change, express solidarity and responsibility towards the wider society. The levels of philanthropy rise when people realize that problems can be solved through joint action”, said Marija Mitrović, Philanthropy and Partnerships Director at Trag Foundation. This year, for the 14th time, Trag Foundation is presenting the VIRTUS Award for Philanthropy.

Marija Mitrović, Philanthropy and Partnerships Director at Trag Foundation/Photo by: Aleksandar Crnogorac/Trag fondacija

Why did Trag Foundation launch this award?

The main motive behind the VIRTUS Award for Philanthropy is the desire to recognize and publicly emphasize companies, enterprises and individual donors, who supported the community development in a strategic and long-term way, thus setting the best example for others. This award strives to stimulate individuals and companies to initiate and support similar actions in the future. The VIRTUS Award is presented in 5 categories: The Main Award for a contribution at the national level, Award for contribution to the local community in which the company operates, Award for small and medium-size enterprises, Award for a long-term partnership between business and the non-profit sector and the Award for individual contribution to philanthropy. Applications can be submitted until February 25, and more information can be found at the following link:

What contributed to the development of philanthropy in Serbia?


In Serbia, the number of philanthropic actions and the amount of donations increases by about 30 percent every year. The development of philanthropy in our country was influenced by several factors. Primarily, the arrival of foreign companies, who integrated philanthropy into their socially responsible business frameworks. This was adopted by domestic companies that subsequently incorporated philanthropy into their businesses. In parallel, a number of established foundations launched philanthropic initiatives and partnerships with the business sector. Media also played a significant role to increase the transparency of giving by informing the general public on all relevant aspects of philanthropic activities. The development of philanthropy and its long-term effects require strategic planning and multi-sector cooperation. For a more systemic approach, we are also advocating to integrate philanthropy into formal education in Serbia.

Should the foundations initiate philanthropic actions or simply coordinate them?

The key role of foundations should be to identify community problems and direct support where  needed. Foundations can both support the initiatives, instigate philanthropic actions and build strategic partnerships connecting the public, private and civil sector. Foundations are focused on activities aimed to advance the society, and are therefore perceived as philanthropy’s leading force.

How does Trag Foundation support the non-profit sector?

Trag is a regional foundation operating in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For 21 years, it has supported citizens to actively participate in developing local communities in which they live and work. Trag supports people who believe that joint initiatives can achieve significant impact and strive to be the drivers of positive change in their surroundings. During the previous two decades, Trag Foundation supported more than 1,500 successful projects in 215 communities through numerous programs, with over 14 million US dollars invested across Serbia and the region.

“The key role of foundations should be to identify community problems and direct support where needed”

Trag Foundation is also actively involved in the development of local philanthropy and provides support to organizations to raise funds from individuals and companies in their local community and contributes to the establishment of multisectoral cooperation. Trag is also committed to improving the legislative framework, introducing tax incentives for donors and simpler tax deduction procedures.

What international and domestic institutions and organizations would you highlight as your most significant collaborators?

I would like to emphasize the cooperation with USAID, which supports the Coalition for Giving and its “Framework for Giving” project. This Coalition, that Trag co-founded with other relevant stakeholders in the field, aims to contribute to the enabling environment for individual and corporate philanthropy and promote the culture of giving in Serbia and among diaspora. This project achieved significant results so far. The Coalition for Giving conducted numerous initiatives, specifically the annual National Conference on Philanthropy, the National Day of Giving, the Race of Goodness, that is organized in cooperation with the Belgrade Marathon and DobroČiniTim campaign that promotes prominent philanthropists as inspiration to others to launch or support similar initiatives in the future.

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