Among the private organisations funding culture, the largest is the Estonian National Culture Foundation (established 1991). The foundation is a legal person governed by private law. The objective of its activity is charity aimed at supporting Estonian national culture through the purposeful accumulation and distribution of financial resources. An eleven-member council of the foundation is composed of Estonian cultural persons who direct the activity of the foundation and are independent in their decision-making.
The Estonian National Culture Foundation supports:
- individuals with scholarships for studies and research work, and for creative and athletic activities;
- organisations with grants for charity in launching and financing projects that are important from the standpoint of developing, preserving and transmitting Estonian national culture.
The Estonian National Culture Foundation’s main sources of revenue are:
- property donations, gifts and bequests made to the Foundation;
- revenue received from the investment of the foundation’s fixed capital;
- revenue received from other economic activities, which is necessary to attain the foundation’s objectives.
The Estonian National Culture Foundation is entered in the register of non-profit associations, foundations and religious associations with income tax concessions according to the Income Tax Act § 11 (see chapter 4.1.4). This means that legal persons may give tax-free gifts and donations to associations entered in the register within certain limits. The limits for tax exemption are:
- 3% incrementally of the total of payments that include individually registered social tax from the beginning of the calendar year, or
- 10% of the taxpayer’s profit of the last fiscal year ending on 1st January of the calendar year.
Certified gifts and donations can be deducted from a natural person’s income, if these are made to the person entered into the list of non-profit associations, foundations and religious associations benefiting from income tax incentives. A natural person taxpayer may deduct gifts and donations in the total amount of EUR 1 200, but not more than 50% of the taxpayer’s income during the year of taxation.
While in 2008 nearly 38 000 people and 2 000 institutions donated almost EUR 21 million to NGOs for various purposes, in 2018 there were many more donors: 125 000 people and nearly 4 000 institutions donated just over EUR 41 million. This includes the social sphere, as well as culture, education and sport. All kind of congregations and religious organisations are on the list as well.
There are some private prizes and awards donated by private companies.
The Köler Prize is an art award established in 2011 by the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia. Its main objective throughout the years has been to give recognition to important artists and art collectives that are active in Estonia and to popularise contemporary art in general. Five artists or art collectives of Estonian origin or who reside permanently in Estonia are nominated for the Köler Prize on the basis of their creative work over the past three years. The nominees for the Köler Prize are selected by the board of the museum. From 2016, the Köler Prize takes place biennially. Financial support comes from one logistic company (Smarten Logistics) and a private family.
Since 2016, LHV Bank and the Composers’ Association issue the annual AU-Award for a new composition. It will be awarded to a composer that made outstanding new music, which premiered the year before. The prize is designed to value both new and established Estonian composers, focusing on new music that speaks volumes and deserves a wide international presence.
Since 2005, the newspaper Postimees has been awarding the Cultural Locomotive, the recipient of which will be chosen by the Postimees cultural editorial board. The decision must be unanimous in favor of person or an organisation, whose good influence on Estonian culture is beyond doubt.