Lotta Svärd Foundation

The purpose of the Lotta Svärd Foundation

The Moscow Armistice, signed in the autumn of 1944, had unprecedented effects on the practising of the freedom of association and freedom of speech in Finland. The practical application of Article 21 of the Moscow Armistice meant that Finland was subjected to external measures aimed at directing the country’s domestic policy. On the grounds of the armistice, hundreds of associations and organizations were disbanded in Finland, including the Lotta Organization.

In the autumn of 1944, Finnish Women’s Aid Foundation was founded to contunue the relief and aid work of the Lotta Organization. In 2004, the Finnish Women’s Aid Foundation was renamed the Lotta Svärd Foundation.

In its time, the Lotta Organization focused on social aid and relief work, and the Lotta Svärd Foundation continues on that path even today. In accordance with its rules, the foundation provides rehabilitation and assistance to Lottas and Junior Lottas, but it also promotes voluntary civil defence work with the focus on everyday safety, and carries on the tradition by maintaining the Lotta Museum. The purpose of social responsibility at the Lotta Svärd Foundation today and in the future, is to promote caring, support those in need of support, and provide a channel for doing good, while respecting the work and values of   the Lotta organization and its members.

Assets of the foundation

The original assets of the Lotta Svärd Foundation comprise the 36.1 million Finnish Marks that was donated and received from the Lotta Organization in 1944 (around EUR 5.7 million in today’s money). After the Lotta Organization was disbanded, the Finnish Women’s Aid Foundation raised funds by setting up businesses to employ the Lottas returning from the war. The most significant of these enterprises was Work Site Maintenance (Työmaahuolto Oy). Funds received in the 1970s from the sale of the business operations of the Finnish Women’s Aid Foundation have been used, and are still being used, to provide rehabilitation for members of the disbanded Lotta Organization, Lottas and Junior Lottas.

In the 2016 accounts, the value of the Lotta Svärd Foundation’s assets is around EUR 65 million, with the fair value at around EUR 75-80 million. Roughly 80% of the assets is invested in rental housing and 20% in stocks.

Use of the assets and the future of the Lotta Svärd Foundation

In the 2000s, the Lotta Svärd Foundation has spent around EUR 50 million in total on rehabilitation and assistance to the Lottas and Junior Lottas and on community grants. Every year, a total sum of around EUR 3.5 million is spent on rehabilitation, assistance and other support measures for Lottas and Junior Lottas. The annual cost of running the Lotta Museum, maintained by the foundation, is around EUR 800,000.

The activities of the Lotta Svärd Foundation are regulated by the rules of the foundation and the Foundations Act. According to the rules of the Lotta Svärd Foundation, there is no fixed term for the foundation’s activities; they will continue in the future. After the rehabilitation and aid work among the Lottas and Junior Lottas is finished, the focus of the foundation’s activities will shift to training women for various crisis situations, to relief work and to fostering the Lotta tradition. This was the wish of the Lottas.

The Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation

The Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation is competence based. Competence comes in the form of professionals in real estate, medicine, law and investments. One of the board members is a former Lotta with work experience from the Winter and Continuation Wars.

Pirjo Björk

I am Pirjo Björk, Bachelor of Economic Sciences, and I chair the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation. I have had a long career as a bank manager. I have been on the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation for 19 years, the last six of which I have been the chair. In addition to this, I am the chair of the Working Committee of the Lotta Svärd Foundation, among other positions.

My colleagues on the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation are:

Aune Rahola

Aune Rahola is a 96-year old Lotta, and she brings to the board the Lotta aspect. Rahola joined the Lotta Organization at the age of 16, at the beginning of the Winter War. She was a Communication Lotta during the Winter War. During the armistice, she was trained as a radio operator. Rahola worked as a radio operator in the Continuation War until she got married. The couple had six children. After her children grew up, Rahola was actively involved in service personnel canteen activities. Rahola has been on the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation for ten years.

Anja Mäkeläinen

Anja Mäkeläinen has been awarded the Finnish honorary title of Rakennusneuvos and she is a Master of Laws with court training. She has a long career as the CEO of a property development organisation. In line with the principle of inner balance in the Lotta Svärd Foundation, Mäkeläinen’s professional experience has earned her the tasks of developing the rather significant housing and property assets of the foundation, ensuring that the activities remain profitable, and ensuring the appropriate maintenance of the housing stock. Mäkeläinen is the vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation and the chair of the Housing and Property Committee.

Marja Ramm-Schmidt

Marja Ramm-Schmidt is a layer and Master of Laws with court training. Ramm-Schmidt has forty years of experience as a lawyer. Her work is based on her values: diligence, ethics, and justice. Her key priority is to ensure that the foundation and other third sector operators maintain corporate governance. She sees this as a way of ensuring that the purpose of the Lotta Svärd Foundation is realised in the spirit of legislation and regulations and the rules of the foundation.

Kirsti Pakkala

Kirsti Pakkala is a doctor specialised in occupational healthcare. In her time, Pakkala’s mother was the leader of her local Lotta section. This provided Pakkala, at a young age, with an insight into the valuable work the Lottas did during the Winter and Continuation Wars. She has been on the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation for ten years. In line with the inner balance of responsibilities within the board, Pakkala works in the Working Committee, and chairs the Rehabilitation and Assistance Committees.

Leena Mäki-Turja

Leena Mäki-Turja works in private wealth management at Nordea Bank. Because of this, it is only natural that her responsibilities on the Board of Directors of the Lotta Svärd Foundation include asset management. For her part, Mäki-Turja aims to ensure that good asset management enables the foundation to adhere to its rules and implement its duties.

Salla Ala-Jääski

Salla Ala-Jääski is an entrepreneur from Kirkkonummi. As well as running her business, she is working on her doctoral thesis at Lappeenranta University of Technology. Her thesis deals with the funding of social corporations. Among other duties, Ala-Jääski works in the International Cooperation Committee of the foundation.