About the Foundation
Where is your office?
Our offices are located in Warsaw, on Dominikańska 19C. You can find our address and telephone number here. You can also reach out to us via our social media channels: on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat!
Are there any local chapters of the Foundation?
No, we are based only in Warsaw, and we don't have any local chapters. The Collection Centres, which coordinate the Grand Finale fundraising drives are not local representatives or chapters of the GOCC Foundation. Collection Centres allow people, who would like to support the cause, to come together, but they do not work for us, per se.
Do you work all year round?
The foundation works all year round, coordinating equipment purchases, running medical and educational programmes, which are implemented in hospitals and schools in the country as well as handling the organisation of the Pol'and'Rock Festival.
How do I get in touch with you?
Click here for a list of e-mails!
Who controls your work?
The GOCC Foundation meticulously reports on its activity and finances. We send reports and accounts to different controlling bodies, which include: the Ministry of Administration, Ministry of Digital Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Finance and the appropriate Revenue Office.
Is Poland the only country where charities collect money from people to help medicine, for example?
Not at all! Everywhere in the world, different charities collect money or goods to support worthy causes. Each charity has its own mission, such as social activism, culture and arts, youth programmes, international aid and medicine. In Great Britain, for instance, there are almost 163 000 registered charities. Their income exceeds £44 million. Donations from individual benefactors are £19,4 million, while different state agencies contributed £15 million. You can find detailed information about the British NGO activities here.
Who is Jurek Owsiak?
Jurek Owsiak calls himself 'an observer of marvels and transient things'. He is a music journalist, broadcaster and writer. He is also the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation and initiator of the charitable collection known nationwide (and internationally too!) as the Grand Finale. Jurek is also the promoter and mastermind behind the massive Pol'and'Rock Festival (previously known as Woodstock Festival Poland).
Who is Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak?
Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak is a member of the board of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation. She is also the director of the medical division of the Foundation, taking care of all medical purchases and medical initiatives carried out by the charity.
She is married to Jurek Owsiak.
Who is Piotr Burczyński?
Piotr Burczyński is a distinguished children's heart surgeon and a professor at the Children's Congenital Heart Diseases Clinic at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Warsaw. Burczyński is one of the founding members of the board of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation.
Who is Bohdan Maruszewski?
Maruszewski is children's cardiac surgeon, professor, and co-founder of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation. He is also a member of the board of the charity.
He was awarded Silver and Gold Crosses of Merit.
How to become a part of GOCC?
How can I support your work?
There's something that everyone can do to help us! You can pitch in by helping us organise the massive events such as the Grand Finale or Pol'and'Rock Festival. If you don't have enough time to volunteer, but you would still like to contribute, you can make a donation on our website, or become an online ambassador of the charity, for example.
How can I get involved in your work?
There are plenty of options for everyone. Depending on the time you have and the amount of effort you can devote to working with us you can choose to become a volunteer or a member of the Peace Patrol, for example. You can also follow our activity online and become our digital ambassador or support us on the day of the Grand Finale by fundraising or becoming involved in the activities of your local Collection Centre. There is plenty of ways you can become a part of our initiative!
I want to volunteer, but don't know how to do it.
If you would like to collect funds during the Grand Finale, you should reach out to your local Collection Centre. They will take the matters from there and will provide you with all you need to begin your adventure - an ID badge, a collection box, and little heart stickers. You can also become a member of the Crew at the Collection Centre if you have more time to get involved!
Where can I find the list of Collection Centres?
You can find the current list of Collection Centres on our website here.
What is the age limit for volunteers?
None! You can volunteer with us regardless of your age - our oldest volunteer was over 80 years old, and the youngest was just a couple of months old. Very young volunteers (under 16 years of age) should receive their parents' or guardians' consent and fundraise in the company of a guardian or an older friend.
I am underage. Can I become a volunteer?
Sure you can! We ask your parents or guardians to sign your Volunteer's Statement. If you are fundraising on the day of the Grand Finale and are under 16 years of age, we also ask an adult to accompany you on the day of the fundraiser.
Where do volunteers collect funds on the day of the Grand Finale?
Volunteers collect money in the locality of their Collection Centres, and only outdoors, in the streets, market places, other open, public areas. Provided that the local Collection Centre has the permission from the management, the volunteers can also collect funds on shop premises, such as shopping centres. We ask you not to go door-to-door and bother people at their homes. Supporting our charity is voluntary!
Will I receive any sort of acknowledgement for my voluntary service?
Each Collection Centre receives a set of acknowledgements which also serve as a document stating how much each volunteer managed to collect. The Chief of a Collection Centre is obliged to pass them on to each volunteer. We are unable to issue additional acknowledgement documents to the volunteers, who have helped during the Grand Finale.
Equipment from the GOCC
What is your stance on 'do not treat me with the GOCC equipment' declaration?
There has been a lot of fuss about encouraging people who voice their disapproval of our Foundation to sign declarations stating that they do not wish to receive medical treatment using equipment purchased by our charity.
We would like to make it clear that the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation works to support Polish medicine and equip Polish hospitals, offering free, accessible medical care to all people in the country. Our supporter or not, everyone should have access to modern medical care!
How can a hospital apply for equipment?
A request for equipment, which should comply with the theme of the current Grand Finale or should function within the framework of one of the medical programmes run by the foundation, has to be sent to the GOCC office by mail. The official document should bear the signature of the director of the hospital.
The request should be appropriately motivated: it has to contain a description of the condition of the hospital and it should list the equipment that is already in use in the hospital. It needs to state the number of patients, who receive treatment and list all reasons why the hospital needs to receive the support.
The request should clearly state the hospital's legal entity form. We also need to receive documents which prove that the hospital is offering treatment free of charge, within the framework of publicly available medical care.
More information about how a hospital can apply for our support can be found here.
What conditions apply when the equipment is donated to hospitals?
Each piece of equipment is passed to the hospital as a donation. The foundation reserves the right to control the beneficiary (according to the provisions of the donation contract). What's more, according to Article 893 of the Code of Civil Proceedings, the beneficiary is obliged to comply with a series of demands. A complete list of demands, which apply in this case, can be found on our website here.
How much money raised for charity is actually spent on Pol'and'Rock Festival?
The costs of the Pol'and'Rock Festival and Grand Finale are not covered by the funds coming from the public fundraiser. We rely on deliberate donations and our sponsors to pay for the expenses of these massive (and expensive) events.
How much does it cost to hold the Grand Finale events locally? Is it true that Collection Centres spend more money than they raise?
The costs of holding local events are different for each Collection Centre, but the Collection Centres do not cover the costs of the Grand Finale from the money raised for charity. The Collection Centres rely on sponsors, barter deals and community support. The people responsible for holding the fundraiser are encouraged to watch the costs.
How do you spend the money raised during the Grand Finale fundraiser?
The money raised at the annual fundraiser goes towards the purchase of medical equipment for public hospitals in Poland and to finance medical and educational programmes. Each year we carefully consider which branch of medicine we are going to support, but we always focus our activities on children's medicine. The costs directly connected with the logistics of the fundraiser, which are incurred by the foundation, such as printing the heart stickers and posters, and the cost of transportation and telecommunication are covered with the money raised during the Grand Finale. You can find out more about our finances from the detailed reports we upload here.
Is it true that only 50% of the funds raised go towards the purchase of equipment?
We use 92% of the funds collected at the public fundraiser to purchase medical equipment and finance medical and educational programmes. The remaining 8% is used to cover our administrative costs. This data is taken from the report produced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
What were the ratings of the 30. Grand Finale telethon?
On 30th January, i.e. the most important date for us, we reached 60 mln viewers online. Our audience was much bigger though! Through the TV channels, we reached 25,5 mln people. The outreach of our radio materials was equal to 8,7 mln.
505 thousand people watched the 30th Grand Finale on channel TVN24, and 696 thousand viewers followed our lives on TVN.
Where can I watch the broadcast of the Grand Finale?
We used to broadcast our telethon on TVP - a public broadcaster, but for the past few years, the Grand Finale is broadcasted on TVN channels and online.
Why does the Foundation hold Pol'and'Rock Festival?
We see the free open-air festival as our way of saying thank-you to everyone who has been involved in our winter fundraiser, and that's why the organisation of the festival is listed as one of the foundation's statutory tasks. As per paragraph 9 of the GOCC Charter, the Foundation aims to accomplish its aims by involving your people in the charitable work. The foundation also aims to create a community of people involved in arts, sciences, and cultural fields.
Pol'and'Rock Festival seems to be the best way of reaching thousands of young people from different walks of life. During the festival, apart from showcasing amazing music and art, we aim to launch a variety of educational initiatives. Some of them are focused on informing about dangers of alcohol and drug addiction. The ideals driving the organisation of the festival are that of peace, friendship and love. The festival makes its stand against violence and racism. The festival-goers are encouraged to take up social activity and broaden their horizons. We are very proud to be able to host a plethora of different third sector organisations at the festival as well, introducing young people to different cultures and world-views.
I am not 18 yet. Can I still go to Pol'and'Rock Festival Poland?
Everyone is welcome at Pol'and'Rock Festival Poland, however, we encourage you to come with an adult guardian.
I want to play at Pol'and'Rock Festival Poland. What can do?
What band doesn't dream about playing in front of such a huge and appreciative crowd? If you are a young, up-and-coming band, your best chance of performing at Pol'and'Rock Festival Poland is to take part in the Emerging Bands Competition. More information is available here.
How can I help organise the Festival?
That's great! If you would like to play your part in organising the festival, we invite you to join the ranks of the Peace Patrol. Because of how complex the work at the festival is, our festival volunteers have to complete a three-day training course. The course includes team-building activities, first aid training, and the participants learn everything they need to know about mass events. Peace Patrollers help us during different initiatives we take up. You can find more about their work in Polish here.
So, how did it all start?
The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation has been officially registered in Warsaw in March 1993. The founders are Jerzy Owsiak, Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak, Bohdan Maruszewski, Piotr Burczyński, Paweł Januszewicz, Walter Chełstowski, and Beata Bethke. The first Grand Finale fundraiser was held in January 1993 - at first, it was meant to be a one-off happening to raise money for the cardiac surgery ward at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Warsaw. The spectacular success of the first effort, which enabled the foundation to divide the money between all cardiology units treating children in Poland, inspired the establishment of the GOCC Foundation.
Who established the Foundation?
The foundation has been established by Jerzy Owsiak, Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak, Bohdan Maruszewski, Piotr Burczyński, Paweł Januszewicz, Walter Chełstowski, and Beata Bethke.
When was the name the "Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity" first used?
Jurek Owsiak used this complicated name for the first time in 1991. What a mouthful! Try saying it 3 times in a row!
About Jurek, the chairman of the Foundation
What does Jurek Owsiak do? What is his profession?
Jurek, who is the Chairman of the Board of the GOCC foundation, is a volunteer himself. Jurek is also one of the founders of the charity. He is the mastermind and the creative director of the largest open-air music festival in Europe - Pol'and'Rock Festival (previously known as Woodstock Festival Poland).
Jurek is the founder of the Society of Chinese Towels Appreciation. Membership of this elite club is open to everyone, who is aware of this society...so now you are one of us! Feel free to create your own membership badge now.
Jurek Owsiak is also the Chairman of the Board of Złoty Melon. Złoty Melon is a subsidiary of the GOCC foundation, which has a 100% stock share in this company.
In his private time (and let us tell you, there's precious little of that!), Jurek pursues the arts - he is an avid art collector and he tries his hand at drumming.
The Chairman of the GOCC foundation is a traveller and book lover. He is a motivational speaker, sharing his success story and encouraging people to try their best at any initiative they might undertake.
What did Jurek do before he established the Foundation?
Jurek has graduated from high school in Warsaw, and despite his honest attempts, he failed to get into a university. He has applied to art schools and tried to study philosophy, rehabilitation, and social studies. Alas, to no avail. Like many other young people in Poland in the 70s, he has been called up to serve in the army. Rather than serve the prescribed 1.5 years, Owsiak decided to simulate a mental disease with such a gusto that he had been released after mere 3 months in the army. It seems that this experience had opened up a new path for Jurek - he took up psychotherapy and spend his time working with young offenders and difficult youngsters in a rehabilitation centre in Warsaw.
Jurek got involved in amateur theatre and at the same time, he pursued his artistic inclinations by studying stain glass design and, eventually, establishing his own stained glass design workshop. He gave up this workshop having received the invitation to broadcast an original show called 'Róbta co chceta, czyli rock'n'rollowa jazda bez trzymanki' (Dae what yer want, rock'n'roll rollercoaster) for TVP. Owsiak's show, which has been awarded for its innovative format, aimed to present new rock'n'roll music to a wide audience of young people. The show was all about controlled mayhem (chickens in a TV studio anyone?) and it had been co-hosted by Agata Młynarska. A year after the first broadcast, Jurek was invited to promote a funny little initiative with a funny long name 'The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity'. The rest is history...
How much does Jurek earn at the Foundation?
Jurek is, funnily enough, a volunteer, so he does not receive any sort of wages from the Foundation. The only things the Foundation provides him with are his mobile phone and a company car. Jurek is a Chairman of the board of Złoty Melon Company, which is owned by the GOCC in entirety.
What is Złoty Melon (The Golden Melon company)?
Złoty Melon is a company owned by the GOCC. The company is responsible for all commercial endeavours taken up by the Foundation, such as releasing concert DVDs and albums, dealing with artists’ fees and so on. Jurek Owsiak is the Chairman of the Board of this company.