The idea to create an institution supporting inhabitants of Polish villages that would be independent of communist authorities emarged already in 1981, during the debates of the German and Polish episcopates. However, it was implemented only six years later, in 1987, when the Foundation for Support of Water Supply to Villages was established. In required long negotiations of the Catholic Church representatives with the communist regime. The aim of these negotiation was restoring the legal possibility to establish a foundation in Poland (under the decree of 1952 all foundations were dissolved and the state took over their property). The Foundation for Support of Water Supply to Villages granted the subventions and preferential loans for water supply and sawer systems construction in the rural area as well as organised for inhabitants of villages training courses on small business, agro-tourism, natural environment protection, basic local democracy and civil awareness development.
The Agricultural Foundation started its operation in 1991. Its fundamental aim was to facilitate the change of employment structure in the rural area. This change was to be achieved by supporting initiatives of rural and small-town inhabitants aimed at creation of jobs outside agriculture sector. The Foundation implemented its tasks by granting preferential loans to those who wanted to create the economically rational businesses, agro-tourist farms owners and unemployed who were willing to start their own businesses and get independent of the state social support benefits. As the only non-governmental organisation in Poland, the Foundation supported development of small water retention systems granting preferential loans for reconstruction of small hydropower stations at the lowland areas.
The mission of the Rural Development Foundation, which came into being thanks to the merger of the two above-mentioned foundations, is to support economic, social and cultural initiatives of the inhabitants of villages and small towns as well as initatives aimed at improvement of rural area infrastructure.
Additionally, the Foundation’s statutory tasks include supporting social, cultural and educational development of village inhabitants, improving their living and working conditions, protection of natural environment, supporting development of non-conventional energy sources as well as establishing social welfare institutions in the rural areas.