Why does DAFNE engage in data and research?
Philanthropy is on the rise across Europe. However, little is known about the real volume of philanthropy and its societal impact in Europe. In many countries, there are no specialised research institutions that collect data on a regular basis and report to the public or they have limited resources and capacity to engage in such research. Thus, there is lack of clarity even about the most commonly discussed figures such as the number of foundations, their endowment size and the volume of expenditures. Figures that we urgently need to underpin impact measurement of philanthropic foundations, public recognition of the sector or advocacy efforts, to name but a few examples.
Complexity of the philanthropic sector in Europe
Lack of comparative studies is related to the complexity and diversity of the sector. Not only do foundations differ in size, legal entity, endowment, governance and charitable purpose, they also operate in complex political, economic, legal and social frameworks that largely differ from country to country. While 95% of foundations in Germany pursue charitable, common-benefit goals and are exempted from tax payments, the majority of foundations in neighbouring Austria are family foundations established for private wealth management. In some countries, philanthropy has long history and tradition and enjoys public recognition, while in others foundations are treated with criticism and suspicion.
How to foster cross-national cooperation?
In order to overcome this gap and to advance research on European philanthropy, it is important to foster cross-national cooperation and agree upon definitions, research questions and methodologies for data collection and analysis. This would allow us to provide statistical information on the sector, to measure impact of philanthropic institutions and provide information on how the sector is changing over time and what the new developments across Europe are.
An aligned research strategy would provide a basis for in-depth analyses and comparative studies. Equally important is to strengthen collaboration between academic institutions, think tanks, philanthropy support organisations, ministries and consultancies in order to create research outcomes that are relevant to practitioners and the wider public. This would contribute to the accountability and transparency of European philanthropy. DAFNE is well placed to facilitate cross-border cooperation with both research institutions and philanthropy support organisations and to present data as credible intelligence and a robust evidence base for stakeholders and the wider public. Please visit the country profiles for further information on the foundation sector in Europe collected by DAFNE.
The European special edition of the 2018 Global Philanthropy Environment Index provides information about the philanthropic landscape of 30 European countries, measuring regulatory, political and socio-cultural environments through a standard instrument completed by country-based experts. The data offers accurate and timely information to policy makers, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders, the business community, and the public to increase understanding of the diversity and uniqueness of European philanthropy, by examining the incentives and barriers facing individuals and organizations involved in philanthropy.