Danish foundations during the corona crisis

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Christian Edlvold Berg, Senior Analyst at the Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations, introduces their recently published report, surveying the public perception of foundations during the corona crisis, and the Danish foundations about their expectations for providing grants in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

In this blog Christian Edlvold Berg, Senior Analyst at the Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations, introduces the recently published report Analysis: Danish Foundations during corona

Does the corona crisis threaten the 2.2 billion euros in annual grants from Danish foundations? For civil society organizations especially, but also for universities and cultural institutions, the corona crisis has sparked uncertainty. How does the crisis affect the ability of foundations to support their activities? The ability of foundations to grant money is closely linked to a positive return on their financial investments. And when a crisis hits, returns can easily be affected.

For Danish foundations, the corona crisis has occasioned emergency grants for initiatives to be launched immediately and for more long-term initiatives. Many initiatives focused on assisting projects and organizations that were hit hardest by the crisis. The crisis has shed light on the close collaboration among foundations, civil society, and the public sector in Denmark.

We wondered whether the massive support for corona-related initiatives influenced the public perception of foundations; and we wondered what they considered to be the most important role for foundations during a crisis such as the corona crisis.

It is against this background that we at the Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations produced this analysis. Fortunately, we were able to conclude from our analysis that our worst fears were not confirmed – on the contrary, most foundations stated that they expected to grant the same amount as budgeted for 2020 or more.

What we did

To investigate these concerns, we did two things: 1) We asked the Danes about their perception of foundations, and 2) we asked the Danish foundations about their expectations for providing grants in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and whether they have already provided and/or expect to provide grants directly related to the corona crisis.

KANTAR Gallup helped us ask a representative sample of the Danish population (2,066 respondents) about their assessment of foundation activities during the corona crisis.

The Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations sent out a questionnaire to 130 Danish foundations to which 84 foundations (65%) responded.

All the very large foundations with grants of at least 67.1 million euros each also responded as did most of the large foundations with grants of at least 13.4 million euros each. In total, 82% of the foundations with grants above 13.4 million euros answered, which equals grants totaling 1.5-1.6 billion euros.

The Danes find that foundations play an important role during the corona crisis

69% of the Danish population stated that the role of foundations during the corona crisis is important or very important.

When asked in what way they found the role of foundations to be important, 60% answered that it is because foundations support projects that are not supported by others. 49% answered that it is because foundations support particularly vulnerable groups, and 46% answered that it is because foundations support long-term efforts.

Figure 1: The popular assessment of the importance of foundation support during the corona crisis

Source: KANTAR Gallup 2020, n= 2.066

More than half of the foundations have provided grants to corona-related efforts

The study confirms that foundations were highly active in providing support during the corona crisis and that they expect to increase their total amount of grants.

49 of the 84 foundations have donated funds for corona-related efforts. Large foundations, each with annual grants of more than 13.4 million euros, have been especially active. Of this group, 19 of 23 foundations (83%) have donated to corona-related efforts.

Several foundations have plans for additional donations. This includes 14 of the 23 foundations (61%), each of which have annual grants of more than 13.4 million euros.


Figure 2: Number of foundations that have provided or planned to provide grants because of the corona crisis – grouped by annual grants in 2019

Source: The Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations 2020, n= 84

Expectations for grants in 2020, 2021, and 2022

Most of the foundations expect to provide the same amount or more than they budgeted in 2020. 68 of the 84 participating foundations (81%) expect to grant the same amount of money or more in 2020, compared to their budget for 2020. For 2021 and 2022, 74% of the participating foundations expect to grant the same or more.

Large foundations that have annual grants of more than 13.4 million euros expect to increase their grants – but, primarily, in 2020.

Relatively few foundations expect to reduce their grants in the period from 2020 to 2022. But those that do are found in all groups, including the large foundations.

Figure 3: Expectations for amount of grants for 2020-2022 measured against their budget for 2020 (number of foundations)

Source: The Knowledge Center for Danish Foundations 2020, n= 84