1st October press release: Billions for good

Press Release – 1st of October European Day of Foundations and Donors

Billions for good

The world is divided in two for the approximately 144,000 foundations in Europe. While some are fighting for freedom and survival, others benefit from increased freedoms and opportunities.

Every year on 1stof October, European foundations, donors and philanthropists celebrate the European Day of Foundations and Donors. Events, online campaigns and public discussions all over the continent help to build a better understanding of the multi-billion Euro sector working for the public good.

With around € 60 billion in spending a year, foundations substantially contribute to cohesion, democracy, openness to innovation and sustainability throughout Europe and beyond. Foundations support a wide range of charitable projects in the fields of environmental protection, social care, science, health, culture, arts, international cooperation, youth, democracy – to name just a few. To illustrate this vital engagement rooted in civil society, this year’s motto is #ThankYouPhilanthropy.

Freedom in danger

But billions for good are in danger. In countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary, the situation for these important players in civil society is getting worse. Foundations are being closed, projects stopped, donations prevented and some foundations even forced to leave the country. The recent move of the Open Society Foundations from Budapest to Berlin is an expression of this dramatic development. “The situation in Hungary is a wake-up call for Europe. Politics and civil society must intervene and defend freedom even more vigorously,” demands Felix Oldenburg, Chairman of DAFNE, Europe’s leading network of foundations’ associations.

More opportunities

In other parts of Europe, foundations can look forward to more opportunities, political interest in their work and opportunities for cooperation. With the announced program InvestEU, for example, the European Commission wants to intensify cooperation with foundations and offer part of the estimated 511 billion foundation assets in Europe an opportunity to participate in future EU projects and future oriented investment opportunities. Additionally, there is growing interest in the perspective of civil society among politicians and political stakeholders on the European level.

A single market for philanthropy is needed

The European philanthropy sector contributes billions of Euros annually to charitable causes. However, while businesses can operate across all EU Member States in a single market, philanthropic institutions face significant barriers once they go beyond national borders. The lack of cohesion resulting from the fact that there is no real single market for philanthropy in Europe is a major stumbling block, which leads to an estimated annual loss for civil society of €100 million (2018 DAFNE/EFC study “Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy”).”We need a level playing field for donors and foundations in Europe. More legal binding, clarity and simplification for cross-border donations”, explains Max von Abendroth, Executive Director of DAFNE.


Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE)

DAFNE is Europe’s largest network of donors and foundations associations. With 26 member associations with a collective membership of more than 10,000 foundations and grant-makers, DAFNE is aleading voice of European foundations. It underpins individual activities of its members by encouraging dialogue and collaboration between the national associations. DAFNE is currently chaired by Felix Oldenburg, General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations.

Press Contact: 

Max von Abendroth
DAFNE Executive Director