Conference on “Philanthropy and Social Investments Fostering Research and Innovation” (PhiSI): Bridging the gap between the EC and foundations

New forms of financing and partnerships fostering research and innovation in Europe. How innovative forms of philanthropy can create a bridge between foundations, governments and the corporate sector.   How to finance investments is research and innovation in the future? Which forms of financing might stimulate investments and leverage the wealth that has been accumulated in Europe? Which new collaboration structures will lead to breakthroughs in fundamental research? These questions were addressed during the conference “Philanthropy and Social Investments Fostering Research and Innovation. New forms of financing and partnerships”, which was hosted by the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam (the Netherlands) on April 21-22. The conference is associated with the Netherlands EU Presidency 2016. The conference proved to be a fruitful starting point for exploring new collaboration structures between the European Commission, (larger) European foundations and social finance intermediaries. Key-no te speaker Director-General Research and Innovation Mr. Robert-Jan Smits from the European Commission stressed the independence of foundations, but also referred to their collaborative mission to foster research and innovation in Europe. The European Commission would very much like to facilitate in provide a collaboration platform, if there would be any need from the foundations.   The mission of foundations to invest in research and innovation became clear from the European Foundations supporting Research and Innovation (EUFORI) Study (www.euforistudy.eu), which was briefly presented by Professor Philanthropic Studies Theo Schuyt. This first time attempt to map foundations’ support for research and innovation in the EU estimates a lower bound annual budget of 5 bil lion Euros for research and innovation, but also refers to the 127 billlion in assets that might be invested in research and innovation if provided the right conditions and opportunities for collaboration. Professor Theo Schuyt from the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam made a comparison with the three-partite of the French revolution – liberté, egalité and fraternité – to note that markets (liberté), governments (egalité) and philanthropy (fraternité) form the very basis of our modern welfare states and that all actors in the triangle need each other. According to Schuyt “we will have to look for new ways of investing in research and innovation. Next to traditional grant-making, venture philanthropy, impact investing, and guarantees for research investments might be added to the mainstream investment toolbox of foundations”. That some foundations already make use of these forms of financial support, but probably much less than they could do, was made clear by Mr. Luc Tayart de Borms, Managing Director of the King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium). “Theoretically, foundations are considered to be independent risk-takers, providing investments and support in fields that are neglected by government or corporates. However, most foundations are reluctant to take this...

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European foundations give 5 bn to research and innovation

European foundations give 5 bn to research and innovation

Private foundations across Europe account for at least 5 billion Euros of spending to research and innovation. That is the result of the EUFORI Study, a large research project commissioned by the European Commission. Experts from 29 countries contributed to the project, which was coordinated by researchers from VU Amsterdam. 1,591 foundations in the field of Research & Development participated in the study, which was conducted in 27 EU countries, Switzerland and Norway. The synthesis report and 29 national reports are available at EUFORI’s...

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Only moderate health benefits of being a volunteer

Only moderate health benefits of being a volunteer

Volunteering has only small beneficial effects on the health, subjective well-being and social networks of volunteers. Whereas previous studies found volunteers to be healthier and happier as well as to have a stronger social network, the issue of causality is often not addressed adequately. It could very well be that healthier and happier people with stronger networks are selected into volunteering. In order to disentangle selection effects from causal effects, researchers of the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam examined six panel survey datasets from countries across Europe. Starting or stopping with voluntary work is associated with changes in subjective health, subjective well-being and the strength of one’s social network, but the effects are small. A large part of the variance between volunteers and non-volunteers can be attributed to selection effects. The publication “Welfare impacts of participation”, which is part of the EU-funded research project Impact of the Third Sector as Social Innovation (ITSSOIN), is available...

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Philanthropy Day – April 23rd 2015

Philanthropy Day – April 23rd 2015

On Philanthropy Day (April 23rd), the Centre for Philanthropic Studies at VU University Amsterdam will present its biennial overview of Giving in the Netherlands 2015. Theme of the presentations will be ‘Resilience of Philanthropy’. Since 1997, the Centre for Philanthropic Studies at VU University biennially publishes “Giving in the Netherlands”. Giving in the Netherlands is the only macro-economic overview of giving within a specific country in Europe and serves as a model for an envisioned Giving in Europe Study by ERNOP. Giving in the Netherlands comprises macro-economic estimates of giving by households, corporations, foundations, charity lotteries and volunteering. Recently, the philanthropy sector in the Netherlands may count on more attention from national media and the general public. The macro-economic overview as presented in Giving in the Netherlands is thus more relevant than ever. Questions to be answered will be, among others, what is the total size of the philanthropy sector in the Netherlands? What are the main sources of philanthropic revenues? Which goals receive which amounts? Which developments can be depicted from studying giving by households over time? What are the personality traits of the individuals that give? The philanthropy sector in the Netherlands is experiencing quite some turbulence and change. Citizens engage in popular initiatives, while the Dutch government is decentralizing. What are the effects of these developments for the philanthropy sector? Is there a change of focus in philanthropic goals? How resilient is philanthropy and the philanthropic behavior of households, corporations, and foundations? Special thematic sessions will shed light on these relevant and intriguing questions. Can’t wait to see the latest numbers on Giving in the Netherlands? A summary of the most important outcomes will be published at www.giving.nl on April 23. The summary of the book ‘Giving in the Netherlands 2015’ can be downloaded...

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