+31 (0)20 598 6805 / +31 (0)20 598 6804 cfs@vu.nl
The Center for Philanthropic Studies conducts research on all aspects of philanthropy, including charitable giving, foundation grants, blood donations and volunteering. We are part of the Department of Sociology at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. Members of the Center contribute to education on the Bachelor and Master level throughout the Faculty of Social Sciences. Furthermore, the Center offers post-academic programs for professionals in the Dutch philanthropic sector.


The Center for Philanthropic Studies produces high-quality research and education that contributes to the professionalization of philanthropy.


Philanthropy stands for contributions in the form of money, goods, time (expertise) and/or life (blood, organs), made available voluntarily by individuals and organizations (foundations, corporations, churches), primarily supporting the public good.



In search of more knowledge about the phenomenon “Philanthropy”, Theo Schuyt came into contact with the Giving USA studies during his study trips to the US in 1989 and 1993. Since 1955, the giving behavior of American households, funds and companies has been mapped macro-economically by researchers at the University of Indianapolis.

Schuyt found it striking that such an overview did not yet exist in the Netherlands, and thus the idea for the Giving in the Netherlands study was born. This resulted in 1997 in the first edition of the book Giving in the Netherlands, in which the giving behavior of households, companies, funds for the year 1995 was mapped macro-economically. A new issue of Geven in the Netherlands is published every other year: ten issues have since been published.

Since 2001, Theo Schuyt has been special professor of Philanthropy, Sponsoring and Volunteering at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. In 2006 this special chair was converted into a permanent chair in Philanthropic Studies.

The Center’s focus increasingly shifted to Europe. To stimulate international cooperation, the European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP) was established in 2007.

In addition to Theo Schuyt, the Center welcomed a second professor in 2013, when René Bekkers was appointed extraordinary professor of Social Aspects of Prosocial Behavior, supported by the Van der Gaag Foundation of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Bekkers has been involved with Geven in the Netherlands since 2001. He obtained his PhD in sociology at Utrecht University in 2004 and joined the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2008.

On January 1, 2014, Bekkers took over from Schuyt as director of the Center for Philanthropic Studies. Theo Schuyt remained a professor at VU. In 2015, Schuyt was appointed professor by special appointment in Philanthropy and Social Innovation at Maastricht University on behalf of the Elisabeth Strouven foundation.

René Bekkers received a permanent chair in Philanthropy at VU in March 2018. A year later, the Center added a third professor. On January 1, 2019, Pamala Wiepking was appointed professor of ‘Social significance of charity lotteries’.

In 2020 the Center for Philanthropic Studies is an active academic department with deep roots in the philanthropy sector. In addition to ongoing Giving in the Netherlands research, the Center works on a variety of research projects and offers education at the Bachelor, Master and Postgraduate level at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.



René Bekkers

Professor | Director Center for Philanthropic Studies | Research coordinator

r.bekkers@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 598 6493

Pamala Wiepking



Eva-Maria Merz



Arjen de Wit

Assistant Professor


Caroline Graf

PhD Candidate


Petra van Aken

PhD Candidate


Diederik van der Plas

PhD Candidate


Joseph Van Matre 

PhD Candidate


Theo Schuyt

Professor | President European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP)

t.schuyt@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 598 7681 

Barbara Gouwenberg

Researcher | Project Coordinator

b.m.gouwenberg@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 598 6795

Barry Hoolwerf

Researcher | Director European Research Network On Philanthropy (ERNOP)

l.k.hoolwerf@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 598 2738

Claire van Teunenbroek

Postdoctoral Researcher | Data Manager

p.s.c.van.teunenbroek@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 59 83912

Elly Mariani

PhD Candidate


Joris Schröder

PhD Candidate


Olena van Horick

PhD Candidate


Ting Li

Postdoctoral Researcher