Seeking to make the case for a Single Market for Philanthropy and social investment, three key philanthropic infrastructure organisations – DAFNE, EFC and EVPA – held a joint, one-day “Philanthropy Scrum” on 28 May 2018 in Brussels. The event brought together 150 policymakers, foundations’ representatives and key stakeholders to explore “Co-creating a Single Market for Philanthropy”. EFC and DAFNE have been advocating for a single market for philanthropy for some time and a follow-up conversation with MEPs will take place on 9th October in Brussels. The report of the 28 May conference is now available.

The event included panel discussions and World Café tables where in small groups participants discussed concrete measures to:

  1. Recognise philanthropy
  2. Reduce barriers to cross-border philanthropy
  3. Enable and protect philanthropy
  4. Co-grant and co-invest for public good and civil society
  5. Discuss the most recent trends in terms of venture philanthropy and social investment

During the conference, representatives of the philanthropy sector, the EU and the OECD emphasised the importance of recognising philanthropy as much more than a mere source of funding. Philanthropy is about innovation, knowledge, expertise, and shared values, and it brings all of these assets to the work it does, both individually and in partnership.

Commission announces enhanced cooperation

Throughout the day, European Commission representatives expressed their keen interest in collaborating with philanthropy. Kerstin Jorna, Deputy Director General DG ECFIN, European Commission, announced at the conference that within the framework of the new InvestEU programme[1] the Commission aims to strengthen the involvement of foundations and philanthropy in shaping Europe’s future, to mobilise private capital and social innovation and to secure investments. This announcement by the Commission is a landmark step. If adopted, the InvestEU programme will allow European foundations to use their assets on a secure basis for joint European projects and goals. Philanthropy representatives at the event welcomed the possibility of the role of foundations being recognised and strengthened as we move forward to working together to tackle the very real social challenges facing Europe at this time.

Better recognition to ease cross-border philanthropy

Representatives of the sector were in agreement that for philanthropy to be able to unleash its full potential, a better recognition in the EU Treaties and an enabling environment is needed, particularly in current times, as security concerns and populist movements are challenging the sector’s ability to operate. While companies can operate freely across borders within the single market, this is not yet the case for philanthropy. Sector representatives took the opportunity of the SCRUM event to call on policymakers to help co-create a single market for philanthropy that removes barriers for foundations and philanthropy in their efforts to promote democracy and a vibrant civil society, and to protect the overall values of the EU.   

A key conclusion of the event was the need to ensure that existing European law governing cross-border philanthropy, such as the free flow of capital and the non-discrimination principle, which have been reaffirmed by decisions of the European Court of Justice, are fully and fairly implemented to overcome barriers to cross-border philanthropy and to protect the operating space for the sector. Discrimination by Member States of foreign-based comparable public-benefit organisations, as well as foreign funding restrictions like those recently implemented in Hungary, were identified as developments of particular concern. National laws should be in line with the European fundamental freedoms.

Philanthropic organisations take the next step in cooperation

By working together with common competencies and resources DAFNE, EFC and EVPA are striving to enhance the environment for European philanthropy and social investment to flourish. This event marked an important development in these organisations’ joint work with policymakers and paves the way for institutional philanthropy to have better conditions to be more impactful.

For more information, please contact Hanna Surmatz, EFC hsurmatz@efc.be

Download the report

[1] https://europa.eu/investeu/home_en

The Philanthropy Scrum “Co-creating a Single Market for Philanthropy” is part of EFC’s commitment to improving peer-learning and collaboration among its members. For more information on the EFC’s seven key priorities, please download the EFC Strategic Framework 2016-2022