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 Definition of foundations

“Foundations are autonomous, non-profit organisations with their own resources that work locally, regionally and internationally to improve the lives of citizens, by running and funding activities in a myriad of areas.”
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 Data on European Foundations

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DAFNE (Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe) and EFC (European Foundation Centre) have worked together to compile data on foundations in Europe.​ 
Scroll over a country to find out more about its foundation sector, total assets and expenditure. For more detailed information click on the country which will provide data on the following: 

Definition of 'foundation'

Throughout Europe the meaning of the word ‘foundation’ can vary. This section provides a simple definition for what is considered a foundation in the selected country. For a more complete understanding, please see the legal and fiscal profiles.

Legal framework

The EFC legal and fiscal country profiles provide detailed information on the legal environment of foundations in each country. These include the purposes foundations are allowed to pursue, the requirements for establishing a foundation, governance and transparency regulation, tax treatment, tax incentives for individual and corporate donors, recent legal developments affecting foundations and the impact of the anti-terrorist debate. 

Number of foundations

The total number of foundations covers foundations which are based in and, where appropriate, registered in the country. Foreign foundations which are active in the country but operate from abroad are not included. It is always indicated what the number refers to and as much as possible only ‘public-benefit foundations’ are included.

Foundations' pool of assets

The pool of assets refers to the total assets owned by foundations in the country (book value). In most cases, exact figures are difficult to obtain, so an estimate is provided. Whenever possible this amount refers specifically to ‘public-benefit foundations’. Estimates refer to a specific number of foundations and a time period, which are always indicated.

Foundations' total expenditure

Total expenditure is the amount spent by foundations in projects or programmes for the public-benefit. This includes awards, grants, self-operated programmes, programme-related investments, research expenditure, and other types of expenditure (administrative costs, investment cost etc.). Whenever possible this amount refers specifically to ‘public-benefit foundations’. Estimates refer to a specific number of foundations and a time period, which are always indicated.

Employment and volunteering

Foundations act for the public good not only via their projects or programmes, but also through the employment and community involvement they generate. This section provides an estimate of the number of people employed or who volunteer within public-benefit foundations in the country. In some cases foundations list pro-bono and Board members’ contributions as voluntary work. 

Associations of foundations

A list of the associations of foundations in the country, either at national, regional or local level. Groups of public-benefit foundations active in a specific thematic areas are also represented. 

Further reading

List of publications that provide more in depth information such as background or specific regional or thematic information. 

More on the sector

List of organisations that have expertise in the foundation sector and that can provide further specific information on the sector.