Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum

We developed the Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum to better understand and document the characteristics, practices, role and relevance of institutional philanthropy in society. Taking a functional rather than legalistic approach to understanding European philanthropy, the Spectrum encompasses the following key aspects of the sector:

  • Financial resources: Income and assets, both size and type
  • Use of assets: Financial tools, staffing, non-financial assets and tools, scope and approaches
  • Governance: Governance arrangements, time horizon and multiple forms
  • Practices and behaviours: Evaluation, learning, transparency, collaboration
  • Relevance: Areas of focus and methods of change for the public good

Get involved!

You’re a practitioner ‒ a foundation, a corporate funder, a grantmaker, an adviser, a researcher on philanthropy ‒ so get involved! We invite our members and others in the sector to help us develop and refine the Spectrum by giving us feedback on this framework tool.

More about the Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum (IPS)

Too often the philanthropic sector is viewed in 2D. Who is funding what project? How much money is spent? What types of philanthropy projects exist? This approach of only focusing on a few parameters has led to a narrow and distorted view of what is actually occurring in the philanthropic sector. Recognising the need to gain a more accurate view, the EFC has embarked on a new initiative to bring a third dimension to philanthropy.

The IPS serves as a framework to build systematic knowledge about the field of institutional philanthropy. It aims to help capture the diverse and evolving nature of the sector as well as allowing the user to visualise, explain and possibly foresee practices and actions based on relations between different elements identified in the spectrum. The Spectrum examines the five aspects − financial resources, use of assets, governance, practices/behaviours, and relevance − in detailed clusters to identify the unique features and practices of each institutional philanthropy actor. In short, the tool enables users to picture where they fit within the five variables and collectively across the spectrum.

Icon for: Notes



Public good:

focuses on the areas of expertise/competence of institutional philanthropy.



focuses on the origin and types of financial resources (endowment, self-generated and other income) and the size of these resources.


Use of assets:

focuses on how institutional philanthropy manages and makes use of its assets. This covers its financial assets, human resources, non-financial tangible and intangible assets; as well as the scope of the organisation (i.e. mandate, issue, population and geographical foci), and the approach(es) it takes (i.e. grant-making, operating, both grantmaking & operating, creating new entities, investing, investing & engagement /comanagement, using a mix of those).



focuses on the governance arrangements of institutional philanthropy including the appointment of the governing organ(s), their composition, their functioning, the relations between the various organs and parties); the time horizon of the organisation (does it have a set duration or does it exist in perpetuity?); and its form (e.g. foundation forms, company forms, NGOs forms or others).


Values & strategies:

focuses on the values and strategies of the organisation as reflected in its practices and its relations with its peers and its stakeholders.



focuses on the role of the organisation from its own viewpoint and perspective, i.e. its position and what it does in society; and its function, i.e. the purpose for which it is designed and exists.


We use cookies in order improve your browsing experience on, not to collect personal information. By continuing to use the site, you agree that that is OK. You can read more about our privacy policy here.