Today events will take place to celebrate the work of philanthropy and foundations. European Day of Foundations and Donors aims at highlighting the invaluable and diverse work of public benefit foundations in Europe, promoting the idea of donating, and telling the story of philanthropy. Members of the Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe and the European Foundation Centre will host a variety of activities to mark the Day. For example in Helsinki the European Day of Foundations and Donors takes to the big screen, with an open mini short film festival showing documentaries on identity, supported by foundations; the Bulgarian Donors Forum will present its annual analysis of philanthropy with Presidential endorsement; in Moscow there will be a photo exhibition highlighting the impact of philanthropy; while in Madrid the Day is being celebrated with a major Once lottery draw.

‘We are delighted to join in celebrating the European Day of Foundations and Donors, which recognises the vital role philanthropy and foundations play in civil society’ said Jane Morrice, Vice President of the European Economic and Social Committee. ‘Their work is rich in its diversity and positively impacts on the lives of all citizens. Foundations provide opportunities for public engagement and participation and they tackle some of the most difficult and persistent problems in society. I wish all those who contribute to the success of foundations – donors, board members, staff, and volunteers – every success today and for their future work.’

Foundations have for centuries provided an effective mechanism for turning private wealth into public benefit. Today philanthropy and foundations form an essential component of the fabric of civil society. A comprehensive mapping of the European Foundation Sector, and a report highlighting the richness of the diversity of foundation type, scale and scope are the available on the DAFNE website The report, based on a 2015 survey of 23 national foundation and donor associations, reveals that there are over 141,000 public benefit foundations across Europe of varying types with a huge variety of interests, with a collective estimated annual expenditure in excess of €55bn.