European & International News

European organisations’ untapped funding potential

European foundations are willing to support philanthropic causes but the intentions are not always reflected in funding and real action.

[Brussels, 06 June 2011] A study of 145 organisations across 19 countries has recently pointed out that philanthropy is not uncommon to European foundations. A number of these foundations are making grants or supporting different programs intended to benefit women and girls in a variety of ways, ranging from financial independence of single mothers in Belgium, to preventing female genital mutilation in rural Kenya. In an effort to understand the scope, distribution and diversity of European-based funding, the European Foundation Funding for Women and Girls and Mama Cash, the oldest international women’s fund, engaged themselves in a comprehensive study. The report of the study is called "Untapped Potential: European Foundation Funding for Women and Girls (2011)" and was issued earlier this year.

One of the major findings of this research is that European foundations are willing to support philanthropic causes but the intentions are not always reflected in the allocation of their funds. For example, the research shows that 90 per cent of the surveyed organisations express interest and enthusiasm to support at least one issue related to women and girls. Such is the case with the high levels of attention and interest in funding work addressing violence against women (74%), poverty among women and/or girls (73%), and women and/or girls’ access to education (71%). These areas of interest are rarely addressed and the number of organisations actually involved is substantially lower than expected. This gap between interest and investment is a good potential indicator, but at the same time is a worrying sign that there is still much work to be done in order to fully engage organisations.

Moreover, from the nearly 37 per cent of European foundations engaged in supporting women and girls, the majority of these foundations (73 per cent) are active in the area of education, health (50 per cent), arts and culture (49 per cent). These areas dominate the funding programs, hereby overshadowing the needs of other vulnerable groups. Such is the case for the lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations, which are beneficiaries of only 9 per cent of the foundation activities followed by people with HIV/AIDS (12 per cent).

By mapping the gaps between interest and investment, this study makes a very important step to illustrate where the challenges with regards to social justice and rights agendas are situated. The conclusions and recommendations are certainly interesting for all European organisations that are engaged in philanthropic activities.

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