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European Commission > Investing in European Research > Philanthropy for research

Philanthropy for research

In most European countries, with the exception of the UK, philanthropy does not focus on research. However, successful experiences show that philanthropy could help fund research, particularly in areas with important benefits for society such as health-related research.

The Commission is exploring possible initiatives to develop the role of philanthropic organisations (charities, foundations and trusts) as means to raise additional funds for research and innovation.

These issues are explored in the report "Giving for Research for Europe" published in January 2006 on the role of Foundations in the research field. See our press release and the full report English [Pdf file - 382 kb].

This report is the outcome of the work of an expert group set up by the Commission. It provides an overview of recent initiatives, current challenges and existing trends of Europe’s philanthropic organisations and their role in boosting public and private investment in R&D.

It also defines possible measures and actions at national and European level to promote the role of philanthropy in funding research activities.

In addition to providing input to the Commission’s policy-making, the report is intended to raise awareness and engender debate among stakeholders and national administrations.

The report’s findings have been discussed at a major conference which was held in Brussels on 27-28 March 2006 (Programme English [Pdf file -189 kb] and Speakers presentations | Press release Source: Euractiv - 28/032006).

The conference brought together over 200 participants from foundations, research bodies, universities, public authorities and industry who discussed strategies and initiatives to strengthen the potential of philanthropy as a source of funding for research in Europe. See the conference report. English [Pdf file - 425 kb]

Stemming from the recommendations of the expert group, the need for a "European Forum on Philanthropy and Research Funding" was strongly endorsed by the stakeholders as a platform to promote mutual learning, review best practices and improve synergies and collaboration. It would help identify challenges and priorities for a number of important issues regarding the role of philanthropy in funding research.

This forum was launched under the leadership of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) with support from the European Commission. The official forum launch conference took place in Brussels on December 4th 2007. For more information about the forum, please see the EFC website:

If your organization is interested in joining the forum, please fill in and return by mail
( or fax (+32 2 512 32 65) the Expression of Interest Form (Expression of Interest to Join the "European Forum on Philanthropy and Research funding" Form English [Pdf file - 25 kb])

We have so far received over 100 expressions of interest in the forum. Sending us your filled-in form will enable us to keep you informed of the forum launch conference and any new developments in this regard.

The European Commission is committed to support and facilitate the work of the stakeholders, notably by furthering knowledge on the role of philanthropy in the financing of research through launching studies and setting up appropriate groups of experts.

One of its first actions in this regard was the launch by the Directorate General for Research, on 12 January 2007 of an independent expert group, to identify and review good practices in the fund-raising of universities from philanthropic sources, as a basis for defining voluntary guidelines in this area. For more information, please see the full expert group report English [Pdf file - 7.18 Mb].

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