Fondation de France was created more than 50 years ago to develop philanthropy in France. Inspiring and encouraging people to engage for the common good, making them realize everyone can take action – that is its core mission. By supporting thousands of charitable initiatives, Fondation de France and its donor-advised funds represent a melting pot of social and environmental innovations, some of which have since inspired public policies.
Encouraging and promoting the willingness to act
Year in, year out, and despite various crises, the generosity of French people has remained steadfast. To encourage and transform this desire for engagement into practical and effective projects, Fondation de France is instrumental in facilitating a culture of philanthropy. It does so by promoting exemplary initiatives likely to generate others, encouraging the sharing and dissemination of good practices and providing a perspective on the legitimacy of philanthropy and its unique nature, which complements the work of government agencies. For example, Fondation de France supported the first survey of the impact of generosity, led by France générosités, which analyzed the systemic benefits (direct benefits and financial and social costs avoided) of nine philanthropic projects presented at a conference in November 2021.
Advancing the corpus of knowledge on philanthropy
In order to professionalize the sector, Fondation de France also contributes to advancing and sharing knowledge. It created the Philanthropy Observatory 25 years ago, to produce reliable data on the foundation sector, study its evolution and contribute to its profile and recognition. In 2021, the Philanthropy Observatory published three major surveys: “Les fondations et fonds de dotation en France” (Foundations and endowment funds in France), “Le Panorama national des générosités” (A review of generosity) and “Rapport sur les solitudes en France” (Alone in France). It also initiated the publication of other important works with academic and institutional partners, including: Enquête sur le changement systémique (Survey of systemic change), produced by NGO Ashoka (a network of social entrepreneurs), which surveyed around a hundred foundations and endowment funds. “This new survey assessed the philanthropy players’ level of knowledge and practices on the concept of systemic change. It also assessed the need for training and information sharing,” explains Maja Spanu, Head of the Philanthropy and International Affairs Mission. “In 2022, a qualitative analysis, led by the Essec Chair of Philanthropy, will be added to this stock take.” These publications represent the first building block of Projet Racine, a coalition of players (Ashoka, Entreprendre&+, Fondation de France, ESSEC, Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, Fondation Entreprendre and Ticket for Change) coming together to promote systemic change in the philanthropy sector. The objective is to see changes in practices in the philanthropy sector and encourage stakeholders to adopt this model, for greater impact.
A coalition for action
Fondation de France is heavily engaged in a number of networks, both national (French Foundation Center, France générosités, etc.), and international (EFC – European Foundation Centre, NEF – Network of European Foundations, etc.). In 2021, Fondation de France supported the French Coalition of Foundations for Climate to mobilize the sector on climate change issues. With its partnership with WINGS (World Initiatives for Grantmaker Support), Fondation de France supports nonprofit TrustAfrica, which raises private funds for projects serving the public interest in Africa.
In addition to sharing experience and pooling projects, Fondation de France also takes collaborative action, by contributing to discussions with policy makers, to develop a legal, fiscal and political framework that promotes the development of philanthropy.