The Philanthropy Observatory

Foundations and endowment funds in France: a sector in full swing

In 2017, there were almost 2,500 foundations and over 1,650 endowment funds in operation in France. Over a third of the foundations were set up after 2010, while the endowment funds, a more recent phenomenon, were all created after 2009. For the most part, foundations are being launched by increasingly younger individuals. Their missions focus primarily on social action and children. These are the key findings of the Funds and Foundations study carried out by the Philanthropy Observatory.

In France, the philanthropy sector is booming. Its economic value is expanding fast, with 26.5 billion euros of assets and 10 billion euros of annual expenditure for the general interest. While operating foundations, particularly those managing social and medical institutions, account for the vast majority of the economic value, grant-making foundations are growing in volume. This emerging model of contemporary philanthropy accounts for 90% of foundations created since 2010.

French foundations spend on average 38% of their assets per year, compared with 33% in 2013. This dynamic expenditure can be explained by the fact that instalment-funded foundations account for 45% of all foundations and over half of foundations created since 2010. This shift is characteristic of contemporary philanthropy both in France and throughout Europe: philanthropists want to take action for the general interest during their own lifetime to meet contemporary needs, without tying up their capital in the long term.

Philanthropists are getting younger

Half of new foundations are set up by individuals while a third are created by companies. Between 2013 and 2017, the average age of the founder dropped from 64 to 61 years for public interest foundations and from 59 to 57 years for sheltered foundations. A third of the founders of this latter type of foundation were aged under 55.

Since 2013, the scope of foundations has predominantly been in social action and concerns primarily children and young people. Over half take action at a local level.


What is the Philanthropy Observatory ?

For over 20 years, the Philanthropy Observatory has been carrying out studies into the expression and evolution of philanthropy in France.