Philanthropy: knowing how to innovate and act over the long term


Founded to develop and promote a particularly French form of philanthropy, nearly 900 charities currently fall under the umbrella of Fondation de France, operating in all fields of public interest. Thanks to the generosity of donors and testators, it conceives and also implements intervention programmes to tackle all forms of vulnerability, to support medical research, ecological transition and provide emergency support to victims of natural disasters. In total, some 10,000 projects are funded each year!

To ensure we make best use of the generous donations we receive, our action is guided by 5 key principles.

1 – Identifying the "right battles"


Which are the causes where we can make the greatest impact? This is a question for all donors and founders. Our conviction: philanthropy must be a pioneer of solutions. How can we tackle emerging problems and social divisions? By listening to civil society. The donors and founders identify priorities and our specialist expert committees permanently monitor activities, with the charities in direct contact on the ground also acting as nurseries of innovation and experimentation. It is by harnessing all these signals, which are subsequently validated through contextual and impact studies, that philanthropy is able to remain the vital "one step ahead" that lies at the core of its raison d’être.

2 – Acting at the right pace

Acting quickly and over the long term: the philanthropic approach must know how to perform at any speed. At Fondation de France, we intervene in emergency situations, notably by supporting victims of natural disasters. But we also have a long-term vision to create game-changing solutions, such as in healthcare and education. It is this flexibility that creates the strength of Fondation de France and of the foundations operating under its aegis.

3 – Acting at the grass roots level

In order to be effective, philanthropy must be firmly rooted at the local level: this conviction guides the activities of numerous founders, sponsors and donors wishing to act in the here and now – and as close as possible to the regions they know and love. It is also what lies behind the decentralised structure of Fondation de France, with its six regional foundations and commitment to local communities in French overseas territories and internationally. Proximity, intimate knowledge of a region and of its particular requirements – the ability to work closely with local operators is a prerequisite for effective action over the long term.


4 – Cooperation between different fields of expertise

The freedom of action typical of philanthropy promotes collaboration: between disciplines, experts and "beneficiaries", between operators and institutions used to working in silo. This applies, for example, to our research programmes which promote ground-breaking cooperation between hard science and the humanities or social sciences, between researchers and inhabitants. It also applies to numerous projects tackling deprivation, where partnerships are established between professionals in healthcare, housing, employment, sport, culture… In a world marked by division, the need for cooperation has never been more pressing.

5 – Acting as one

"Alone we go quickly, together we go further." Faced with the immense challenges of the 20th century, collective intelligence is more vital than ever. Fondation de France therefore unites and coordinates a community composed of 220 employees, 560 volunteers, 888 charities and thousands of project leaders. Together, they represent an incomparable wealth of experience and innovation established over the course of the past 50 years! Our Philanthropy Observatory monitors and analyses movements and trends. Discussion forums, themed workshops and collective projects transform all the energy and initiatives into effective action over the long term.