Our story

Our story
Building the venture philanthropy sector from scratch

The history of EVPA is a story of growth. Discover how EVPA built up the venture philanthropy sector from scratch and transformed itself from a modest network to the European hotspot for venture philanthropy.

The early days

At a meeting in London in January 2004, our five founding trustees (Luciano Balbo, Stephen Dawson, Michiel de Haan, Doug Miller and Serge Raicher) formally launched the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) to promote venture philanthropy (VP) and social investment (SI) in Europe. 

The launch was the culmination of a series of meetings and discussions between the five founders who shared a background in private equity, an interest in investing in charities and the conviction that a new approach was needed to maximise charities’ contribution to the resolution of social problems.

At the start, EVPA was a network without members, staff or premises – a support mechanism with virtually nothing to support
‘Growing the industry’

The model of venture philanthropy was briefly ‘en vogue’ in the United States but was virtually unknown in Europe. So at the start, EVPA was a network without members, staff or premises – a support mechanism with virtually nothing to support. 

EVPA had to ‘grow the industry’ to promote the idea of venture philanthropy in Europe and to support the few emerging VP funds that did exist. While doing so, it depended on the ‘sweat equity’ of the trustees and on the bought-in expertise of consultants and advisers.

First activities

Between 2004 and 2008, EVPA grew under the executive leadership of Rob John, who brought his contribution to set up and develop EVPA to the point an office in Brussels was opened and the first staff members were hired. In June 2005, our first annual conference took place, which drew in 135 people from 14 countries.

In 2009, EVPA transformed itself into a Brussels-based international non-profit association (aisbl) under Belgian law with permanent staff and consultants.

EVPA today

Today, EVPA is a true learning organisation that fosters a European movement and promotes new ways to tackle social and collective needs. Every day, we aim to (co-)create a well-functioning eco-system for societal impact. By increasing funding and expertise coming into the venture philanthropy and social Investment space, we aim to boost the effectiveness of venture philanthropists and social Investors.

Today we are fostering a European movement and promoting innovative ways to tackle social and collective needs

All EVPA members work together to promote and shape the future of venture philanthropy and social investment in Europe and beyond.

Over 270 members from over 30 countries connect through our events and activities, to share best practices and a common vision.

At EVPA we share, collaborate and make projects grow.

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