March 30, 2015

Increasing Foundations’ reach through collaborative philanthropy

All over Europe, our members hold events fostering and creating synergies within their VP/SI markets. While local, such events often contain learnings that could be relevant to other members. This month, EVPA member Fondation de Luxembourg highlights the importance of ‘localising’ projects when working in developing countries.


Foundations & collaborations

The past decade the Luxembourg sector has seen more and more collaborations between foundations. These collaborations are about finding synergies, sharing knowledge and best practices in order to maximise the social impact of the engagement. One of the key challenges for effective collaboration is to find adequate partners that share common values and goals.

In order to facilitate such collaborations, Fondation de Luxembourg organises regular ‘themed’ round tables with the founders of the foundations under its aegis. Last week the Fondation de Luxembourg organised such a roundtable with the founders of foundations active in the area of social entrepreneurship and philanthropic support in developing countries.

15 Foundation representatives from all over Europe (UK, France, Italy, Luxembourg) came together in Luxembourg for a half-day to share experiences and explore different approaches to philanthropy. The intention was to encourage a more entrepreneurial and collaborative approach to development in emerging countries.

For this purpose, the meeting started with a showcase of an extract of the film “Who Cares” explaining the concept of social entrepreneurship. After that Hugo Mahieu from the Mangrove Foundation talked about how they achieve positive change in the area of environmental development and female empowerment in emerging countries through promoting entrepreneurship. These words were followed by a very interactive exchange among the participants on themes such as how philanthropy can contribute to innovation and the importance of a gradual transition to social entrepreneurship as a way of reducing the dependence on aid.


One of the conclusions of the discussion among the philanthropists was, that in working actively in emerging countries, it was critical to ensure the support of the local authorities as well as to work through a local partner association which has local knowledge. Another conclusion was the importance of preparing a strategy for the exit of the supported party, already at the start of the engagement, in order to avoid long term dependency and stagnation of the project. Finally regarding the choice of the type of local partners, it was agreed that smaller foundations may have a higher impact by collaborating with smaller NGOs.

This was particularly true if the partner NGO had obtained the recognition of the Luxembourgish state under its co-financing programme (more information about this initiative, here and here), which sees the state multiply each euro spent on a project by a four euro contribution.  It was however considered that it made sense for large foundations to work through big NGOs with a solid experience and credibility, because of the scope of the projects, the large amount of funding involved and since sizeable projects tend to get a lot of publicity. All of these elements make it important to have a local partner that can deliver on those aspects.

The event, which was held at the very new Luxembourg club, House 17 in the Luxembourg city was followed by a walking lunch during which the discussions between the founders continued in a less formal way.

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