Conditions for successful endowment funds and foundations

5/2/2011 - Networks

Some 200 people attended the round table hosted during the CFF's general meeting (French Center for Endowment Funds and Foundations) that brought together different players from the world of French philanthropy, reflecting the diversity and vitality of this sector. The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations – a longstanding player in family philanthropy – demonstrated how family tradition and modern initiatives go hand in hand.

The results from the third review of endowments and foundations in France presented by the CFF and the Observatoire de la Fondation de France highlight just how dynamic philanthropy is in France. From 2001 to 2011, the number of foundations increased 60%, and their total assets rose 72% from 2001 to 2009 (representing €14.3 billion in 2009). French foundations still primarily focus their support on health/research (47% of expenditure in 2009) and social initiatives (32%, up 12 percentage points since 2001). Since the endowment fund status (offering a great deal of flexibility) was created in France in August 2008, these funds have become the preferred choice for philanthropic vehicles with nearly 500 such vehicles at the end of 2010.

Francis Charhon, Chairman of CFF, explained that philanthropy has developed in France in a very encouraging environment over the last ten years. He also pointed out that this framework should be preserved in order to take on the challenge of funding public-interest projects. Cyril Maury, the Founder of the endowment fund Après-Demain, explained an approach based on entrepreneurship: entrepreneurs serving as developers, putting their skills to use for family philanthropy projects.

Firoz Ladak, Executive Director of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, focused on the emphasis that must be placed on the quality of philanthropic approach and the tools implemented to assess social impact. Serving as an active player in the emergence of private philanthropy – thus contributing to the growing professionalism of the social sector by creating innovative models – is a core part of our missions. Dialogue and interaction should therefore be strengthened in order to make the sector more dynamic, encourage knowledge sharing and establish practical, collaborative solutions for the social challenges we face today.