December 23, 2010
It’s Christmas once again. The time for giving gifts – also gifts for the future in the form of donations for better education. If you would like to learn about the trends, challenges and opportunities in the area of philanthropic giving for education and not only during the Christmas period, then click here to find out more.
Christmas – a time for giving gifts and making donations. This year, too, many people will again respond to the appeals for donations by giving for good causes and for people in need.
Despite the crisis some 13 million people in Germany made donations totalling an estimated EUR 4 bn in 2009. Only about two percent of these donations were made to fund educational activities. If, however, disbursements by trusts and businesses are added, the share of donations made to fund education and research rises to 10%, which is a welcome development compared with the estimated share of 8% in 2008.
This development is not only confined to Germany. Particularly in the United States, social involvement – and also a culture of giving – are very pronounced on account of the state’s self-imposed very limited role. In the US individuals and foundations donated the astronomical figure of USD 30 billion for education, which is more than seven times as much as the total amount of donations made in Germany. In Asia, too – first and foremost in China and India – education is on the receiving end of donations.
Not only rich people, but also the less well-off are very committed donors. More elderly people, more women, more firms and more socially committed people from the heir generation are donating more in Germany. Besides the global, demographic, economic and social structural shifts, the contribution of more professional marketing activities by charitable organisations, kindergartens, schools and universities, and new forms such as mini-donations via internet portals is resulting in more donations being made. The most important change is that increasingly more than just money is being invested – the personal involvement of foundations, time, expert knowledge and contacts are the new gifts in philanthropy.
And what is on the receiving end of these increased donations? The purpose for which the most donations are being made is to provide better educational opportunities for those who are education hungry. In addition, ideas are also important to foundations and donors. Donations are made, for example, to promote initiatives in the technical, engineering and science subjects or for more conservation and humanistic values. Moreover, institutional and local identities appear to be the focus of donors. They make donations because they are close to certain institutions and/or because they have strong ties with their home town.
Furthermore , it is the sustainable impact of their gifts for the future that appears to be more important to the foundations and the donors. Their involvement is becoming more discriminating, more professional and more project-oriented. More foundations are being established. Key figures and ratings to assess the professionalism and sustainability of the commitment are on the increase. Competitions are being conducted so that funding goes to the best-thought-out projects from educational establishments. Partnerships are also being forged between foundations and donors, public sector entities and recipients of funding in order to provide a sustained boost to future investment
Looking forward to next year, the economic upturn makes it likely that donations will be even larger – also for education. Now action has to be taken to prevent the state from relinquishing the funding of education, as is already partly the case in the United States. Philanthropic funding must not take the place of government funding. In view of the rising demand for qualifications charitable organisations, educational and research institutions need more gifts for the future to do a better job of shaping technological and societal progress. We need even more private, partnership-based, sustainable commitment that is geared to achieving the biggest impact possible as well as more investment and donations for education and research. If we want to activate them as a society, we must create a more coherent regulatory, education, labour market and taxation framework for more project-oriented philanthropy. Since the boundaries between for-profit and not-for-profit activities are becoming more blurred there is a need for the development of new ways of assessing voluntary work and providing social security to those involved in project-oriented tasks. Many education providers are already only able to operate sustainably because they combine profit-oriented activities and donations in the form of money, time, expertise and contacts.
A great deal more needs to be donated for education than is currently the case. In order to achieve this educational establishments and charitable organisations need to come up with a mix of ideas and well-communicated initiatives, individual and institutional integrity also by using good evaluation processes, as well as establishing a professional, thematic and regional identity and maintaining individual contacts. Let us hope that this and better frameworks will result in more people giving gifts for the future – donating for charitable causes and for education in order to open up more learning opportunities and better prospects.
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