Creating impact through philanthropy – A Nordic perspective  

Zurich/Stockholm [ ]: Today, UBS and the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum launched a study on philanthropy in the Nordic countries, entitled "Creating impact through philanthropy – a Nordic perspective". The study was based on in-depth interviews with over 40 philanthropists across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden focusing on issues such as donor motivations and influences, philanthropic practices and operations, challenges and obstacles to giving, the forms of support philanthropy can facilitate, and how its impacts might be strengthened.

The report demonstrates the very specific flavor of Nordic philanthropy. It does not exist in a vacuum from public funding and institutions, but rather complements it in providing public goods and has the potential to create innovative solutions to address contemporary challenges. Philanthropists themselves are tending to give earlier in their lives and take a more active role in the projects and the organizations they support. There is also an increasing interest in measuring and evaluating philanthropy’s impact.

According to the study, philanthropic interests are driven by personal connections to the issues. Family involvement remains important despite a culture of individualism. Of the areas supported, scientific research and the care of children and youth are most prioritized. And for the majority, philanthropy is primarily a domestic affair, although more than half also have some degree of international involvement.

Nordic philanthropists are becoming more strategic, focused, professional and collaborative, with two-thirds collaborating with other philanthropists and organizations. They also consider that all actors in society share a responsibility for societal development; hence an increasingly holistic and impact-driven approach could be identified. There is also a growing interest in new and innovative forms of giving. Recent examples are venture philanthropy, social impact investing, and social impact bonds.

Silvia Bastante de Unverhau, Head of UBS’s Philanthropy Advisory, explains the rationale behind this report, "Despite the scarcity of literature on the subject, Nordic countries have a long tradition of philanthropy and many philanthropists in the region are at the forefront of innovative ideas and approaches to combat some of the most pressing social challenges. Creating impact through philanthropy provides key insights into the very flavor of Nordic philanthropy while crucially also identifying drivers of future success in the development of philanthropy in the region."

Johanna Palmberg, Research Director of the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum and co-author of the report commented:  "There are a number of ways in which individuals may be incentivized to engage in philanthropy: successful philanthropists being role models, possibilities to deduct taxes for philanthropic initiatives and opportunities for public procurement for social entrepreneurs."

Over the past decade, economic growth has led to an increase in private wealth accumulation while the Nordic welfare model has come under increasing pressure. This is translating into an ever-greater need for philanthropy. Against this backdrop, Nordic philanthropy is in a strong position to enhance its impact as it gathers the experience and skill to become an even stronger societal force.

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För interviews and comments:
Pontus Braunerhjelm, Research Director Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum and Professor Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, + 46 72-965 55 69.
Johanna Palmberg, Research Director Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum and Associate Professor Södertörn University, +46 72-375 79 75.
Silvia Bastante de Unverhau, Head of Philanthropy Advisory, UBS Switzerland AG, +41-79-583 54 18.
Nina Hoas, Philanthropy Advisor, UBS Switzerland AG, +41-79-464 88 43.

Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum is the leading network organization for initiating, conducting and communicating policy relevant research in the field of entrepreneurship, innovation, business dynamics and growth.

UBS Philanthropy Advisory's award-winning global team provides individual philanthropists with objective, independent and tailored advice which helps them to create their own solution. Its philanthropy advisors deliver not only expertise but also inspiration, from UBS's global network of philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and public leaders.