Philanthropy 2.0

It was crowded when Stockholm Philanthropy Symposium 2014 was held at the Museum of Modern Art on May 21. During the day the participants discussed the role of philanthropy on the theme Making Our Mark: English Philanthropy at Home and Around the World. 220 participants gathered to listen and discuss how philanthropy could be a major, and frequent, part of the Swedish economy.

A gift to the museum is a gift to eternity

First up among the speakers was Daniel Birnbaum, Superintendent at the Museum of Modern Art, who informed about the museum’s task to collect, preserve, display and convey the 20th and 21st century art in all its forms.

– The Swedish government decided that the age of modern art starts in the 20th century, luckily Matisse and Picasso are classified as modern.

Birnbaum described an art museum’s task to provide a collective memory of modern art as well as being an educational institution meant for understanding what art is really all about. He stressed that there is a collective philanthropic endeavor behind the exhibits. Each year art work worth millions is donated to the museum which is extremely important for its collection.

– A gift to the museum is a gift to eternity.

Daniel Birnbaum

Philanthropy means love to humanity

Trista Harris, a philanthropic futurist and President of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, said that the future is already here, leaving clues about tomorrow. To be futurewise, she advised about three steps: stop (prepare for change), look (for signs) and go! Another advice was to self-create the future, enlightened experimentation brings innovation. Additional words of wisdom were to stop loving the problem and instead ask the question: what is a desirable future and how do we get there?

– Schedule time for strategic thinking and develop your network. Also ask your colleagues odd questions, for example, what invention would you prefer if you could choose freely? It makes you think creatively.

When asked whether the American philanthropic vein is tax-driven or deeply rooted, Trista Harris responded that philanthropy means love of humanity and that there is a philanthropic impulse within the population. We are not accustomed to a welfare state like Sweden – but of course – tax deductions are also crucial, Trista Harris added.

Trista Harris

New ways for philanthropy in Sweden

Tove Lifvendahl, writer and Political Editor of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, had put together her dream panel for the theme new ways of philanthropy in Sweden.

– Philanthropy gives a feeling of few people donating large amounts, but today we see more of “folkhemsfilantropi” where more people donate smaller sums.

Aurore Belfrage, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of said that people want to give more than just things. The possibility to give something good and show it off in social media resulted in an application for smart phones.

– It is part of social branding, to show what purpose you think is important. If you are stressed and do not have time to buy a gift you can easily make a good gesture.

Martin Borgs, writer and opinion-maker who have reached the Swedish record in crowdfunding, said that philanthropy is about being human, to share with the others in the flock, those who are in need.

– My threshold were daring to ask and also maintaining momentum throughout the crowdfunding campaign.

You need to find reasons for people to donate, said Martin Borgs, who believes that crowdfunding in the future also will be directed towards research and science.

Hanna Hallin, Coordinator of Social Sustainability at H&M and previously worked at Sector 3, said that it is possible to change a society by giving.

– H&M knows how to produce fashion but we are not world champions of social change. However, we cooperate with for example UNICEF in India where we grow seed cotton to ensure that no child labor is used.

In countries where H&M operate, fundraising activities are held among customers and staff, you can also “round up” your total sum at checkout for good causes. Adding to that The Persson family have also donated half a billion SEK to the independent H&M Conscious Foundation.

– Business has a more active role nowadays, it is not like before. A company can actually pursue policy development in another country.

Martin Borgs, Hanna Hallin, Aurore Belfrage och Tove Lifvendahl

Research and philanthropy

Filip Wijkström, Associate Professor at Stockholm School of Economics, then introduced a theme with focus on society, research and philanthropy. He envisioned a new social contract, given the tremendous growth of foundations.

– We can see 1300 more foundations from 2002 to 2012, and transfers of six billion dollars every year.

Foundations will in the future take care of assignments that the welfare state used to manage. More donations will also be directed towards research, Wijkström added.

Tobias Krantz, Director of Education, Research and Innovation at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, saw a great room for philanthropy in the future.

– The university sector is more conservative but I can see it coming. Public spending cannot continue to grow, it becomes more important to find different sources of funding.

It is important to ensure that the processes stimulate innovation, said Tobias Krantz, who also believed that there will be a greater challenge for social sciences to attract donations.

Agneta Stålhandske, Director Development Office at Karolina Institute, did not see philanthropy as a new phenomenon, but admitted that a change has occurred.

– In the last decades we sent thank you letters, nowadays universities are working more actively with fundraising to attract donations. Success requires mutual trust.

A main task for the future is to find out how we communicate to find the next generation of donors, Agneta Stålhandske finished.

Mats Heiman, Founder of the Parkinson Research Foundation, told the story about how he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and decided to start a research foundation.

– I started the foundation in order to channel my energy and to fully be able to support research and take part of new research findings about the disease.

Mats Heiman, who also is a Senior Investment Manager at Nordstjernan, did not think it was particularly difficult to get started with the foundation.

– I read some but also received assistance from the bank. Now we are aiming towards the goal not to be needed.

Mats Heiman, Agneta Stålhandske och Tobias Krantz

Filip Wijkström och Johanna Palmberg (moderator)

The Nobel Prize – gold standard in motion

Lars Heikensten, Managing Director of the Nobel Foundation, said that the Nobel Prize has a significant impact on philanthropy. It has a strong recognition worldwide and can therefore work for good purposes in line with the brand. Lars Heikensten quoted Alfred Nobel’s will:

– The Nobel Prize shall be given to the person who shall have conferred the greatest benefit.

Lars Heikensten mentioned that the Laureates serve as the greatest asset when they are representing the Nobel Prize. They can be used even more for charitable purposes. The new “Nobel Centre” in Stockholm which should be completed in 2018 will also be important for attracting donors, he added.

Lars Heikensten
Lars Heikensten

Wealth Planning and Philanthropy

Nordea proactively inform customers about opportunities to donate to charity. Anders Scherlund, Head of Private Banking Sweden at Nordea Bank, said that philanthropy is a trend, and the goal is that it should be top of mind for Nordea’s customers.

– It is not just a possibility, it is also an obligation.

Christer Dagnelid, Dentist and Founder of the Swedish Dental Rescue foundation has worked for many years offering free dental care to the poorest 20 percent of the population, who can not afford going to the dentist. He presented his platform where individual dentists can apply for money to perform dentistry pro bono.

Caroline Törnqvist, Legal Advisor at Nordea Private Banking, is helping her clients writing wills. According to her, every person should think through what they want and write it down in their will. She highlighted the need to consider donating  to charity instead of allocating everything to descendants.

– Give with a warm hand instead of a cold.

Pernilla Frisk, Head of Legal Services, Corporate and Tax, Nordea Private Banking Sweden, pointed out that philanthropy in Sweden has increased. Not only rich people are philanthropists, ordinary people with ordinary income also donate small sums.

– The typical philanthropist has often made an exit of some kind, for example sold a business. If so you have more time and more capital.

Tonika Hirdman, Director General of Foundation de Luxembourg, confirmed that philanthropy is growing also across Europe.

– People donate money instead of having them disappear in taxes.

She believed that governments can do more than today in order to inform and facilitate philanthropy. Many want to donate but do not know how to.

Tonika Hirdman, Pernilla Frisk, Christer Dagnelid, Caroline Törnqvist och Anders Scherlund

Value for money

Caroline Cederlöf and Pernilla Bard has together started Social Initiative to find the right projects to invest in for individuals and businesses that wants to make a substantial difference in the world. They have traveled countries such as India, Kenya and Uganda to witness reality in poor countries and find out where money is needed to actually improve the situation. According to Caroline and Bard, it is all about doing your homework and ask for and follow up the expected results from the investments.

– Involve both the heart and the brain.

Pernilla Bard och Caroline Cederlöf

To give with a purpose

Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet, is well-known from his educational lectures on global health. He participated with his son Ola Rosling and daughter in law Anna Rosling Rönnlund who founded Gapminder that provides a software to make statistics accessible and easy to understand. Hans Rosling said that we believe that the world looks a certain way, with overpopulation in Africa and large illiteracy in India, while facts show us a different world.

– Most people still believe that Africa is the world’s most populated continent, but the world’s PIN code is 1114. Four times more people live in Asia then in Europe, America and Africa (individually).

Ola Rosling told the audience more about the software used as a tool to visualize how the world actually looks like. He believes that it is a big problem that people build their worldview on incorrect facts. An example is the image that media provides of war in the world.

– The majority of the world’s population lives in between wealth and war.

Anna Rosling explained that Gapminder is free of charge and that the company name is not mentioned when used in schools.

– The aim is to change reality, not to make money.

Rebecca Riccio, Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling och Anna Rosling Rönnlund

Philanthropic enthusiasm from the younger generation

The audience then got to listen to inspiring young social entrepreneurs who provided their social entrepreneurial ventures. Jerónimo Calderón, Founder and Executive Director of, spoke about his youth-led movement that makes social change to a cool lifestyle for Generation Y. Frustrated over the world’s injustices, Jerónimo Calderón decided to not be a complainant cynic, but actually do something about it.

– 70 percent of the population complains, only 12 percent are acting. Young people’s potential is not used to solve the world’s problems.

Through Euphoria, Jerónimo Calderón lifts euphoric meetings and creates a hype around social change communicating this via social media. Now the movement has 4000 ambassadors who work to change the world.

– You have to reach across generations in order to maximize influence, but anyone can join, youth is a state of mind.

Golnaz Hashemzadeh, Co-founder and CEO of Inkludera Invest, works to empower individuals in marginalized groups in the Swedish society to give motivation, power and utilities against any exclusion. The motive to start was when Sverigedemokraterna entered the Swedish parliament. Golnaz Hashemzadeh felt that she must do something, growing up escaping from war and coming to Sweden as a war refugee.

– I was tired of talking problems. What we need is to find ways to solve them. I think it is possible through social entrepreneurship, it has a strong power of change.

Johan Wendt, Founder of Mattecentrum, told the story about how he left his career as an engineer to do what he really likes: helping young people increasing their knowledge of and interest in mathematics. He started on a voluntary basis, to help one person through extra tuition after school. When the word spread, the borrowed classroom was full.

– I filled the classroom with math and immediately needed more teachers. Now we are helping 4700 children in 26 cities with 440 volunteers.

Now, Johan Wendt is expanding to Denmark, launching the app “Kodcentrum”, arranging video classes, celebrity math etc. By 2020 the new venture Kodcentrum is supposed to educate 100,000 young people in computer programming. This can really help reducing youth unemployment! And why do I do this? Because I can, Johan Wendt finished.

Golnaz Hashemzadeh, Jerónimo Calderon och Johan Wendt

Global Challenges and solutions by moving from why to how

Jakob von Uexkull, author, lecturer, philanthropist, activist and former politician,started out from Al Gore, who gave us a new picture of reality by creating public opinion on global warming. We all live in an increasingly hostile planet and consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.

– In Kenya, 53 percent of the population think that it is more important to combat climate change than unemployment. You can not negotiate with desertification!

The big problem is that problems spread faster than solutions. But positive change is possible. It is therefore imperative to spread the best political solutions and combine them with new initiatives. Civil society must help to bridge the gap between policy and research, and get away from a short-term focus.

– We need to put the world on track by moving from why to how ! It is not about doing your best, it is about doing what is needed.

Jakob von Uexkull

The challenge of financing development

What role has the private sector in financing developing countries? Petri Gornitzka, Director-General of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), asked that question. She proceeded telling that large companies nowadays are doing business with an ethical approach. In order to affect this in an even more positive direction, SIDA started a network of CEOs and CSR managers. The aim is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. Charlotte Petri Gornitzka also told that SIDA has entered into a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

– The purpose is to enable investments at a low risk.

Malin Ripa, Senior Vice President CSR at Volvo Group, said that collaboration with SIDA in conducting vocational training in Africa is a successful project. Volvo uses CSR as a tool to create jobs and a better economy in poor countries and couldn’t have done it without the network. Now the company is trying to inspire others to do the same thing.

– Collaboration and co-investment is the right model for the future.

Impact Invest is an intermediary that connects companies with investors, funds and business angels. Ruth Brännvall, CEO of Impact Invest Scandinavia, said that in three years they have funded about 70 companies.

– The companies we support have social and sustainable results as core business.

Ruth Brännvall, Malin Ripa och Charlotte Petri Gornitzka

Philanthropy – a large part of the world economy

Alex Buffett Rosek, grandson of businessman Warren Buffett’s sister Doris Buffett, runs the charity organization Learning by Giving. According to Alex Buffett Rosek, philanthropic capital is precious and limited and must do good. He also argued that philanthropy has become a larger part of the global economy. Learning by Giving has developed a software for educating in philanthropy. Students that are taught using the software are given 10 000 USD at the end of the course to invest in the society. Some universities match that amount, Alex Buffett Rosek said. His question was now:

– Can this be used in Sweden?

Alex Buffett Rosek concluded by inviting to make the program (M.O.O.C. – Massive Open Online Course) available for Swedish universities. He also sent a greeting from his grandmother, Doris Buffett.

– Those who have too much money ought to give them away.

Alex Buffett Rosek

The next level of philanthropy

Pontus Braunerhjelm, CEO of the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum and Professor at the Royal Institute of  Technology, KTH, rounded off the symposium by summarizing the day. He stressed that philanthropy is something that has become increasingly important.

– Let us not talk why philanthropy. Let us talk how.

It is time to take philanthropy to the next level in Sweden, Braunerhjelm stated, and ended by quoting Winston Churchill:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

Pontus Braunerhjelm

Följ oss på: