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“The philanthropist is an entrepreneurial leader of a project of social transformation”, says CaixaBank and IE University report on Spanish philanthropists

CaixaBank and IE University report on Spanish philanthropists

The study gathers the conclusions from interviews with philanthropists, foundation managers and experts in the sector.

CaixaBank Banca Privada’s Social Value Project and IE University’s IE Center for Families in Business have published Profiles of Personal Philanthropy in Spain, an in-depth analysis of philanthropy in the country that portrays philanthropists as entrepreneurial leaders of social transformation projects.

The pioneering study aims to bring the figure of donors closer to society and to highlight their contribution. In addition, the research provides two main recommendations: the professionalization of this work, and alliances to find synergies among philanthropists. To this end, philanthropists already have entities that have added a complete consultancy to their business in this respect. CaixaBank Private Banking, with its Social Value Project, collaborates with important actors in the sector to advance the recommendations put forward in the study.

The research is the result of more than 50 hours of interviews with Spain’s leading philanthropists, as well as with foundation managers and experts in the sector. The study has focused on the profile of individual philanthropists, and covers both philanthropy organized around a foundation, driven by so-called major philanthropists, and by small or medium contributions to other projects, which also generates change and improvements in their fields of action.

The combination of the qualitative analysis of all the information collected allows us to identify three profiles of philanthropists in Spain:

  • The emotional: establishes a personal link with the project.
  • The generational: motivated by legacy and the need for a balance between philanthropy and business.
  • The strategic: moved by the how and focused on the efficiency of the project.

While these three profiles share common challenges, each faces particular challenges in implementing its philanthropic project.

Different Profiles and the Need to Strengthen the Ecosystem

The study shows that while all philanthropists interviewed share a vision of philanthropy as “an act of generosity,” they differ in defining their cause and the tools to implement it, indicating the diversity of philanthropic profiles in Spain. This diversity explains the complexity of philanthropy, since there are no “one-size-fits-all recipes” as the report’s authors point out, but rather each are adapted to their respective philanthropic profile.

Jordi Casajoana, Director of Value Groups and Philanthropy at CaixaBank Banca Privada, says “managing this complexity requires a strong philanthropic ecosystem that encourages people with an altruistic vocation to carry out their work with the maximum guarantees to generate the greatest possible social impact”. However, analysis of the field interviews suggests that Spain is still far from having this ecosystem that favors philanthropy. “There is a lack of meeting points for philanthropists in our country, and instruments that encourage the participation of society in activities related to philanthropy,” concludes Casajoana.

Recommendations and Good Practices for Philanthropy

The study by CaixaBank and IE University offers a series of recommendations and good practices for philanthropy. Among these are providing greater professionalism to projects, which involves applying good corporate governance practices, achieving greater levels of transparency, planning for succession to ensure the sustainability of the project, and trying to attract qualified personnel. It is also necessary to make greater use of new technologies and to design evaluation systems that allow the impact to be measured and managed in a continuous and agile manner. “The philanthropist is an entrepreneurial leader of a project of social transformation,” say the researchers who have participated in the creation of the study, Dr. Cristina Cruz, Academic Director of the IE Center for Families in Business, and Rachida Justo, Director of the Department of Entrepreneurship at IE University. The authors of the report recommend that “the business knowledge” that many philanthropists have should be transferred to their philanthropic vision, “especially in areas such as project management and impact measurement”. Drs. Cruz and Justo also advocate for “alliance building between philanthropists and the social impact ecosystem.”

Spanish philanthropists before COVID-19

Current data seems to indicate that, like their European neighbors, philanthropists in Spain have shown a capacity to respond to the most immediate needs caused by the virus, changing priorities in the types of projects programmed, and significantly increasing the amount of funds initially allocated. In short, philanthropy in Spain has acted in a reactive, agile and very committed way.

As the virulence and extent of the pandemic gradually diminishes, the challenge is to know whether we are facing in-depth changes in the sector or if these are short-term responses that will not survive the inertia of past habits, especially considering the possible negative effect of the economic crisis on the availability of funds by philanthropists themselves. For this reason, as the report states, it is even more important than ever to build alliances and address social problems from a collaborative approach, something that is still a pending issue in our country if we compare it with some of the coordinated responses that have flourished in other parts of the world.

CaixaBank Private Banking and the social value project

This first study on philanthropy in Spain was created with a long-term vision in mind. CaixaBank Banca Privada is making an important effort to disseminate and promote philanthropy among its clients through its Social Value Project. The Social Value Project offers an advisory service on philanthropy and sustainable investment and with this study opens a line that aims to give visibility to philanthropic activity in Spain as a contribution to creating the strong ecosystem demanded by the participants in the study.