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The Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum: the EFC's Knowledge Framework for Understanding European Philanthropy

Oct 1, 2019

This publication outlines the EFC's Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum (IPS), a flexible framework for collecting, analysing and disseminating knowledge on the European philanthropy sector. Mindful of the complex nature of European philanthropy, the Spectrum is designed to be circular rather than linear, illustrative rather than definitive, and therefore open to continuous evolution. This allows the framework to capture the interconnected characteristics of a sector that is in constant flux. Taking a functional rather than legalistic approach to understanding European philanthropy, the IPS is organised around the following key aspects of institutional philanthropy: Financial resources; use of assets; governance; practices and behaviours; and relevance. The Spectrum breaks these aspects down into detailed clusters to identify the unique features and practices of institutional philanthropy actors.


Since its inception, the EFC has been a hub of information and knowledge on European philanthropy. This knowledge provides a solid evidence base for communicating the value and impact of philanthropy and for representing the sector – to governments, policymakers and the public. For EFC members, our knowledge hub serves as a resource for informing strategic decision-making and identifying peers and partners. We believe that the Spectrum frames this knowledge in a way that allows for a deeper understanding of this diverse sector, and makes this knowledge even more useful for philanthropic organisations, enabling them to envision how they fit into the philanthropy space, and allowing them to find commonalities and explore differences with other organisations.