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European Research Network on Philanthropy
Vienna University of Economics and Business


Institute for Nonprofit Management and Center for Nonprofit Organisations and Social Entrepreneurship



Michaela Neumayr
Institute for Nonprofit Management 
WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business
email: mneumayr@

Reinhard Millner 

Center for Nonprofit Organisations and Social Entrepreneurship

email: reinhard.millner@

The Institute for Nonprofit Management and Center for Nonprofit Organisations and Social Entrepreneurship at the Vienna University of Economics and Business were in 1997 and have their headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Major academic disciplines are Business Administration, Management and Nonprofit Management. Key research topics are Individual philanthropic engagement (donations, volunteering), Foundations, Cross-sector collaborations (e.g. social impact bonds, corporate volunteering), Impact Investment and Collaboration. Research questions that are being adressed by the centre are, among others:

  • How do nonprofit organizations contribute to society, and what do they need to fulfil their pivotal societal functions?
  • How do contextual and individual factors make individuals to engage in philanthropy and to donate/volunteer to/in particular fields of charity?
  • What are the motives, practices and consequences of non-profit organizations’ collaborations with businesses (e.g. social impact bonds, corporate volunteering)?
  • What are the support needs of social entrepreneurs/of immigrant entrepreneurs?


Introduction to Giving Research in Austria

By Michaela Neumayr and Hanna Schneider [1]

Research on charitable giving is a rather young discipline in Austria. While polling institutes have been collecting data on individuals giving since 1996, scholarly research focusing on philanthropy has emerged only recently.

The main part of giving research is conducted at the Institute for Nonprofit Management (read: Institute for NPM) and the Competence Centre for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship (read: Competence Centre for NPO & SE), both belonging to WU Vienna [2]. While the Institute for NPM conducts basic research, the Competence Centre for NPO & SE is mainly dedicated to contracting research. Research on foundations is carried out by Hanna Schneider, Michael Meyer and Reinhard Millner, with an emphasis on mapping the foundation sector in Austria, most recently with a focus on foundations involved in research activities (e.g. Millner, Schneider, & Meyer, 2014; Schneider, Millner, & Meyer, 2010, 2015). Michaela Neumayr and Michael Meyer engage in research on individual giving. Among their topics of interest are cross-country differences in individual giving, giving to specific charitable subfields, giving behaviour and lifestyle, and the tax deductibility of donations (e.g. Neumayr, 2015; Neumayr & Pennerstorfer, 2015; Neumayr & Schober, 2012). Christian Schober, Ina Pervan and Ena Pervan-Al Soqauer deal with individual and corporate giving, a recent study investigates the effects of tax deduction of donations (Schober et al., 2014). The dominant academic background of the staff at both institutes is management, business and economics.

Furthermore, research on charitable giving has been conducted at the Institute of Higher Studies (read: IHS),  a non-profit research institute covering the areas of economics, political science and sociology.[3] In a series of studies it addressed the effects of increasing the tax deductibility of donations for additional purposes, since it was limited to donations to particular organisations in the field of research until 2009. The focus of the extrapolations was on the impact on private and corporate donations; the background was economics (Felderer, Fink, Kuschej, & Paterson, 2002; Paterson, 2005).

In addition to academic research, the commercial polling institute Public Opinion GmbH – Institute for Social Research (read: Public Opinion)[4] conducts population surveys on individual giving on a regular basis. Until now, data are available for 1996, 2000, and for each year from 2004 to 2014. Based on these data, Public Opinion issues purchasable reports with descriptive analyses (Public Opinion, 2014). In the last few years, Public Opinion has also collected data on corporate giving. Concerning this matter, the data for 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2015 are available. The contact person is sociologist Bernhard Hofer.

Another institution concerned with data on charitable donations is the Austrian Fundraising Association (read: FVA) [5], the largest platform for donation-collecting non-profits in Austria. On an irregular basis, the FVA conducts or commissions studies on current issues (e.g. bequest giving, corporate giving). Also, the FVA has access to data on the philanthropic income of about 250 (large) non-profit organisations, which it uses for making projections of the total volume of donations (e.g. Fundraising Verband Austria, 2013, 2014b). The contact person at FVA is Günther Lutschinger.

Finally, the Ministry of Finance possesses information on tax deducted donations, since this information is included in individual tax data. These data were used for multivariate analyses in 2011 (Neumayr & Schober, 2012). Since 2009, when the tax deductibility of donations was increased to additional causes, the Ministry of Finance has compiled descriptive data on the use of tax deductibility. Although these data are unpublished, there is aggregated information on the tax deducted donations available from statistical reports (Statistik Austria, 2015).

Overview of giving in Austria

Charitable giving is a widespread phenomenon in Austria: two out of three people make donations and three out of four corporations donate. However, in terms of non-profit funding, private philanthropy is not a very strong pillar; merely 7 per cent of the non-profit revenue originates from donations (Neumayr, Schneider, Meyer, & Haider, 2007, p. 7). Among the main reasons, therefore, is that the average amount individual and corporate donors give is modest in comparison with other European countries. Also, foundations with public purposes have not been a common donation vehicle so far, with very few flagship foundations in Austria. Moreover, major donors have played a very limited role and there has been little attention paid to bequest giving until recently. Having a well-established welfare state and a non-profit sector that is funded up to 50 per cent by public sources, a strong philanthropic culture has not fully developed yet.

The state of research on philanthropy mirrors these circumstances: basic information is available, but data are still incomplete and scattered for some sources of contributions, and the methods of collecting data are not synchronized. However, the picture is gradually becoming more complete. As shown in table 5.5, it is possible to provide a range for the total amount of money donated per year, which is estimated to be between € 512 and 939 million. The band width offered is fairly large and is an indicator of the heterogeneous data sources and study designs. Information on individual giving is probably developed best: we have data from population surveys dating back to 1996 which are representative of the population in Austria (except high-net wealth individuals who are certainly underrepresented in these surveys). Moreover, the amounts estimated do not diverge much between the different studies, and time series show that the data are plausible and constant over time. Overall, donations by individuals make up between € 360 and 410 million. This amount also comprises contributions from charity lotteries since in the questionnaires on individual giving, questions regarding charity lotteries were included. The information on bequest giving is rather vague. Based on revenue data from non-profit organisations, bequest giving was estimated to be € 50 million in 2013. Whether these data are representative for the whole non-profit sector, however, is unknown.

Sources of contributions*

Sources of contribution million EUR (band widths) percentage (band widths)

Individuals (2011, 2013)

–          thereof in vivo

–          thereof bequests (2013)

360 – 410

310 – 360


44-70 %
Corporations (2007, 2011) 123 – 468 24-50 %
Charity lotteries (2011, 2013)** 8.6 – 11.2 1-2 %
Foundations (2010)*** 29 – 61 6-7 %
Total 520 – 950 100 %

*We provide band widths since the extrapolations of different studies diverge greatly. ** Donations via charity lotteries are included in the amount given by individuals. *** Giving derived from income from endowment only

Estimates about philanthropic contributions by corporations range between € 123 and 468 million. This huge span is mainly due to the different methods used to gather and extrapolate data. The total yearly amount issued by foundations is estimated to be between € 29 and 61 million. Gaining access to foundations in general and to financial indicators in particular is very difficult in Austria; so that existing estimates rely mainly on the judgement of experts in the field. Overall, we can conclude that between half or two-thirds of the total philanthropic contributions stem from individuals, between a quarter and a half from corporations, about 6 to 7 per cent from foundations, and between 1 and 2 per cent from charity lotteries.

Due to a series of political, regulatory, socio-demographic and societal developments it is highly likely that philanthropic contributions will gain in importance in future years. The first awareness for charitable giving was triggered by a reform of the tax deductibility of donations. Austria is one of the countries in Europe that only lately introduced and increased tax deductions for donations. In 2009, the possibility of deducting charitable donations from income tax has been vastly increased. Until then, it was only possible to deduct donations for particular organisations in the field of research and education. On a symbolic level, this legal change signals that the government appreciates and promotes charitable giving. Furthermore, the deductions provide financial incentives for donors. Due to the progressive tax system in Austria, the law granting deductions favour high-income people, which might help to stimulate giving by wealthy people and major donations.

Moreover, in Austria, as elsewhere in many European countries, we will be confronted by the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth, originating from the generation born after the Second World War, which was able to accumulate substantial wealth. Against this backdrop, bequest giving will become more and more important, and might open up new opportunities for new foundations as well. Just recently announced reforms concerning foundations with a public purpose will set further incentives for new and existing foundations. Possibilities of deducting part of the initial endowment from income taxes, fewer bureaucratic procedures to set up a foundation, as well as regulations to put foundations on an equal footing with private donors as far as tax deductibility of donations is concerned, are the most important components of this reform. Additionally, recent welfare-state retrenchment calls for increased private responsibility. Non-profit organisations have to find new sources of income, among which donations delineate one option. These developments provide fertile ground for new donor types and forms, such as impact investment, venture philanthropy or crowd-funding, which have just recently appeared on the agenda in Austria. Along with these trends come new ways of thinking and funding relationships.


[1] WU Vienna, Institute for Nonprofit Management

[2] Institut für Nonprofit Management:; Kompetenzzentrum für Nonprofit Organisationen und Social Entrepreneurship:

[3] Institut für Höhere Studien:

[4] Public Opinion GmbH – Institut für Sozialforschung:

[5] Fundraising Verband Austria:


Neumayr, M. & Schneider, H. (2017) Research on Giving in Austria. In: Hoolwerf, L.K. & Schuyt, Th.N.M. (eds) Giving in Europe. The state of research on giving in 20 European countries. Amsterdam: Lenthe Publishers. A comprehensive profile and description of all data sources is available through the member portal.