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European Research Network on Philanthropy
Introduction on Giving Research in Croatia

Gojko Bežovan[1]

The topic of philanthropy in Croatia is not adequately addressed as a research topic nor covered by empirical findings. There is a scarcity of research on philanthropy and statistical databases are very poor in this respect. It could be said that philanthropy is neither a research topic nor a policy issue in Croatia. It is only occasionally debated in public, usually in the context of specific activities concerning humanitarian aid or actions, often covered in the media, who highlight the negative image of humanitarian organisations. Providing humanitarian aid has often been accompanied by alleged misuses of donations, which has led to a negative perception of humanitarian organisations by the public. Therefore, in 2014 the Croatian Government initiated a proposal for a new act on humanitarian aid, with the main aim of increasing transparency in collecting and providing humanitarian aid. This proposal was based on the concepts, among others, of: defining clearer criteria for organisations to get permission to collect and distribute aid, and greater control over humanitarian actions and using donations (Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, 2014).

As regards the research on giving, as mentioned earlier, there is a lack of comprehensive and up-to-date research, as well as official statistical data.

The abovementioned proposal of the act on humanitarian aid in its introductory part serves as a source of information of a number of humanitarian actions undertaken, and on the value of donations over the last couple of years.

The data from official statistics are mostly not publicly available. The Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (CROSTAT) collects data through the Household Budget Survey, which encompass several questionnaires. They include the following questions regarding donations:

  • Articles of food and beverages for personal consumption – gifts received and given
  • The value of received gifts in cash from persons outside households
  • Giving in cash to persons in the country and abroad
  • Voluntary contributions in cash to religious and humanitarian organisations

Data on individual and business tax deductions (tax incentives for donations) are collected by the tax administration of the Ministry of Finance, but are also not publicly available. According to the USAID 2012 CSO Sustainability Index, this benefit is rarely used in Croatia, both because the benefits are not widely known and because the process for claiming tax relief is very complicated. As a result, some citizens make donations to humanitarian campaigns without reporting them on their tax returns (USAID, 2013).

The BA thesis of Mirna Baši (Baši, 2014) gives an overview of humanitarian donations by telephone. Croatian Telecom (T-HT) guarantees the phone numbers for humanitarian actions can be called free of charge, based on proposals from organizers and on the decision of the committee[2]. The author shows an increase in humanitarian actions for which the phone number was approved from 2004, reaching a peak in 2010, followed by a decrease. However, the number of actions per year that can use this phone number is limited.

Earlier research (Bežovan, Zrinš?ak, 2007) indicated an increase in citizens’ donations to humanitarian causes, which was explained by the modern technological possibilities which make donations easier (e.g. via phone calls). According to the same research, 66.8 % of citizens gave donations in cash or in kind to humanitarian causes. Prior research by Bežovan (2005) showed that nearly 70 % of citizens donated money or other material goods.

More recent research, a follow-up of the CIVICUS CSI from 2011 (Bežovan, Matan?evi?, 2011), is somewhat reduced in data. It contains empirical findings on philanthropy in variables in the structure of the income of organisations, although the data on individual philanthropy, available in the previous SCI 2003-2005, are missing here.


Research on philanthropy in Croatia is still in its early stages of development, and there are very little available data, both in terms of research findings and statistical data. However, the available data sources do not make it possible to analyse the structure and amount of contributions by the various fields (uses of contributions). There are not even any reliable data on the total contributions from sources of contribution. Statistical data on private giving (partially collected by the National Bureau of Statistics) and on tax incentives for donations from individuals and businesses are not fully available. Deeper insight into the practice of giving in Croatia could be achieved by empirical field research with national coverage, and by different sources of philanthropy. An important step towards promoting philanthropy research in academia would be the institutionalization of this discipline at the university level (e.g. founding a Chair on Philanthropy).


 [1] Institute for Social Policy, University of Zagreb



Bezovan, G. (2017) Research on Giving in Croatia. 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.