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European Research Network on Philanthropy
Introduction on Giving Research in Finland

Henrietta Grönlund[1]

Research on giving, and more generally on philanthropy, is scarce in Finland. There are no comprehensive statistics or surveys which would give an overview of philanthropic giving in the country. There are no professorships, faculties, or schools of philanthropic studies or giving. Individual researchers (and students in their theses) at different universities and polytechnics study themes related to giving, but the research is fragmented and random. Only a few regular surveys on giving have been conducted, primarily by organisations other than universities.

One of the regular (biannual) surveys on giving is conducted by the Taloustutkimus market research company, and is funded by Finnish philanthropic and non-profit organisations such as the Red Cross Finland and Save the Children Finland. The focus of this survey is on individual philanthropy, covering themes such as ways in which individuals want to give and the causes they want to support. Another survey on individual giving was commissioned by MTV, a large Finnish media company, in 2012, 2013, and 2014. These surveys were also carried out by a market research company. Additionally, Finland is included in large international surveys which measure giving in different countries such as the World Giving Index, the World Values Survey, and the European Social Survey.

Individual studies and surveys on giving have also been commissioned by Finland’s Slot Machine Association (which distributes funds from gaming to non-profit organisations in the social and health sector, approximately € 300 million annually), the Finnish Fundraising Organisation Vala (a network organisation for non-profits), and Citizen Forum (a service centre for volunteers, voluntary organisations, and professionals working in the field of volunteering). The studies were carried out by market research companies. The focus of these usually one-off surveys ranges from individual giving (who, how much, to what causes, attitudes) to the opinions of non-profits on the present state of fundraising (how fundraising is organized, what ways of giving constitute their income, what their goals of fundraising are, how they perceive the future, and the societal condition of fundraising). The Citizen Forum also conducted a survey on business executives from small and middle-sized companies in 2014. The study focused on mapping the situation corporations’ giving (how much corporations give, to what types of causes).

The National Police Board collects information related to the fundraising permits that they grant. The information includes the revenue of fundraising campaigns. This information is registered manually, it does not separate fundraising from individuals and corporations, and each organisation that has applied for a permit is reported separately. Thus, the information is difficult to use for research purposes as such. Also Finland’s Slot Machine Association and Ministries collect information from the organisations that they fund. The information collected by the National Police Board and Finland’s Slot Machine Association has been used in research, and although they give insight into the results of fundraising in Finland, they do not form a reliable overview, as different organisations have different ways of reporting costs and profits (Saari & Saukko, 2011; Saukko, 2012). To conclude, Finnish research on giving is limited. The following is concerned with what is known about giving in Finland.


The available studies give a fragmented – and in many parts deficient – picture of giving in Finland. A representative picture unfortunately cannot be formed. There are no comprehensive statistics or surveys which would give a good overview. The best available sources of information are surveys commissioned and conducted by market research companies. These surveys are commissioned by non-profits and media companies instead of universities that lack professorships, faculties, and schools focused on philanthropy.

An overview can be given on the proportion of individuals who give to charitable causes in Finland, the scale of the amounts they give, and the subsectors or causes that are most interesting to them. This information can also be examined in relation to several background variables. However, the total amount of giving or information about the amounts given to different subsectors or causes are not available. Comprehensive data on giving by corporations, giving by bequests, and giving by charity lotteries are almost non-existent. The information that can be found is limited and partially outdated.

Although Finland has a long history and a strong culture of CSOs and philanthropic activity, philanthropic giving is not a cultural norm. This is possibly due to the strong welfare state, which all tax-payers fund jointly. The ideology behind this model has also influenced the political measures securing and advancing philanthropic giving. For example, there are no fiscal incentives for individual donations in Finland (restricted incentives for corporations). The lack of research and information on philanthropic giving probably originates from this background.

Nevertheless, philanthropic giving has become increasingly visible and public, and has steadily grown to become a more accepted part of Finnish culture. Also, fundraising is becoming more and more professional. To foster this development and to better understand philanthropic giving in Finland, proper research is urgently needed.


[1] University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology


Grönlund, H. (2017). Research on Giving in Finland. 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.

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