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European Research Network on Philanthropy
Introduction on Giving Research in Lithuania

Egle Vaidelyte & Egle Butkeviciene[1]

Philanthropy and giving research are at the margins of academic interest and statistics in Lithuania. Due to specific historical and political experience based on the non-existence of a philanthropic tradition during the communist period, an underdeveloped philanthropic culture, for many years giving was not identified as a social phenomenon or a relevant object of research. The historian Aleksandravicius (2004) argues that contrary to an old philanthropic tradition that has its origins at Middle Ages, in present day Lithuania it is still rather weak due to the civic tradition gaps that arose during the Soviet occupation period. Now there are a few researchers in Lithuania who can identify their academic focus on philanthropy studies and a few empirical systematic data on philanthropy in Lithuania.

Nevertheless, some qualitative studies and quantitative surveys have been conducted in recent decades, and are introduced below as milestones of philanthropy research in Lithuania. The qualitative research on the perception of philanthropy and philanthropic action “Philanthropy in post-communist Lithuania” was carried out in spring 2003 by Egle Vaidelyte as a part of her PhD research in sociology. For the empirical analysis Vaidelyte (2006) also employed the results of the representative quantitative survey “Philanthropy in Lithuania 2003”[2]. This survey up to now is the only representative survey that reflects a holistic view of public perceptions and attitudes towards philanthropy in Lithuania.

In her PhD thesis Vaidelyte (2006) characterizes philanthropy in Lithuania by particular and sometimes contradictory features, a dichotomist perception of philanthropy, and inconsistent philanthropic action. Post-communist Lithuania society identifies philanthropy with the Christian paradigm with a strong focus on social issues, although philanthropic players often come up against traditional values from the pre-WWII (pre-communist) period, contemporary political culture, socio-economic factors and by actions provoked by the way of living in the contemporary society. The high expectations of the state to foster philanthropic initiatives are also mentioned.

The abovementioned specificity of the perception of philanthropy is also revealed in the survey that was carried out in 2004 and that focused on the 50 biggest Lithuanian private companies[3]. The results indicated that the private companies of that time were donating solely to social projects (BAPP, 2005). Surprisingly or not, similar tendencies of the perception of  philanthropy in society that eventually became public policy were reflected a decade later in a EUFORI study[4], which revealed that Lithuanian businesses do not really understand or are aware of the business benefits that different philanthropic models serve, and that Lithuania lacks consistent government policy towards philanthropy issues (Jatautaite, Vaidelyte 2014). Another project on philanthropy to be mentioned is the “National Strategy for Culture Philanthropy in Lithuania”[5], which was based on qualitative research including 20 in-depth interviews on cultural philanthropy issues with philanthropy players (donors, recipients and intermediaries). The results of this research indicated that the majority of philanthropy players have high expectations in terms of government support for cultural philanthropy and public policy fostering philanthropic giving (Vaidelyte et al. 2014).

Overview of Giving in Lithuania

There are few representative surveys revealing giving tendencies in Lithuania, so the philanthropy landscape in Lithuania has a limited view. The majority of the conducted research is focused on specific fields of philanthropy; the available data are rather fragmented and difficult to compare. Table 1. below shows the total giving for legal entities in 2013.

Table 1. Support received by all Lithuanian legal entities in 2013 [all types of donors]

million EUR percentage
Religion 7.5525 6.9 %
Health 9.8186 8.9 %
International aid N/A
Public/social benefits (national) 14.9878 13.7 %
Culture 10.7785 9.8 %
Environment/nature/ animals (inter)nat. 0.4413 0.4 %
Education 9.4217 8.6 %
Other (not specified) 56.6074 51.7 %
Total 109.6078 100 %

Source: Statistics Lithuania, 2013

The challenge in evaluating philanthropy in Lithuania is that different national and international representative surveys use different methodologies, and the share of respondents who declare that they had donated to charity varies over rather a wide range. According to the World Giving Index, in 2013 Lithuania ranked 112 out of 135 (CAF, 2014). However, contrary to the results of international surveys, national research indicates that the majority of Lithuanians donate to charity. Research on giving carried out by the Civic Responsibility Foundation in Lithuania “Charitable giving to Non-governmental Organizations by Lithuanian Residents“ declared that in 2013 more than half of Lithuanian habitants said that over the past 12 months they had donated to charity. The growing popularity of crowd funding is revealed in another national representative survey that was conducted in Lithuania in 2012. According to the survey results the majority of respondents declared they had donated money or goods during the last 12 months. On the other hand, the data from the European Social Survey (ESS6, 2012) indicate that the majority of Lithuanians (76.4 %) declared that in the last 12 months they had never been involved in the work of voluntary or charitable organisations.

Qualitative surveys in 2004 and 2014 indicated that the perception of philanthropy peculiar to Lithuania and based on a traditional understanding of giving has not changed much over the last decade. The respondents indicated that the main problems in philanthropy are related to the role of the State and public policy towards philanthropy issues in Lithuania. On the other hand, philanthropy in Lithuania also lacks private initiatives and civic engagement. Lithuania still lacks forms of philanthropy such as charity lotteries or giving by bequest. The qualitative and quantitative data indicate that the main field of giving in Lithuania is focused on traditional philanthropy values related to social issues. According to national and international surveys, the main recipients of donations, especially individual ones, appear to be health, social support, and the church or religious communities.

As discussed above, there are several initiatives fostering a philanthropic culture and practice in Lithuania related to the media, or virtual space, private charitable giving. At present the best-developed continuous statistical data on charity and philanthropy are provided by Lithuania Statistics. However, the scope of the data provided by Lithuania Statistics is rather limited; it is just focused on the giving and receiving of legal bodies, and it is not possible to acquire data on specific aspects such as charity lotteries, individual donations etc. Thus, the question of institutionalized initiatives on longitudinal giving research is still rather open.


[1] Public Policy and Administration Institute, Kaunas University of Technology

[2] The survey was conducted by the public opinion research agency Baltijos tyrimai and was funded by the Lithuanian Open Society Foundation in 2003.

[3] The survey was carried out by the market research company TNS Gallup and was funded by the Baltic – American Partnership Program in Lithuania (BAPP).

[4] The EURopean Study On Foundations (EUFORI) (2011-2014) funded by the EC Directorate General Research and Innovation, coordinated by the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU University Amsterdam.

[5] Project funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and coordinated by the Future Society Institute.


Vaidelyte, E. & Butkeviciene, E. (2017) Research on Giving in Lithuania. 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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