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The Netherlands

European Research Network on Philanthropy

Institutional Members

Erasmus University
Rotterdam School of Management

File:RSM standard logo square.png


Lucas Meys
Department of Business-Society Management
Rotterdam School of Management
email: l.meys@

The department of Business-Society Management at the Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University, the Netherlands was established in 2003. The major academic discipline is business administration. Key research topics of the department are corporate philanthropy, volunteering, volunteer management, corporate foundations and, civil society. Research questions addressed by the department are, among others:

  • How to sustain voluntary and philanthropic energy?
  • What is the added value of philanthropy and volunteering?
  • How can volunteers be managed?
  • How can we understand civil society as a concept and in relation to the government and business?
  • How are (endowed) foundations managed? 

VU AmsterdamVUlogo
Center for Philanthropic Studies


René Bekkers
Department of Sociology / Center for Philanthropic Studies
VU Amsterdam
email: r.bekkers @

The Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam was established in 1995 and has its headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Major academic disciplines are sociology, public administration, social psychology, demography, economics, and communication science. Key research topics of the center are giving, volunteering, foundations, donation of bodily material, grant-making, and crowdfunding. Research questions addressed by the center are, among others:

  • Who gives what, when, where, and why, and to what effect?
  • What are the effects of restrictions on funding practices by grantmaking organizations on the effectiveness of grantee organizations?
  • How do civil society organizations affect the size, composition and effectiveness of philanthropy?
  • How can we understand and explain the donation of bodily material?
  • What is the impact of institutions and regulation on philanthropy and on its impact in society? 
  • How does volunteering contribute to health, well-being, and social productivity? 

Introduction on Giving Research in the Netherlands

Barry Hoolwerf, Renske Sanders and Dave Verkaik[1]

In the Netherlands, the primary institution for research on philanthropy is the Center for Philanthropic Studies (CPS) at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (VU). Furthermore, at the Erasmus University and the Rotterdam School of Management (also Erasmus University) there is a group of researchers that is working on philanthropy-related issues. Most of these researchers are affiliated with the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP). Also, research on philanthropy is being conducted at Maastricht University and Utrecht University. Finally, University College Windesheim (Zwolle) has an interest in philanthropy research as well.

The Center for Philanthropic Studies at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam has been the leading center of expertise on philanthropy in the Netherlands since 1995. By initiating and developing the longitudinal survey on giving in the Netherlands, it has established itself as an important source of information on giving by households, corporations, foundations, and charity lotteries in the Netherlands. In 2008, it was one of the founders of the European Research Network On Philanthropy (ERNOP), and since then has become one of the leading research centres studying philanthropy in Europe.

The Center produces research and courses that contribute to the professionalization of philanthropy. As philanthropic studies are multidisciplinary by nature, both teaching and research at the Center are fed by multiple disciplines, including the social and behavioural sciences (economics, psychology, sociology, public administration, organisational sciences) and law.

Research at the Center for Philanthropic Studies quantifies the origin, destination, and effects of philanthropy at the micro, meso, and macro levels in the form of charitable giving, volunteering, and bequest giving. All sources of contributions are studied, including households, foundations, corporations and lotteries. In addition, the Center studies the behaviour of non-profit organisations, charities and foundations, as well as, policy and laws related to philanthropy. As new forms of financing and collaboration enter the stage, the Center is currently investigating crowdfunding, social enterprises, venture philanthropy, and social impact investments.

The Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP) was established in 2009 by two schools at Erasmus University, the Erasmus School of Economics, the Rotterdam School of Management, and a leading Dutch family foundation. It is an independent center located on the Erasmus University campus in Rotterdam to facilitate access for academics in the disciplines of economics, management, social sciences, law, history, and philosophy. The ECSP aims to be a knowledge and learning center that contributes to the performance and effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. Its mission is to support, stimulate, and challenge non-grantseeking European foundations in realizing their full potential for societal benefit. It offers capacity building services to establish and set up foundations and their main stakeholders. The Center initiates boundary-crossing research projects, develops competence-oriented training and education programs, and provides complementary advisory services on request, as well as emphasizing its intermediary role between academics and practitioners, and supporting the learning dialogue between these groups.

At Maastricht University the Elisabeth Strouven Foundation has founded a chair of philanthropy and social innovation. The chair is part of the European Center for Corporate Engagement at Maastricht’s University School of Business and Economics. The chair has a specific focus on giving by the elderly, as they account for a large part of individual donors and are expected to be the major driver behind the ‘golden age of philanthropy’. The latter refers to the expected intergenerational transfer of wealth in the coming decades.

A number of foundations have also founded a fellowship for studying Maecenas and civil society, with a specific focus on the recession that took place between 2008-2013 in Western Europe. The fellowship is attached to the Interdisciplinary Center of Culture, Citizenship and Human Rights at Utrecht University. Finally, University College Windesheim (Zwolle) mainly focusses on teaching about fundraising, grant making, and sponsoring.

Overview of Giving in the Netherlands

For the Netherlands, representative and valid data on charitable donations by individuals, corporations, and charity lotteries are available due to the extensive bi-annual research carried out by the Center for Philanthropic Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Data on bequests and foundations are more challenging to obtain. Churches, museums, hospitals, and educational institutions do not report their incomes from bequests, and data on the financial support from a large number of endowed foundations are unavailable. The amounts presented for these sources should be interpreted as lower bound estimates.

Table 17.9 Sources of contributions in 2013

Sources of contribution million EUR percentage


        In vivo


1 944


45 %

6 %

Corporations 1 363 31 %
Charity lotteries 494 11 %
Foundations[5] 290 7 %
Total 4 356 100 %

 Table 17.10 Uses of contributions in 2013

million EUR percentage
Religion 977 22 %
Health 535 12 %
International aid 577 13 %
Public/social benefit (national) 547 13 %
Culture 281 6 %
Environment/nature/ animals (inter)national 356 8 %
Education 208 5 %
Sports and education 554 13 %
Other (not specified) 321 7 %
Total        4 356 100 %


[1] Center for Philanthropic Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

[5] Giving derived from income from endowment only


Hoolwerf, L.K., Sanders, R., & Verkaik, D. (2017) Research on Giving in the Netherlands. In: Hoolwerf, L.K. & Schuyt, Th.N.M. (eds) (2017) 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.