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European Research Network on Philanthropy

Institutional member

Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sectorinstitutforsammfunsforskning
Institute for Social Research 


Bernard Enjolras
Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector
Institute for Social Research
email: bernard.enjolras@

The Centre for Research On Civil Society and Voluntary Sector at the Institue for Social Research was established in 2008 and has its headquarters in Oslo, Norway. Major academic disciplines are political science, sociology, and economics. Key research topics are volunteering, voluntary organization, voluntary sector, civic engagement, and social change. Research questions addressed by the Centre are, among others:

  • What are the antecedents, characteristics, forms and effects of volunteering and civic engagement and how do they change over time?
  • How do societal, technological and political factors contribute to the transformation of the size, scope of the third sector and its components?
  • What are the main income sources of the third sector and how do they evolve over time?
  • How do public policies impact on the economy of the third sector and vice versa?
  • How do to third sector organizations contribute to democracy?


Introduction on Giving Research in Norway

Karl Henrik Sivesind[1]

Philanthropy has only in recent years become a significant force in society in Norway, and thereby also increasingly a research topic. Still, volunteering and non-market transactions are the primary way for the population to support nonprofit organisations. However, the share of the population that donates money is increasing as a result of an increasingly professional operation by fundraising organisations focusing on recruiting personal sponsors and regular donors. In addition, a number of large foundations have changed the foundational landscape since year 2000. Partly as a result of rich families and persons donating money to grant-making foundations in science, medicine, culture and arts, and partly as a result of conversion of mutual insurance companies and saving banks to limited companies, resulting in foundations representing the former mutual ownership. As a result, the research on giving in Norway also has increased in recent years.

Research on individual giving has primarily been done at the Institute for Social Research. Donations from households were an important part of the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Study, done for the first time in Norway for the year 1997 (Sivesind, Lorentzen, Selle, & Wollebæk, 2002; Sivesind et al., 2004). Data on household giving was updated for 2004 (Sivesind, 2007) and 2009 (Sivesind, 2012, 2015; Wollebæk & Sivesind, 2010). In this chapter, some new data for 2014 will also be presented.

Several studies of foundations have also been conducted at the Institute for Social Research (Lorentzen, 2001, 2004; Lorentzen & Dugstad, 2010; Sivesind & Arnesen, 2015), by The Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority (Lotteri og stiftelsestilsynet, 2012; The Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority, 2013), and by the University of Agder (Prof. Morten Øgård, and dissertations by PhD Susan T. Furrebø, Master Nicole Elgueta Silva, etc).

Deloitte conducts an annual survey of fundraising organisations in Norway in collaboration with The Norwegian Fundraising Association (Norges Innsamlingsråd). The focus is on changes in sources of funding for the various organisations.

Corporate social responsibility has been studied primarily at Norwegian Business School, in particular by Prof. Atle Midttun and Senior Researcher Caroline Ditlev-Simonsen, who has a PhD on the topic.

Overview of Giving in Norway


Table 18.6 shows that half of all income to philanthropic contributions in Norway came from individual donations. Gaming and lotteries accounts for just 31 percent, even when income from all registered activities are included. Grants from foundations were 18 percent and the contribution from individual bequests to some of the largest fundraising organisations was just 2 percent. These figures do not include donation from corporations or large donations from individuals that don’t go through foundations. The latter are too infrequent to show up in a reliable manner in population surveys on donations to voluntary organisations. Donations from households to charitable purposes other than voluntary organisations are also not covered by the survey.

Table 1. Sources of contributions in 2013 in millions*

Sources of contribution million EUR percentage
Individuals In vivo 503 55 %
Individuals Bequests 36 4 %
Corporations n/a n/a
Foundations[6] 373 41 %
Registered gaming and lotteries n/a n/a
Total 912 100%

* The year is 2011 for contributions from foundations and 2014 for individual in vivo donations, see tables above.

Table 2 shows rough estimates for how the philanthropic contributions are distributed to different purposes (ICNPO-categories). Sports get the largest share with 20 percent, followed by religion, health, culture, and education and research with 12 each. Somewhat smaller shares go to social services with 11 percent, and other with 9 percent. This shows that when all sources of contributions are seen together, there is a relatively even distribution of funding. Sports get a lot of money from gaming and lotteries (determined share from Norsk Tipping and grass root share), but little from donations and foundations. International aid gets money mainly from donations. Culture gets money from gaming and lotteries (determined share from Norsk Tipping), but also from foundations. Health and Social Services get money from donations, bequests, foundations (research in medicine), and gaming and lotteries (Extra lottery and a determined share from Norsk Tipping to social and humanitarian organisations), and consequently have a broader set of sources than the other categories.

Table 2. Uses of contributions in 2013

million EUR percentage
International aid (9) 221 14 %
Religion (10) 181 12 %
Sports  (1 200) 316 20 %
Health (3) 180 12 %
Culture, art and recreation (1 100 and 1 300) 181 12 %
Social services (4) 166 11 %
Education and research (2) 183 12 %
Other (not specified) 128 8 %
Total 1 556 100%

The total amount of monetary donations from these sources was € 1.56 billion. In comparison, more than 60 % of the population volunteered during the last 12 month period in 2014, and a very large part of that time was used to generate cash income for the organisations through flea markets, coffee and hot dog sales, as well as through arranging sports and culture events and festivals. According to Statistics Norway, the replacement value of 15,000 fulltime equivalent working years of volunteering in 2013 was € 8.6 billion [NOK 76.86 billion]. The estimated value of the households’ donations to voluntary organisations was in comparison € 503 million in 2014 or just 6 % of the added value of volunteering. In addition, the Norwegian population supports certain organisations by buying books, toilet paper, washing detergents, and fleas and by a large number of passive memberships that cannot be considered as normal market transactions. Furthermore, nonprofit organisations generate value added through their welfare services and other operations paid for partly by the government and partly by the citizens. Outside of the welfare field, Norwegian nonprofit organisations generate surprisingly large share of their income through their own activity, whereas the share from donations is close to the average of western EU-countries (Arnesen, Sivesind, & Gulbrandsen, 2016; Sivesind, 2007, 2012; Sivesind et al., 2004; Sivesind & Selle, 2010). Even if one may argue that the value of volunteering set as the normal pay per hour in similar industries is too high[7], there can be no doubt that volunteering and non-market transactions still are the most important contributions from the Norwegian population to nonprofit organisations.


[1] Institute for Social Research, Oslo

[6] Giving derived from income from endowments only

[7] The value added of volunteering is the replacement value according to the UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts (United Nations, 2003).


Sivesind, K. H. (2017) Research on Giving in Norway. 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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