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European Research Network on Philanthropy
Marta Rey Garcia
School of Economics and Business
University of A Coruna
email: martarey@

Current research projects on philanthropy in Spain

More information on current research projects on philanthropy in Spain can be found at

Inditex Chair on Social Responsibility at the University of A Coruña



Current state of Giving Research in Spain
A methodological approach
When approaching the measurement of household charitable giving in Spain, not only survey design and statistical exploitation methodologies, but also the definition of basic concepts, vary widely. The three key differential points refer to the definitions utilized for “household”, “donations” and “charitable organizations” when researching charitable giving.
What do we mean by “household” giving? Private giving to public good causes or philanthropy can be originated from different “donor” categories (Salamon and Anheier 1999). A proposal for a classification that builds on that donor-oriented typology, integrates donation mechanisms, and adapts to Spanish contemporary reality follows:
1. Direct household giving during the life of individuals, both to third-party individuals and nonprofits, or by endowing a foundation.
2. Direct household giving by will (bequests), both to third-party individuals and nonprofits, or by endowing a foundation.
3. Indirect household giving through tax benefits regulated in the Spanish “Nonprofit Organizations and Charitable Giving Fiscal Law” (Ley 49/2002 de régimen fiscal de las entidades sin fines lucrativos y de los incentivos fiscales al mecenazgo), i.e. tax credit on the “Tax on Individual Income” (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas or IRPF).
4. Indirect household giving through differential subsidization mechanisms such as the tax designation scheme implemented in the 0.7% of the “Tax on Individual Income” (López Tello 2008, Carmichael 2008) .[1]
5. Indirect household giving through official lotteries and private raffles (e.g. ONCE, Asociación Española contra el Cáncer) and collections (Cáritas and NGOs tied to the Catholic Church).
6. Corporate giving (“corporate social responsibility“, “mecenazgo empresarial”, “gasto empresarial en fines de interés general”, etc) which includes:
  • direct corporate expenditure.
  • giving through corporate foundations.
  • giving through tax benefits regulated in the 49/2002 Law (tax credit on the “Corporate Tax” or Impuesto de Sociedades) and differential subsidization mechanisms (i.e. giving to eligible public good institutions or initiatives prioritized in each year’s “State General Budget Law” (Ley de Presupuestos Generales del Estado).
  • giving through lotteries and collections.
7. A distinctive Spanish feature is the heavy weight of savings banks expenditure on public good initiatives or “obra social”. Although Spanish savings banks are themselves financial entities of foundational nature, their “obra social” is nowadays also marketed to stakeholders as corporate social responsibility.
8. Nonprofit institutions (foundations, associations, etc) giving, both direct and through tax benefits (tax exemptions on the “Corporate Tax”).
9. Other institutional giving.
Table 1. A proposal for a classification of private giving in Spain
Private Giving
Household Giving
Corporate and Institutional Giving
·          During life
of donors
·          Bequests
·          Tax benefits
(tax credits)
·          Differential
·          Lotteries,
raffles and
·          Corporate
expenditures in
public good
·          Corporate
·          Independent
·          Other
·          Tax benefits
(tax credits,
tax exemptions)
·          Differential
·          Lotteries,
raffles and
Direct private giving (as opposed to private giving through tax benefits, differential subsidization or lottery mechanisms) can utilize different distribution channels:
1. It can be directly donated to the target population by individuals (“man-to-man philanthropy”), corporations or institutions.
2. It can be directed to the charitable organizations which donate the aid or deliver the service to the target population.
3. It can be donated to intermediary charitable organizations which then refund those nonprofit organizations supplying the aid or service to the target population.
What do we mean by “donations”? The second distinction to be made is between donation of cash or products, i.e. goods or services, which can be easily market-valued, and the donation of time (volunteering). Cash donations are more easily and frequently quantified than in-kind donations; but valuing volunteering is even more difficult. Membership fees or “cuotas” should not be considered donations.
What do we mean by “charitable organizations” in Spain? An important methodological distinction should be made between the fiscal law approach, the nonprofit sector approach and the social economy approach when researching the Third Sector in Spain. The first approach utilizes a narrow definition of “charitable organizations” as stated in the “Nonprofit Organizations and Charitable Giving Fiscal Law” (Ley 49/2002), which would include the following:
1. foundations (it should be noted that the right to found is recognized in the 1978 Spanish Constitution and therefore enjoys maximum legal protection).
2. nonprofit associations only if recognized as such by the Government (asociaciones declaradas de utilidad pública). In 2002 only 1,135 out of a total of 268,826 associations had been declared “de utilidad pública” (Ruiz Olabuénaga 2006).
3. NGOs for Development.
4. Sports federations.
5. Federations and Associations of nonprofits.
6. Special entities (entidades singulares) i.e. the Spanish National Blind Organization (Organización Nacional de Ciegos or ONCE), the Spanish Red Cross (Cruz Roja Española) and Cáritas (Catholic Church-tied).
The nonprofit sector approach, utilized by Lester Salamon’s pioneer Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (Salamon and Anheier 1998, 1999; Ruiz Olabuénaga 2000), refers to organized, private, self-governing, non-profit-distributing and voluntary organizations. It excludes religious institutions, and most cooperatives and mutuals. In practice, it includes all foundations and associations, the three special entities mentioned above, a select minority of cooperatives and mutuals, educational centres, sports clubs, hospitals and savings banks with their “obra social”.
The social economy approach, originated by the CIRIEC, has been utilized by the ambitious study on La Economía Social en España, directed by Professor García Delgado between 2001 and 2004 with the support of Fundación ONCE. This approach extends to all types of nonprofit organizations serving households, plus certain additional categories:
·  all cooperatives, mutuals and associations.
·  foundations, although only recently.
·  the three special entities (ONCE, Cruz Roja, Cáritas)
·  savings banks as a whole, including their “obra social”.
·  “sociedades laborales”, special employment centers, and insertion firms or “empresas de inserción” created to employ disabled people.
Were this extended approach taken to the limit, even trade unions, political parties, professional and managerial organizations such as the “colegios profesionales”, and religious institutions could be considered to some extent to be part of the Third Sector.
Data sources and descriptive statistics for household donations in Spain
Secondary sources: estimating the Third Sector and philanthropic giving in Spain
The first economic estimate of the Third Sector and philanthropic giving in Spain was made by a team directed by Prof. Ruiz Olabuénaga under the international umbrella of Lester Salamon’s Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (Salamon and Anheier 1998, 1999; Ruiz Olabuénaga 2000); therefore using the nonprofit approach. The principal data sources used were from the National Statistics Institute of Spain (Instituto Nacional de Estadística or INE), in charge of the state statistical services, in addition to data available from various government ministries and sociological surveys, both population- and organization-based. According to this study, the expenditures of the nonprofit sector in Spain in 1995 were equivalent to 4.61% of Spain’s gross domestic product; 5.87% if volunteer inputs were included. The Spanish nonprofit sector was therefore comparable to that of France, Germany or Austria. Nonprofits revenue came predominantly from fees and charges. Philanthropy came second on the revenue structure and contributed 18.8% of total revenues or, if volunteers inputs were included, up to 36.3%. Household giving, however, was not detailed from other sources (foundations, firms) of philanthropic giving.
This study was partially updated years later (Ruiz Olabuénaga 2006), showing that the expenditures of the nonprofit sector in Spain had grown to 4.7% of Spain’s gross domestic product in 2002; 6.4% if volunteering were input. A total of 7,300,000 individuals donated money to nonprofits in 2002, and the weight of philanthropy on their income structure was as follows (once again no details for household giving):
Table 2. Weight of private giving in the income structure of Spanish associations and foundations (2002)

< €100,000 / year
> €100,000 / year
Eighty-one percent of associations and 34% of foundations had total revenues under €100,000 per year. One decade later, the research team directed by Dr. Salamon is trying to secure the implementation of the UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the National Accounting System of Spain, starting with the creation of a satellite account for the nonprofit sector.
The second economic estimate of the Third Sector and philanthropic giving in Spain was made by a team led by Prof. García Delgado utilizing a social economy approach (García Delgado 2004; Jiménez 2005). This study updated the weight of the Third Sector, including volunteering, to 5.6% of total gross operating surplus (excedente bruto de explotación) in 2001; 8.2% if savings banks were taken into account. Utilizing the Encuesta a Directivos de las entidades, FONCE-2001 as source, philanthropy was quantified at 9.7% of total income of associations and foundations.
A pioneering monographic study about philanthropy in Spain has been undertaken by a team lead by Prof. Pérez Díaz (Pérez Díaz ed. 2008). This study includes a quantitative analysis of private giving in Spain (Sánchez Pérez 2008) with data from the Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria) and the Center for Sociological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas or CIS); and a specific analysis for high-income individuals based on a 2007 monographic survey (Chuliá y Muñoz Comet 2008). This latter survey explores ideas and perceptions about philanthropy among members of boards of directors of listed companies. With a 7% response rate, the survey includes some interesting results:
· 94% of respondents believe philanthropy is little or scarcely developed in Spain and 66% believe it is underdeveloped relative to comparable countries in Europe.
· 56% of respondents believe big philanthropic donations benefit few or very few people.
· 82% think those beneficiaries lack adequate knowledge about donors.
· 89% think neither public opinion/society in general nor politicians value philanthropic activities adequately.
· 80% believe a change in the tax incentives would translate into a significant increase in philanthropic donations.
· 90% agree it is important to educate children in the value of philanthropy.
· 79% participate in the board of a foundation or philanthropic organization, but 47% do not regularly dedicate time to philanthropic activities.
Primary sources: surveys, available statistics and annual reports
The Center for Sociological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas or CIS) is an entity under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Presidency which was established to study Spanish society, mainly through public opinion polls. The CIS does not conduct any specific survey on household charitable giving. Some of its past “Barometers” (e.g. 2000, 2001) and publications have touched on citizens and social participation through all types of associations and political parties (Montero et al. 2006), on the connection between NGOs for Development, politics and the media (Jerez et al. 2008), on the public image of the Third Sector and attitudes and behaviours regarding volunteering (De la Torre Prados 2005), or on partial aspects of the associative movement (Ayuso 2007). Neither systematic nor monographic surveys touching on the attitudes and behaviours of individuals regarding philanthropy and nonprofits have been performed by the CIS.
The 2006 CIS study on citizens and social participation, however, contains interesting data on household donations relative to the self-declared socio-economic status of donors (not to their income level) and to some other socio-demographics (Sánchez Pérez 2008). 51.9% of “technical and intermediate positions” declare to have either donated or fundraised for public good causes during the last twelve months, followed by “office and services workers” (33.3%), “managers and professionals” (32.8%), “small entrepreneurs” (30.7%), “students” (24.5%), “qualified blue-collar workers” (24.4%), and “non-qualified blue-collar workers” (23.9%), among other categories. “Farmers” would be the socio-economic group with the smallest propensity to give/fundraise (only 14%). Those pertaining to upper and medium classes would show a higher propensity to give/fundraise (over 30% on average), compared to workers (around or below 20%). According to the same study, more than 35% of individuals between 35 and 44 years old and more than 30% of individuals between 45 and 54 years old would have either donated or fundraised, while percentages for younger and elderly people would be around or below 25%.
The Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria) provides the most valuable and updated data about household giving among those available. Sánchez Pérez (2008) analyses them for the 2005 fiscal year campaign of the “Tax on Individual Income”, concluding that private giving in Spain if not an exclusive territory of wealthy individuals:
· 1,794,516 taxpayers (10.5% over total) declared to have donated.
· Declared donations totalled €330,000,000, i.e. an average of €184 per donor.
· Both the percentage of taxpayers declaring donations and the amount donated were directly proportional to income. This relationship between income and amount donated, however, did not hold for taxpayers declaring annual income below €1,500.
· In absolute terms, taxpayers declaring the highest annual income were the most generous, both regarding donors percentage over total and average donations. In relative terms, however, their donations amounted to 0.29% of their income, while the medium-income segments were the most generous with donations amounting to 0.44% of their income.
The National Statistics Institute or INE has been producing the Household Budget Continuous Survey (Encuesta Continua de Presupuestos Familiares) since 1985, and this provides quarterly and annual information on the origin and amount of household incomes, and the way they are used in several consumption expenditures. Its questionnaires request information about goods and services purchased for final consumption, self-consumption, self-supply, wage in kind and free and semi-free consumption; however, they do not include any questions about household charitable giving since 1992.
The amount of household giving indirectly raised under the 0.7% of the Tax on Individual Income ruling (0.52 % until fiscal year 2006) is published every year. This differential subsidization mechanism allows individuals to voluntarily devote 0.7% of their total tax liability (“cuota íntegra”) to charitable purposes. In their tax statement, taxpayers can choose to devote that amount to either the Catholic Church (“Iglesia”), to NGOs active in social action and cooperation (“fines sociales”), to match it and share it among the two with no additional cost (0.7% + 0.7%), or to mark neither of the two options, thus leaving the amount to the State for general purposes. The Ministry of Education, Social Policies and Sports (formerly the Ministry of Work) administers 80% of the funds raised for “fines sociales”, distributing them through an annual open contest among social action NGOs; the Ministry of International Affairs does the same with the other 20% among NGOs for Development. The Law of the State General Budgets can put a limit on the amount finally devoted to these calls for subsidies.
According to the Plataforma de ONG de Acción Social and for the fiscal year of 2005, 22% of 17,105,088 taxpayers specified Catholic Church only, 33.83% specified “fines sociales” only, 11.36% specified both options, and 32.81% specified none. This means an increase of almost 1 million in the number of taxpayers that specified the “fines socials” option between 2002 and 2005. The figure indirectly raised for NGOs through this tax designation scheme has almost tripled between fiscal year 1999 and fiscal year 2006 (vid. Fig. 2.10.1).
The 0.7% new ruling has been first implemented for fiscal year 2007, resulting in an unprecedented increase from €168,000,000 raised in the previous campaign, to €240,000,000. This increase of over 40% is to be attributed not only to the increase in the percentage over total tax liability (from 0.52% to 0.7%), but also to the publicity campaign carried out by the Plataforma de ONG de Acción Social in 2008 to explain this tax designation scheme to taxpayers.
Another primary source to be taken into account consists of annual reports by the most important nonprofits and their coordinating boards. In its 2006
Fig. 2.10.1 Funds raised for NGOs through the 0.52% “Tax on Individual Income” (IRPF) differential subsidization mechanism (in euros for a given fiscal year) report, the Spanish Coordinator of NGOs for Development (Coordinadora de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales para el Desarrollo de España or CONDGE) included data relative to private donations received by its over 100 member organizations for international cooperation programs. These organizations include big NGOs such as Ayuda en Acción, UNICEF, Intermón Oxfam, the Catholic Manos Unidas or Médicos del Mundo, and special entities such as Cáritas Española or Cruz Roja Española. According to this report, direct household donations amounted to €135,462,305 in 2005, meaning 25% of total income. Household donations increased 47% relative to 2004, this variation being closely connected to emergency campaigns undertaken on the occasion of the South East Asia tsunami. Eight NGOs absorbed more than 90% of the 2005 household donations figure, Manos Unidas being the top beneficiary. By contrast, membership fees and other recurrent quotas paid for by individuals (e.g. for godfathering children) amounted to €90,210,000 in 2005. A total of 20,296 people volunteered their time to these NGOs. Forty-one percent devoted 2-4 hours per week, 36% devoted 4-10 hours per week, and 23% devoted more than 10 hours.
Although some of the most relevant CONGDE member organizations are active in other areas, all data in this report refer exclusively to their international development and cooperation projects. If all their activities were taken into account, total income would double and household donation figures would grow accordingly. A good example would be the Spanish Red Cross, whose total income for 2004 amounted to €373,442,285. Total household donations amounted to slightly over 9% of total income, with approximately €23,000,000 being raised through the “Gran Premio del Oro”, the National Lottery and other raffles, and €12,000,000 through emergency campaigns. International cooperation, however, amounted only to €39,000,000, equivalent to 11% of its total expenditures for the year. Cáritas, the confederation coordinating charitable organizations belonging to the Catholic Church in Spain, is another relevant example. Household donations accounted for 61.7 % of its 2005 total income. With total expenditures of €170,000,000 during that year, €23,000,000 were devoted to international cooperation.
The Plataforma de ONG de Acción Social groups 25 member organizations including special entities such as ONCE, Cáritas and Cruz Roja Española, NGOs for Development such as Medicos del Mundo, and relevant social action NGOs such as the Spanish Association against Cancer (Asociación Española contra el Cáncer or AECC), which attract a considerable volume of household donations. As far as we know, the Platform does not publish aggregated economic data about its members, unlike the CONGDE, and annual reports of each member organization do not always separate household donations from other philanthropic income. One example would be the ONCE, with total income for 2007 amounting to €2,813,102,000, but no details concerning the portion originating from household donations through the different lotteries and gambling managed by this nonprofit corporation. Another example would be the AECC, whose total income for 2007, according its annual report, amounted to €47,773,580. Of this amount, €23,598,823 came from household donations, including lotteries, collections, direct donations and bequests.
To conclude, the following strong points of these primary data sources and descriptive statistics could be mentioned:
· The Spanish Tax Agency provides accurate and yearly updated data on direct individual donations as declared under the Tax on Individual Income. These data are aggregated for segments of income. Differential subsidization through the 0.7% of the Individual Income Tax also provides accurate, annually updated, and aggregated data on indirect household giving.
· The majority of household giving concentrates on special entities such as the Spanish Red Cross, ONCE or Cáritas, or on big NGOs such as Manos Unidas, AECC, UNICEF, Ayuda en Acción or Intermón Oxfam. These organizations include information on donations received in their annual reports, and sometimes separate data on household giving from other income sources.
Weak points would include:
· There is an urgent need to combine data from the Spanish Tax Agency with socio-demographic data on individual and household donor units, which could be gathered at a little incremental cost through both the National Statistics Institute Household Budget Continuous Survey (Encuesta Continua de Presupuestos Familiares), and the Center for Sociological Research “barometers” and other surveys.
· The Spanish National Accounting System does not include any specific account for either social economy or Third Sector organizations, or for household charitable giving. All approaches to aggregate charitable giving based on available statistics are therefore partial and/or indirect estimates (e.g. volunteering, weight of domestic giving over total income of nonprofits), and most sources do not separate private household giving from private corporate and institutional giving.
· Duplicities may occur. A typical example are intra-sector donations, i.e. household donations to intermediary charitable organizations which then refund to other nonprofits. Data on household giving to foundations or to associations may overlap with data on household giving to NGOs for Development, as 44% of these nonprofits choose the legal formula of association to incorporate and 36% choose the foundation formula. Giving to the Spanish Red Cross international cooperation projects may be accounted for twice if data from its annual statement are added to the CONGDE data.
· Neither all-inclusive nor partial household giving surveys are carried out on an annual basis. Both longitudinal and transversal comparisons incorporating socio-demographic data on donors are therefore difficult or even impossible to make.
Spain urgently needs to improve its data gathering and research capacity regarding philanthropy in general and household charitable giving in particular. The notorious growth and strengthening of Spanish civil society since the transition to Democracy, be it measured in terms of social economy or Third Sector activity, or in terms of changing social attitudes and philanthropic giving, demands that household giving be researched and mapped accordingly.
Official surveys and statistics do not pay attention to household giving, thus necessarily limiting its presence in excellent secondary sources such as the comprehensive research projects directed by Ruiz Olabuénaga or García Delgado; the exception being the monographic study carried out by the team lead by Pérez Díaz about private giving. These studies are not repeated periodically, which would undoubtedly require both strong economic and political support, nor do they always separate household giving from corporate and institutional giving, presenting “philanthropic income” or “philanthropic donations” as a whole. Regarding primary sources, the lack of socio-demographic data on donors and/or comparable time series on donor attitudes, profiles and donations reinforces this trend. In relative terms, private corporate and institutional giving, and particularly philanthropy from foundations and listed or big firms, has received much more attention than household giving (Projecció 2003, Fundación Luis Vives 2004).
Support from the INE and the CIS is essential for advancing both population-based and organization-based economic approaches to household giving, and also for complementing data disclosed by the Spanish Tax Agency on declared individual donations. Furthermore, an organization-based economic approach would require, on the first place, strong coordination among state and autonomous administrations relative to public register data, and also among different nonprofit platforms and networks (Spanish Association of Foundations or AEF, CONGDE, Plataforma de ONG de Acción Social, etc.). Secondly, a clear transparency policy relative to donation data disclosure in annual reports, aligned with the efforts already made in this direction by CONGDE members and other relevant Spanish nonprofits, would be also needed.
The lack of visibility of household giving in Spain is mainly a consequence of the relative absence of the Spanish Third Sector in terms of official statistics and surveys. As long as the macro magnitudes of the Third Sector are not gathered in the National Accounting System as a separate, relevant and new sector of the economy; and until the activity of nonprofit organizations is evaluated with adequate criteria which put a value on specificities such as volunteer inputs and positive externalities (i.e. the effect of nonprofit activities on social welfare and integration, educational and cultural development or territorial equilibrium), the Third Sector will remain in a shadow zone and household giving will be underestimated.

Source: Wiepking, P. (Ed.) The State of Giving Research in Europe. Household donations to Charitable Organizations in Twelve Countries. Pallas Publications: Amsterdam, the Netherlands. order here.


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