28 October 2019

EFC releases latest version of Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum

Download the Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum publication

The EFC has published the latest version of its knowledge framework in the format of a short, illustrative guide. “The Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum − The EFC’s knowledge framework for understanding European philanthropy” takes the reader on a tour of the Spectrum, which was developed by the EFC as a way to organise and analyse its knowledge base on the European philanthropic sector.

Since its inception, the EFC has been a hub of information and knowledge on European philanthropy. This knowledge provides a solid evidence base for communicating the value and impact of philanthropy and for representing the sector – to governments, policymakers and the public. For members, the EFC Knowledge Hub serves as a resource for informing strategic decision-making and identifying peers and partners. The Institutional Philanthropy Spectrum (IPS) frames this knowledge in a way that makes it even more useful, while at the same time allowing for a deeper understanding of this diverse sector.

Taking a functional rather than legalistic approach, the Spectrum is organised around the following key aspects of institutional philanthropy:

  • Financial resources
  • Use of assets
  • Governance
  • Practices and behaviours
  • Relevance

The Spectrum breaks these aspects down further into detailed clusters to identify the unique features and practices of institutional philanthropy actors. A particular organisation’s profile across the Spectrum will reflect its position within the five layers, giving it a unique identity, but one which can be grouped and regrouped with other organisations, depending on the lens used. The Spectrum allows us to investigate and examine the landscape of philanthropy to understand how philanthropic organisations are operating at multiple levels, and to identify correlations between impact and the diversity in the field, not just at the project level but all the way up the structure and resource chain.

The IPS started in 2016 as an observatory process taking as a sample the 30 philanthropic organisations that make up the EFC’s Governing Council. Parallel to this collection of empirical data, the EFC researched similar efforts that had been done to develop theories or frameworks regarding the philanthropic sector. The overall aim was to develop a flexible framework that reflects the diversity of the European sector; that uses language that accurately expresses the characteristics of EFC members; that can be used to emphasise similarities and common ground; and that is adaptable enough to accommodate a sector that is in constant flux. This led to the IPS, an evolved, flexible framework to describe and eventually predict the behaviour of institutional philanthropy in Europe.