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Who is shaping the charity sector?

by News Room
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As Director of the Philanthropy Platform DDB, I recently participated in an international panel via Zoom on the future of philanthropic media. The organizer was Alliance Magazine. Other panelists, in addition to Alliance editor-in-chief Charles Keidan, were affiliated with media outlets as diverse as “Inside Philanthropy” and “Philanthropy Age.” The provocative questions led to a lively and fundamental online discussion. Things can and should be improved, as it quickly became clear.

Everyone agreed on one thing: being a credible philanthropic vehicle has a role to play a critical friend is crucial. Even if the media is financially supported by one or more of the industry’s own funds or external entities, such as private banks. This means reporting objectively and neutrally, not judging everything inappropriately, but calling the animal by its name when necessary, because do-gooders are also people who sometimes do unwise things.

An interesting question during the session was who has the most potential to shape the charity sector. In the Dutch situation, these are certainly supervisors and managers of private equity funds. By operating in the shadows, they can collect large sums of money at their discretion. In the Netherlands, this applies to more than 365 FIN-affiliated capital funds and business foundations. There’s more.


It is understandable and logical that the management of Dutch funds is exhaustively concerned internally with such things as reducing donations, maintaining connections with politicians in The Hague (especially after the election year 2023), limiting administrative burdens, and last but not least the desired self-regulatory system, which means that state control is not a part of private equity funds. considered necessary.

Externally, it would benefit private equity funds – especially larger ones – if they were more open about their agendas and goals. This is not a new sound, but it sometimes seems to fall on deaf ears. Funds could be more transparent about the origin of their funds and how they use their resources. And therefore also about the effect they aim for. Not an unreasonable wish for a billion dollar business.

Providing solutions

In the ideal philanthropic world, long-term thinking prevails. Capital funds generously support basic research, research driven by curiosity, freedom and imagination. Ultimately, this type of research creates a proven and necessary foundation for the development of revolutionary technologies that support the economy, transform society, and provide solutions to numerous societal problems.

It Leitmotif known: charity is an inseparable part civil society. This civil society is the third force next to the government and the market. Charitable foundations – both those that provide money and those that raise money – can often pick up on issues that government and/or markets (yet) miss. A well-functioning charity sector is a sign of civilization in times of polarization and coarsening of manners.

Public opinion

All the more reason to cherish that civil society. Especially in times when human existence shows more and more signs of business life and the Netherlands is becoming very much like a company. The trade organization Goede Doelen Nederland knows it: three forces – government, market and civil society – are jointly responsible for the proper functioning of our pluralistic democratic society.

A valuable insight, which unfortunately penetrates public opinion only to a limited extent. Philanthropy Platform DDB can contribute to this. By letting the voice of civil society echo in the polyphonic chorus of government, business and civil society. Like a climax!

Bert Koopman is editor-in-chief of Philanthropy Platform DDB, part of Amsterdam University Press.

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