RSM professor contributes to new book on the role of philanthropy in giving back to society

A new book Philanthropy in the Netherlands, which made its debut at a congress for socially responsible entrepreneurship in June, has two chapters written by Professor Lucas Meijs of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); one is also in co-operation with Michiel de Wilde, Executive Director of the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The chapters, Volunteer Energy and Non-grantseeking Foundations as Sources of Funding for Public-interest Objectives were presented at the congress hosted by SMO, the Business and Society Foundation in the Netherlands. The congress was attended by more than 200 representatives of volunteer organisations, civic initiatives, local governments, companies and non-grantseeking foundations, who came together to discuss how to bring about better co-operation in tackling society’s problems.

The book describes the current state of philanthropy as related to giving back to society in terms of time and money, as well as the need for more equitable forms of co-operation between civil society organisations, government and companies to achieve public-interest objectives. Prof. Lucas Meijs has researched the role of volunteers extensively, and explains the business relevance of his findings in a recent video for RSM Discovery.

Michiel de Wilde of the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP) said that foundations are a small yet increasingly important part of civil society as governments withdraw subsidies. As self-reliant and privately run organisations, they are particularly well-positioned to play an exploratory and initiating role in finding solutions to society’s problems. Although there are still many traditionally operating ‘giving funds’, the world of non-grantseeking foundations is very much in flux. Particularly large and new foundations aim to have a distinguishable impact on society, are interested in innovative and sustainable solutions and want to collaborate and learn as partners. That makes foundations important potential partners – also within the interplay of forces between powerful government and multi-opinioned civil society.

Michiel C. de Wilde, Executive Director at Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy presenting the new book ‘Philanthropy in the Netherlands’Civil society organisations need to put themselves in the shoes of foundations so they can understand their objectives and working methods. ECSP was asked to draw up a general and introductory profile of non-grantseeking foundations, the thinking being that smaller civil society organisations are still finding it difficult to gain access to and make contact with these possibly very interesting partners.

The chapter written by De Wilde and Meijs reflects the enhanced position and high profile of ECSP as a preeminent and independent knowledge and learning centre, with the mission to support, stimulate and challenge foundations in realising their full potential for societal benefit.

ECSP is currently working on a new programme of activities focusing on the issues relevant to foundations. Within that context, the centre carries out research centred on real-life practice; develops training programmes, offers complementary advisory services and organises networking events.

ECSP strives to increasingly serve as a bridge between practice and science, and to evolve into a ‘philanthropy learning lab’ where academics can meet board members,  directors and senior staff members of foundations, with all learning from each other. It will support and help shape the learning dialogue between these groups by clarifying mutual needs and interests, identifying interesting research opportunities, enriching academic thinking with experience and insights from daily practice and converting research into relevant and useful practitioner materials.

This August the ECSP will once again host the three-day international EFC/ECSP Summer Academy, for members of the European Foundation Centre, with new modules on risk management and social experiments. In addition, the ECSP will also organise its second post-graduate training course Managing Philanthropic Foundations for the 2014-2015 academic year in conjunction with the Philanthropic Studies Working Group of the VU University Amsterdam.

The book Philanthropy in the Netherlands can be previewed and ordered on the website of the Business and Society Foundation (SMO).

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked among Europe’s top 10 business schools for education and among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam - a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan.

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