Philanthropy is undergoing a renewal and is evolving into a much more international phenomenon. The tools available to philanthropists, in this age of growing social and economic challenges, have never been so diverse. Neither part of the public sector, nor the private sector, its freedom endows philanthropy with an unparalleled capacity to innovate for the common good: whether it be in the fight against poverty and exclusion, or in the realm of education or health to name but a few. In many countries, a legal and fiscal incentive framework has been set up to encourage private donations. Whilst critics of philanthropy continue to make noise, there is at the same time a growing recognition of its potential and impacts.
Nevertheless, philanthropy could be more widely known and understood, particularly in France and more broadly in Europe. Several questions remain unanswered: How does the context – whether in terms of culture and history, or laws and economic conditions – influence philanthropic practices? How can we classify philanthropists? What motivates them? How should philanthropic initiatives be managed? What are the different means of philanthropic intervention? What is their impact and how can that be measured? How does philanthropy relate to the state, NGOs and private firms?
Rigourous academic research is still quite rare and the majority takes place in the United States, using American data. This research is rarely shared and discussed with practitioners. Meanwhile, practitioners seek management training and advice in order to professionalise and realise philanthropy’s potential.
ESSEC created the Philanthropy Chair in January 2011 in order to respond to those needs.