Fondation Philanthropia celebrates its 10th anniversary

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Fondation Philanthropia celebrates its 10th anniversary

The 10th anniversary of Fondation Philanthropia raises the benefit of ‘sheltered funds’: a modern concept that favours collaborative, innovative and enlightened generosity and that increases the impact of each donation tenfold. They are democratizing access to philanthropy.

By 2050, $59 trillion1 of wealth is expected to be passed on to the next generation. It is estimated that the next generation of donors will have between $20,000 billion and $30,000 billion to distribute to charities. This new generation thinks differently and considers new ways to engage. Far from being limited to non-profit organizations, young patrons do not exclude subsidizing individuals or for-profit companies that address the societal challenges that affect them, and they explore solutions to achieve this. In this context, how is the world of philanthropy adapting and how can we contribute to this evolution?

Fondation Philanthropia was created in 2008 in Geneva by the Bank Lombard Odier & Co to respond to this trend. After its first ten years of activity, Fondation Philanthropia records very satisfactory outcomes, having received CHF 116 million in donations and having made CHF 59 million of grants to about 100 organizations.

"We redistribute on average 10% of our capital each year," says Denis Pittet, President of the Board of Trustees. "This is a much higher rate than is common, because we believe that, in many areas, it is better to act decidedly today rather than tomorrow. When it comes to cancer or the environment for example, we must act now!”


Effective solutions to address the challenges of philanthropy

When it was created, Fondation Philanthropia was designed as an umbrella foundation. Within this structure, the donor can create his own personal space - or ‘sheltered fund’ - that offers similar functionalities to an autonomous foundation while benefiting from the economies of scale of the umbrella structure.

Fondation Philanthropia provides all the administrative, accounting and legal follow-up, so that the donor can devote most of his energy  to his  philanthropic passion and to the management of his project. Fondation Philanthropia also has access to the dedicated philanthropy advisory team of Lombard Odier, its legal and tax expertise, the services of its communication team, and its 222-year-old experience in asset allocation and wealth management.

Since its creation, 25 funds have been opened by Fondation Philanthropia. Donors can establish tailor-made funds and partner with other donors to support projects that could not materialize without this cost sharing. In this way, they break the isolation that too often characterizes autonomous foundations, share best practices and learn together. The impact of each donation is thus multiplied tenfold.


Realize the philanthropic ambitions of patrons regardless of their passion

"Umbrella foundations are still underutilized today when they are a true philanthropic toolbox, which is especially rewarding for those embarking on philanthropy for the first time," explains Luc Giraud-Guigues, the foundation's general secretary.

Whether through its thematic funds (humanitarian and social action, medical and scientific research, education and training, art and culture, environment and sustainable development) or its personalized funds, Fondation Philanthropia has supported or is supporting very ambitious projects, such as the emergence of a new generation of researchers against cancer in partnership with the European centre Gustave Roussy, support for people suffering from Parkinson's disease, the renovation of the Royal Chapel in Versailles or the protection of the oceans.


Together against cancer: bringing innovation to the fore

A member of Swissfoundations and a partner of prestigious peers such as Fondation de France and King Baudouin Foundation, Fondation Philanthropia has, for the past 10 years, made a significant contribution to the fight against cancer in Switzerland and abroad (France, United Kingdom, Central America, West Africa). To date, more than CHF 15 million has been spent on prevention, research and care in this area.

"To solve complex problems, philanthropists see the need for innovation. The flexibility of this umbrella structure allows the freedom to test new ideas, direct donations towards emerging areas, raise funds or meet with peers to pool resources in order to support large joint projects," explains Dr. Maximilian Martin, member of the Board of Trustees and Global Head of Philanthropy within the Lombard Odier Group.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Fondation Philanthropia is bringing together a panel of Swiss and international experts in Geneva this week to discuss best practices for becoming a high-impact philanthropist. This event is an opportunity to discuss the protection of the oceans, the best way to take advantage of advances in medical research and to look forward to 2028 to imagine the benefits of genetic research and the control of the human genome. These are all topics on which the gifts of tomorrow’s philanthropy are focused.

1 The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, A Golden Age of Philanthropy Still Beckons: National Wealth Transfer and Potential for Philanthropy Technical Report, May 28, 2014

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