Nov 30, 2019

Ranking countries by how much of their GDP is held by philanthropies

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Reproduced from the Harvard Kennedy School's Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Center for Public Leadership; Paula D. Johnson, et. al, 2018, "Global Philanthropy Report." Chart: Axios Visuals

In proportion to its GDP, the Netherlands has more wealth in charitable foundations than any other nation in the world, according to The Global Philanthropy Report by the Harvard Kennedy School; Switzerland is #2.

By the numbers: Overall, U.S. philanthropies are the wealthiest, with $890 billion in assets. But as a share of GDP, the Netherlands and Switzerland each have substantially more invested in charities than the U.S. or anywhere else.

  • On average, U.S. foundations spend a greater share of their assets than either Switzerland or the Netherlands — 9%, according to the report. This "spend rate" highlights the share of foundations' money that has the potential of making more immediate social impacts.
  • American charitable foundations spend a lower percentage of their wealth than foundations in countries like Spain and France, which on average spend about a third of their philanthropic assets on their social programs, grants, administrative costs and supporting third parties.

Our thought bubble, per Axios’ Felix Salmon: In countries like Canada and Ireland that have robust social safety nets, the need for permanent philanthropic capital is lower — which could be why foundations in those nations have less in assets.

The big picture: The study found that philanthropy is on the rise around the world, thanks in part to global economic growth. And more than 90% of charitable spending worldwide comes from European and U.S. foundations.

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  • But with Michael Bloomberg we can simply look to his philanthropies —which have given away some $8 billion — to get a good idea of his priorities.
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