Philanthropy in CEE 2020

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have made significant progress in economic and social development using their potential that remained deeply hidden for decades. Although it is something to be proud of, the countries of CEE are still facing immense social challenges – national, regional, and global in scope.

“Philanthropy in CEE 2020” – a study conducted by Social Impact Alliance for Central & Eastern Europe and Kantar in May 2020, with previously unavailable scope and focus, estimated the philanthropic potential of the region among individual donors. It amounts to EUR 3.3 billion, with approx. EUR 2 billion already donated today. It is interesting to look at other expenses at the largest of the studied markets, Poland. According to Nielsen 2019, Poles spent EUR 8 billion on alcohol and over EUR 3.5 billion on sweet and salty snacks.

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CEE philanthropic donations are still far from the scale of giving, seen in the most philanthropically mature markets in the world, like the USA, where, according to “Giving USA 2020”, individual donors devote EUR 276.5 billion (USD 309.66 billion) to philanthropic purposes.* Even after adjusting the data for population size (the surveyed market has only one-fifth of the US population), CEE citizens are currently giving at the level of 3.7% of the amounts donated by Americans.



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It turns out that a similar percentage of men and women are involved in philanthropic activities, but the forms of support they choose are different. Men more frequently make regular donations and the average value of their contributions is 40% higher. Women are much more willing to choose alternative forms of support. They purchase products and services with part of the profit transferred to social purpose organizations, and their activity is affected by posts and fundraising campaigns on Facebook.

Volunteering is still a less popular form of support compared to financial donations, but it is already noticeable – with approx. one third of CEE citizens currently involved. Volunteering is most popular among young people, up to the age of 30 (38%), which suggests that in the future this form of support may further gain in importance. 14% of CEE citizens indicated that their employer allows them to volunteer during working hours. Among those who do not have this option, nearly 4 out of 10 employees are expecting it and would like to devote 2-3 hours a month to this purpose. Society also has high expectations regarding tax incentives for volunteering – two out of three respondents (62%) expect them.

Even though tax incentives on financial donations constitute a significant value and create an attractive incentive for donors, they are not very popular among CEE citizens. Less than half of the citizens in the region have even heard about it. What is more, being aware of tax incentives is not reflected in their actual use. Society currently believes that the level at which the existing tax incentive system actively encourages giving is low.

CEE citizens have high expectations of businesses. As many as two-thirds expect companies to become increasingly involved in socially responsible initiatives (66%). The fact that 44% of the region’s citizens state that they are willing to pay more for products of socially responsible brands, while 36% consider CSR activities of companies as an incentive to purchase their products or services, may become an important stimulus for corporate donors.

According to CEE citizens, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be supported primarily by the public administration. However, when asked about who is actually supporting them, the respondents significantly less frequently pointed to governments, at the same time appreciating the role of social organizations, business, and individual donors. They consider the goals related to social well-being to be the most important and more frequently support them (both financially and by volunteering). Furthermore, the region overall considers the areas related to inequalities and development of societies to be of secondary importance.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis helped CEE citizens realize the importance of their philanthropic involvement in society. 36% of CEE citizens confirmed that the pandemic changed their attitudes in relation to philanthropy. For approximately 15% it was a breakthrough moment to start giving, which they had never done before. Stimulating and maintaining their involvement should be a key goal guiding the public administration and social organizations. The social solidarity built during the pandemic can be a valuable basis for further action. On how to do that – please read the “Key recommendations” section in a report.


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