The golden age of philanthropy: the salvation for the cultural sector

Prof. Sigrid Hemels, professor of Tax Law at Erasmus School of Law, collaborated with Prof. Sylvester Eijffinger (Tilburg University) and Prof. Theo Schuyt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) to write an article about the role of philanthropy in the preservation of the Dutch economy during the corona crisis. The article was published in the Volkskrant on the 10th of May.

Prof. Hemels, Prof. Eijffinger and Prof. Schuyt call it the golden age of philanthropy. The crisis has shown that there is a lot of money available outside of the government: money with a social purpose.

Dutch philanthropic pride
The crisis shows a policy that is very uncommon in the Netherlands: a situation in which organisations rely on the government for funding. However, the social philanthropic initiative has also been shown to be helpful. This is noticeable in the expressions of solidarity towards caregivers, elderly and small businesses, but also initiatives set up to raise money. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Netherlands is among the top of all international rankings regarding willingness to volunteer and donate.

Philanthropy in times of crisis
In order to reconcile the philanthropic social initiative with the current crisis, Prof. Hemels, Prof. Eijffinger and Prof. Schuyt have made some extraordinary proposals. Firstly, they propose that the inheritance of approximately eight percent of households that support charity in their will can be used in advance. In this way, the inheritance can be used when it is most needed. The professors also propose to take shares in a hospital, museum, neighbourhood library or school institution. This is a possibility to invest in the security of these social institutions. Scientific investing is another option, by investing in medical research, educational research or other research that is socially relevant. Lastly, the professors propose to help local cultural-, health- or educational institutions by means of a bridge loan.

Not only the organisations in the social- and cultural sector are in need of help; now, non-profit organisations are also almost entirely dependent on government funding. That is why Prof. Hemels, Prof. Eijffinger and Prof. Schuyt state: “It is time to integrate philanthropy as a social force in the welfare state. This can be realized through political- and policy recognition of citizens’ initiatives and social involvement.