Foundations have been around in Europe for centuries, playing an important role in developing and strengthening our society. Today, it is estimated that there are some 110,000 foundations in Europe, collectively spending as much as the EU on projects and programmes and providing employment to up to 1 million Europeans. Foundations come in many shapes and sizes, with some offering grants while others prefer to operate their own programmes. In towns, cities, regions and countries across Europe, they can be found running or funding hospitals and universities; protecting historic buildings, promoting cultural activities, stimulating economic development and employment, supporting scientific excellence, advancing civil and human rights, engaging in environmental conservation, and much, much more… Yet despite their undeniable social and economic weight, most people would be hard pushed to name a foundation, let alone describe what a foundation does. Their absence from the public radar has much to do with a tendency among foundations to place an emphasis on their work rather than developing a high profile in the public arena.
Foundation Week is therefore a unique opportunity to learn more about the work of foundations and the many ways in which they touch the lives of European citizens. Throughout the week, visitors are invited to take some time to check out the free exhibits, demos and thought-provoking documentaries on show in the Interactive Fair. A series of open debates bring together NGOs, EU officials, foundations and members of the public to discuss shared challenges and to learn from one another’s experiences. Cultural activities including a Puccini concert and futuristic historical tour are also on offer during the week.