With Amsterdam’s new Centre for Grantmaking Research, opportunities for study open


Pamala Wiepking


Unrestricted funding enables grantees to respond flexibly in times of crisis, helping them to build sustainable and resilient organisations, and it also enables innovation and scaling-up of existing initiatives. This is one of the key findings of my research on the perceived effects of unrestricted grant making.

This research was conducted by a team including Dr Arjen de Wit beginning January 2019, and it has led to the opening of the Center for Grantmaking Research. The new center is embedded at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and is initially funded through the generous grant from the Dutch Charity Lotteries to establish the professorship ‘The Societal Significance of Charity Lotteries’.

Some other key findings of the research include that unrestricted funding can help support the topics and beneficiaries that are less ‘popular’ – or even ‘unfundable’, in the words of one of our interviewees, otherwise known as the issues many funders will not consider supporting.

With our research we aim to contribute to a strong and nuanced evidence base for the effects of grantmaking, especially unrestricted and flexible grantmaking. Yet this does not mean exploring only the positive effects of unrestricted grantmaking – we intend to demonstrate the totality of influence of unrestricted grantmaking, including unintended consequences that could potentially limit grantees in their work. We also intend to move beyond studying the perception of grantees on the effectiveness of flexible funding.

The new Center will facilitate the co-production of research, sharing knowledge – gathered by us but also the existing grey literature, including excellent reports from consultants and foundations, and evaluation studies, and increase collaboration between stakeholders.

With opportunities for future research at the Center for Grantmaking Research, we would like to explore the longitudinal effects of (lack of) restrictions on funding for grantee effectiveness, from the perspective of different stakeholders. To do this, we will specifically study the different effects funding restrictions have in different contexts and for different types of organisations.

To learn more about the Center for Grantmaking Research join us for my inaugural lecture on 19 March where I will formally accept the professorship ‘The Societal Significance of Charity Lotteries’. If you are interested in collaborating with the Center or learning more about the effects of unrestricted funding for grantee effectiveness, get in touch at p.wiepking@vu.nl.

Join Pamala Wiepking’s inaugural lecture ‘The Societal Significance of Charity Lotteries’ on 19 March 2021 from 3.45–5.00 p.m. CET.

Dr Pamala Wiepking is the inaugural Visiting Stead Family Chair in International Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the inaugural Professor of Societal Significance of Charity Lotteries at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam, where she and Arjen de Wit have established the Center for Grantmaking Research.

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