How to set up a university centre with foundation money 

Georg von Schnurbein and Beate Eckhardt

Funding a university centre is a risky endeavour for all parties. Donors usually have less control over the results than in other cases and the university takes the risk that future costs will have to be covered through its own budget. The creation of the Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS) at the University of Basel offers some insights on how to create, and plan for the sustainable existence of, an institute with initial funds from foundations.

In 2007, SwissFoundations, the Swiss association of grantmaking foundations, sent a request for proposals to four Swiss universities, inviting them to apply for funding to set up a centre for foundations and philanthropy.

The idea was to create a central institution for interdisciplinary research on philanthropy that would encourage and increase both the gathering of knowledge and putting into practice. The initial grant was CHF2.5 million for five years, allowing for the financing of a professor and two assistant positions. Six foundations, all members of SwissFoundations, participated in the funding. The universities were selected on the basis of previous research and teaching activities in the field of philanthropy.

The idea was to create a central institution for interdisciplinary research on philanthropy that would encourage and increase both the gathering of knowledge and putting into practice.

 
Next Special feature to read

Studying philanthropy in Canada: from benevolence to impact 

Hilary Pearson and Jean-Marc Fontan