Coping with the crisis: how European donor associations fared

How were donor and foundation associations in Europe affected by the financial crisis and how did they respond? To find out, in summer 2009, Donors Associations and Foundations in Europe (DAFNE) began to collect information on the impact of the financial crisis on its members.

Almost all of them had undertaken special efforts to support their members – workshops, publications and newsletters, and extraordinary (members only) conferences. One association hired a new staff person specifically to deal with members’ crisis-related requests. Another, the Association of German Foundations, developed a campaign with a slogan ‘With us – to survive in crises’ and started recruiting new members aggressively – with results that will be seen below. In addition, more than half had conducted their own research and produced special reports on the crisis and its potential effect on the foundation sector in their country.

Most of the associations, however, said they had lost or were likely to lose members. Fifty per cent said that had already seen a drop in membership and 70 per cent said that it had become more difficult to collect membership dues.

DAFNE’s winter meeting in Madrid gave members the opportunity to compare the effectiveness of counter-measures taken. The vast majority of those who invested time in communication, both with their membership and with other interested parties (authorities, media, general public), felt the effects of the crisis less sharply than those who focused on their members only. The most striking case was that of the German association, which promoted itself as the only safe space for foundations and provided professional expertise and consultations to members, resulting in growth of more than 150 new members by the end of the year.

DAFNE is continuing to gather information on how its members are dealing with the crisis. The next round of data will be ready for the next DAFNE meeting and will also be presented at the EFC annual conference in June.

For more information

Contact DAFNE chair Rosa Gallego at

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