It’s frustrating, living in Europe (no, this is not going to be a piece about Mr Cameron and his referendum…)
It’s frustrating because we have so little data on philanthropy. Everywhere I look there is data on philanthropy in the USA, and a stream of clever academic research papers from across the Atlantic on who is giving, why they are giving and what they are giving.
But Europe? Yes, there are some very good centres of research, but there are not nearly enough of them.
This morning I checked the listings for academic centres of research into philanthropy, at the International Society for Third Sector Research. The results? Of the 153 academic centres of research identified by ISTR, 53 are in just one country. Yes,the USA. The next nearest country by volume of research centres is the UK, with just 11. Counting all of the centres across Europe, we still come to a smaller total than the USA with 36 centres against their 53.
Here are the (approximately) 50 countries of Europe:
And here is the single United States of America:
Quantity is not the same as quality, and Europe’s research centres produce a lot of very useful and valuable data. But we are being held back in our understanding of philanthropy in Europe because we have not built the academic power-houses that our colleagues in the US have created. This is a source of bias in our research – with all that wealth of data from the USA the models from across the Atlantic have become the norm. In Europe this has led a few people – notably in France – to look for new paradigms, different models, in philanthropy research. Good news, if we are to build a balanced, culturally-sensitive, understanding of philanthropy.