State-controlled Spanish foundations ‘cannot invest in business’?

Professor Barbacid ‘halts research into lung cancer treatment’

That was the headline in El País, 4th May 2011. Professor Barbacid is one of the leading cancer researchers in the world, brought back to Spain from the USA with the promise of a substantial research centre, and funding.

He is Director of the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO, where he and his team have discovered that a specific cell protein could be used as the target for drug treatments for lung cancer. The results were published in Cancer Cell, April 2011. The next step, of course, is to develop the drug treatments.

Prof Barbacid proposed the creation of an entity that combined commercial and foundation interests, in order to attract the €10m he estimates that is required to develop a pharmaceutical treatment based on this latest discovery.

But the Ministry of Science and Innovation has told him, according to El País, that:

a state-controlled foundation cannot establish agreements which would imply its participation in a [profit-making] company.

This is, plainly, rubbish. A number of other state-controlled foundations – ranging from Spain’s largest museum, El Prado, to Spain’s universities – have shares in businesses.

Worse, it’s a brake on the development of different, new financial models for foundations in Spain. Spain desperately needs to renovate its foundation sector – and may do so soon, with a proposal to split savings banks into bank + foundation – but this type of bureaucratic intervention simply slows that process down.

Festival del Fundraising, Italy, 12-14 May 2010

Chris Carnie will be leading a workshop for experienced fundraisers at the Festival of Fundraising, Italy, in Castrocaro Terme (northern Italy), on Thursday 13th May. Chris will be talking about cultures of giving in Southern Europe, and making a comparison with Northern Europe. As a Scotsman living in Catalunya he feels qualified to do so…

For more information on the Festival and on Chris’ session, click here.

CASE Europe 09

Chris Carnie spoke at this year’s CASE Europe conference, in Liverpool, 24-28 August 2009. He presented research on new forms of philanthropy in Europe in “Money, Minds and Motives,” a joint session with Marie-Stéphane Maradeix, Campaign Director of the École Polytechnique. He presented an introduction to prospect research – “Find the Funds, Intelligently” – stressing the growing role of prospect researchers in knowledge management. Both presentations are available for download. Click the presentation name to download a pdf version.

Cross-border giving, and a new tax ruling

There is good news for donors who want to make gifts across borders in the EU. The European Court of Justice, in a judgement dated 27th January 2009 has found in favour of a German citizen who wanted to make a gift to a Portuguese charity. Mr Hein Persche wanted to make a gift in kind valued at about €18,180, to the Centro Popular da Lagoa, in Portugal (a retirement home to which a children’s home is attached). The Finanzamt (District Tax Office) refused the deduction sought on the grounds that the beneficiary of the gift was not established in Germany and that Mr Persche had not provided a donation certificate in proper form.

The Court ruled that such gifts come within the compass of the Treaty provisions on the free movement of capital, even if they are made in kind in the form of everyday consumer goods. The free movement of capital precludes legislation of a Member State by virtue of which, as regards gifts made to bodies recognised as having charitable status, the benefit of a deduction for tax purposes is allowed only in respect of gifts made to bodies established in that Member State.

The ruling means that if the German government, and presumably other national governments, do not change their national laws, the European Commission could bring an action for breach of Community law and, eventually, that Germany could be fined for this breach.

For the press release on the ruling, click here.
For the original ruling, click here
For the European Court of Justice home page click here.
For contact details of the Centre Popular da Lagoa, click here.

This is an important ruling for all philanthropists who wish to give cross-border, and for fundraising organisations who are working with donors outside their own country.