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Old Foundations or New Venture Funds?

There is an interesting article from the recent copy of the European Venture Philanthropy Association newsletter (the Ryan Academy is an associate member) on the case of an old Foundation setting up a venture philanthropy fund within itself. In it they talk to Beniot Fontaine who is the secretary of the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF). This Foundation was set up in 1976 and is a big player in the grant giving arena in Belgium. KBF have an annual budget of over 30 million and supports over 1,300 projects in many different areas such as health and migration.

Three years ago the CEO Luc Tayart started to look at creating a venture fund within the current Foundation. From the article it was obvious there was some scepticism about setting up one of these ‘new’ venture funds, and how it would tie in with the values of the KBF and the sector as a whole. It is not unusual I would think for some of the older Foundations to feel this way. After all the social venture sector often portrays itself in a way that one would think funding options didn’t exist before social venture philanthropy existed.

It seems that the Foundation took its time and consulted with staff and stakeholder before taking the plunge. Over a million euro has been ‘freed up’ for a three-year project to set up a fund. This is a good way to start, by experimenting (as we have talked about before, there isn’t enough ‘testing’ of new ideas in the sector as a whole).  They have just come through their first six months test phase and it will be interesting to see if this experiment is a success. It may lead the way for other traditional Foundations to follow a similar route.

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