Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Philanthropy in Denmark


Magazine article

Ten Things You (Probably) Didn`t Know About Philanthropy in Denmark 

by Susanne Krogh Petersen, Norgay Institute


1.      The World Giving Index 2012 ranked Denmark seventh in the number of people who donates, with 70 per cent of Danes giving something each year. However, the cash amount given remains relatively small.

2.      The number of individual donors in Denmark is virtually non-existent. In the annual overview over charitable income undertaken by ISOBRO (a national umbrella organisation for fundraising charities in Denmark) there are no independent figures for private high-value gifts, except for the heritage sector.

3.      However, according to ISOBRO giving overall is rising. Between 2008 and 2012 charitable income increased by 22 percent. (corrected of inflation).

4.      Tax relief options for giving by individuals are limited, and only apply to giving below €2000 pa, cumulative. Unless you make a ten-year agreement to an organisation, then there are special rules – but they are still limited.


5.      Denmark did have legislation which provided favourable tax options for companies that chose a foundation based ownership model. Interestingly, all the large foundations in Denmark were founded under this legislation, where the foundation not only owns and operates the company but also undertakes charitable giving. This has contributed to the situation where many of the largest companies in Denmark are still in Danish hands instead of being bought by international equity foundations.

6.      In 2013 the A.P. Møller Foundation gave €134m (1billion Danish kroner) to support continuing education of teachers in state schools. This was Denmark’s largest charity donation towards social purposes.

7.      Foundation legislation in Denmark is limited. There are no demands for public accounts, no standards or demands for a percentage of giving, and no demands of public transparency with regard to boards and governance, or purpose of giving. However, this is changing with the introduction of new legislation expected in late 2014.

8.      Whilst the percentage of giving by foundations is rising, it remains low in comparison to other countries. In 2010 the average percent of equity for giving, for the ten largest foundations, was three percent.

9.      In Denmark, a country with 5.5 million people, there are more than 14.000 small charitable foundations.

10.  For the last three years Danish national television has presented a charity show the proceeds of which benefit international aid organisations. In 2013 saw a record 85m DKK raised. This is equivalent of each person aged 15 and 90 years giving €3. This is by far the biggest charity event in Denmark.

This article is tagged under:

  • History of philanthropy
  • Government, legal and tax issues
  • International giving
  • Inspirational donations
  • Philanthropy Advice
  • Philanthropy stats & trends
  • Promoting philanthropy
  • Understanding philanthropy