How Enterprise Foundations Can Sustain Sustainability: The European Relevance of a Nordic Ownership Model

Rasmus Kristian Feldthusen, Steen Thomsen

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In this chapter, we argue that foundations have a huge untapped potential to contribute to addressing the great social challenges of our time. Foundations in effect are private providers of public goods and therefore combine private sector initiative with social purpose. However, realizing this potential requires freeing foundations from some of the canonical limitations of contemporary foundation law, in particular the strict separation between philanthropy and business, which authorities in many countries zealously enforce. Allowing enterprise foundations (foundation ownership of business companies) as the majority of Nordic countries do will enable foundations to exercise benevolent long-term ownership of business companies while contributing a steady source of funding for sustainable development through donations and operating philanthropy. We outline the regulation necessary to make the structure work, including a central foundation regulator operating at arms’ length distance to the political system, full disclosure of philanthropy and ownership ties, audited accounts and good governance including independent boards.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordic Company Law : Broadening the Horizon
EditorsBeate Kristine Sjåfjell, Jukka Mähönen
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationOslo
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9788215054094
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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