Interview with the Transnational Giving Europe (TGE) Network

The Transnational Giving Europe (TGE) Network was founded in 1998 by a group of leading European Foundations aiming to provide a practical and secure solution for tax-effective cross-border donations. Our mission is to make cross-border philanthropy easy and accessible to European donors and nonprofit organizations until the implementation of the common market for philanthropy becomes a reality in Europe.

Today, the TGE Network covers 21 European countries and enables donors, both corporations and individuals, resident in one of the participating countries, to financially support non-profit organizations in other Member States, while benefiting directly from the tax advantages provided for in the legislation of their country of tax residence.

Additionally, the Network promotes cross-border philanthropy through the exchange of information and best practices across the sector and towards policy makers. We hope that the mission and functioning of the Network might inspire EU decision-makers in their roadmap to the single philanthropy market.

1) Which countries are members of the TGE Network?

Today, TGE is available to donors and nonprofit organizations in 21 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

We were delighted to welcome our Greek partner, HIGGS, as well as the Open Estonia Foundation in 2018.

Over the past few years, the interest for the Transnational Giving Europe service has been growing as a trusted and practical service for a tax-effective philanthropy across Europe, both with donors and charitable organizations. We are thus always on the lookout for new European countries to join the Network.

2) HIGGS is also a member of the TGE Network. What does this mean for a) a Greek non-profit organization (fundraiser) and b) a Greek donor? What are the benefits for them?

It is a fact that nonprofit ecosystems across Europe are becoming increasingly internationalized. European donors now have charitable interests beyond their national borders, while European nonprofits seek to expand their fundraising efforts across countries. Thanks to our partnership with our Greek partner HIGGS, the TGE Network is able to provide a secure and efficient solution to enable cross-border donations to and from Greece.

For a Greek nonprofit organization, this means that they can extend their fundraising activities abroad, without having to set up local branches or sister organizations and without having to master different national laws. TGE partners can channel tax-deductible gifts from their national donors and make grants towards Greek charitable entities. By using the Network where they need it, Greek nonprofits can potentially access 20 different European donor bases.

Meanwhile, HIGGS can facilitate tax-effective donations from Greek donors seeking to support European nonprofits abroad. Thanks to our TGE partner, Greek donors’ gifts in favor of European charitable entities will benefit from the same tax-deductibility as donations directed to a Greek nonprofit.

Our aim is to build a bridge between charitable entities and their donors abroad and in doing so to drive philanthropy across Europe and support organizations working for the common good.

3) How does TGE work?

The TGE Network acts as a facilitator between nonprofit organizations and donors across Europe. Any charitable organisation can register to be a beneficiary through the scheme, from those that are small and fairly local to large et prestigious NPOs with a wide range of actions. Two examples of beneficiaries using the TGE Network are museums with prospective donors abroad and universities fundraising towards their worldwide community of alumni.

To proceed with the registration process, nonprofit organizations simply need to contact their national TGE partners. They are then asked to fill in the online TGE Grant Eligibility Application Form (GEAF) and upload some documents (by-laws, annual and financial reports…) in order to receive the TGE Network approval.

Once the charities’ due diligence process is completed and the organizations are declared eligible, donations can be channeled from one country to another with all applicable tax incentives for donors.

In this way, supporting foreign organizations yields the same tax benefits for donors as supporting non-profit organizations in their home country.

4) Why is such a solution important?

Over the years, we have seen an increasing demand from donors across Europe, and beyond, to have the choice and flexibility to make cross-border gifts and donations to help and support international causes and foreign charities.

In the case of individual donors, families, investments, interests are now spread over countries. Expatriates, for instance, want to support causes and organizations in their country of origin, while former university students wish to give back to their alma matter. Meanwhile, multinational corporations’ assets and business interests are more geographically diverse than ever.

In 2018, the Network channeled 13,4 million euros to over 500 beneficiaries across 20 countries and 8 different fields of action (education, culture, international development, health, social matters, third sector initiatives, environment and religion). This represents an increase of 27,6% compared to 2017, with an approximate 5,800 donations made.

Today more than ever, cross-border philanthropy has become a real opportunity. Yet, resistances still remain whether they are legal, fiscal and administrative difficulties or simply a lack of awareness on donors and nonprofits’ part that tax-efficient cross-border giving can be an option.

We need regulations and policies to improve the operating environment European philanthropic actors work in. In the meantime, TGE endeavors to provide an easy and accessible solution.

5) Are there any upcoming events that a Greek non-profit organization could attend?

In April 2020, the King Baudouin Foundation will once again be organising its “Spring of Philanthropy” to promote the role of philanthropy in today’s society. This large scale event will explore philanthropic topics and offer a forum for innovative ideas and new practices that can inspire philanthropists in the way they are committed and tackle societal problems. The Spring of Philanthropy also intends to show how important it is to recognise, promote and encourage philanthropy on a national, European and international level.

Philanthropists, policymakers, notaries, wealth advisors, CSR managers, family officers, foundations and major organisations will be meeting on Tuesday 28 April 2020 during the European Philanthropy Day in Brussels.

You can find all the practical details about the event and the provisional programme via this link.

6) Do you have any studies related to the non-profit ecosystem that you would like to share with our network in Greece?

In 2014, TGE and the European Foundation Centre (EFC) released a study entitled “Taxation of cross-border philanthropy in Europe after Persche and Stauffer – From landlock to free movement?”. The study analyzed the varied and in some cases incomplete implementation by Member States of the non-discrimination principle on the tax treatment of philanthropy, as set out in a series of key rulings by the European Court of Justice (Persche, Stauffer, Missionswerk). http://efc.issuelab.org/resources/18545/18545.pdf

In 2017, TGE and EFC released a follow-up paper, “Boosting cross-border philanthropy in Europe – towards a tax-effective environment”, which highlights enabling and discouraging fiscal environments for cross-border philanthropy in Europe, and develops recommendations for improvements and simplifications: https://www.efc.be/uploads/2019/03/Boosting-Cross-Border-Philanthropy-in-Europe-Towards-a-Tax-Effective-Environment.pdf

Across the years, the TGE Network has also worked with its 21 partners to develop country profiles, which provide donors and charities with practical tools to understand each national framework for cross-border philanthropy. These profiles are available on the TGE website: https://www.transnationalgiving.eu/country-profiles

7) What is the next step for TGE?

We are convinced it is essential for actors of the European philanthropic sector to be precursors and show concrete and innovative solutions when engaging with policy makers.

Since 2018, TGE has been working alongside two of its major partners – FEDORA and Common Goal – and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to develop the first online giving application to facilitate tax-efficient cross-border giving in Europe.

With this solution, we aim to enable donors from all over Europe to make online tax-deductible donations in a user-friendly way and, at the same time, to provide an easy-to-use solution to European nonprofit organizations wishing to extend their fundraising across the continent.

We hope it will become a flagship project for transnational giving and help improve the operating environment European nonprofit actors work in.

Anne-Laure Paquot – Transnational Giving Europe

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