1 September, 2019 Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On Greece
he word ‘philanthropy’ is derived from the ancient Greek phrase, ‘philanthropia’ which means ‘to love people’.
Appropriately, philanthropy in Greece, despite challenging economic times, is alive and well.
One of the most active players in Greece’s philanthropy landscape is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) which
was established on the death of shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, after he left a significant portion of his vast
fortune for the establishment of a foundation in his name. From the outset the foundation aimed to contribute to
the improvement of the lives of the lives of less privileged individuals and to support organisations and projects that
are expected to achieve a broad, lasting and positive impact for society.
The foundation has become one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organisations, making
grants to non-profit organisations in a number of areas including arts and culture, education, health, sports, and
In 2016 the foundation committed $150 billion to establish the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at John
Hopkins University in the United State, a multidisciplinary centre which promotes civil discourse and civic
engagement worldwide. It has also gifted $75 million to the Rockefeller University and $55 million gift to the New
York Public Library.
In the wake of the devastating fires that claimed several lives in Greece in 2018, the SNF announced a grant of €25
million to aid the Hellenic Fire Department. The aim of the grant was to contribute to the preservation of Greece’s
natural resources and to reinforce the fire department’s infrastructure in order to help prevent similar future
The SNF’s grant initiatives in Greece have totalled around $380 million, many of which have been focused around
providing relief against the negative effects of the country’s socioeconomic crisis and expanding Greece’s health
Since its establishment in 1996, the SNF has committed more than $2.8 billion through more than 4 500 grants to non-
profit organisations in 124 countries around the world.
The foundation has long grappled with an appropriate role for philanthropy given the ongoing socioeconomic crisis in
Greece. Its philanthropic efforts are underpinned by two important principles. The first principle is that philanthropy
should not be a replacement for a government’s responsibility to offer public services. The second principle is that the
foundation’s priority must be to support those who are most affected by the socioeconomic crisis in Greece: the
homeless, hungry and those without healthcare. The foundation strongly believes that addressing their needs is – and
should always be – the main goal of philanthropy.
Another prominent philanthropy player in Greece is the Vardinogiannis Foundation, founded by the family of shipping
magnate, Vardis Vardinogiannis. The foundation supports a number of philanthropic initiatives in Greece including
child welfare organisation, The Smile of the Child.
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