Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On Norway

Despite the fact that Norway does not have a strong philanthropic tradition – due primarily to the fact that the country has a relatively equitable society with only small social, cultural and economic differences amongst its citizens – the country has a strong culture of volunteerism with around 60% of the population typically volunteering their time each year to a charitable or philanthropic initiative.  

Half of all income to philanthropic initiatives in Norway comes from individual, rather than corporate, donations. Their preference is to donate to international aid organisations such as SOS Children’s Villages, Plan Norway and Save the Children, followed by health initiatives.  

Grant making foundations in Norway have a bias towards funding research, focusing in particular on natural sciences and medicine.  

Following global trends, irecent years wealthy individuals have started to come forward to establish philanthropic initiatives. In 2013 self-made Norwegian billionaire, Olav Thron, handed a 71.9% stake in his listed real estate holding company, plus a substantial chunk of his personal wealth, to a charitable foundation which he established with the intention of distributing profits to various charitable initiatives. Thron’s real estate empire included around 500 properties including hotels, retail space and office buildings. 

More recently, Norwegian billionaire, Kjell Inge Roekke committed to giving away the bulk of his estimated US$2 billion fortune to philanthropic endeavours. Roekke accumulated his wealth through a global fisheries business and later the oil industry. His company, Aker ASA, is one of Norway’s largest companies with interests in offshore fishing, construction and engineering.  

Roekke’s foundation provides scholarships to postgraduate students. In 2017 he announced that he would be funding a research ship tasked with removing plastic from the ocean. The research vessel, which is managed by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), has laboratories on board, a crew of 30 and space for 60 scientific staff. The ship removes plastic from the ocean and is able to melt up to five tons of plastic a day.   

The Norwegian royal family also play a role in the country’s philanthropic endeavours: The Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess Foundation have selected four organisations to partner with in its efforts to strengthen Norwegian youth. 


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