It is evident that the term foundation is accepted and assimilated by the entire Extremaduran and Spanish society. However, I am sure that many people today will wonder what a foundation is for and, most interestingly, what are the objectives for which it is created. Because even though we are very used to collaborating with them, supporting them or even receiving their help, we do not always know their legal structure and the way in which it is developed. Well, starting from the basic concept, a foundation is a non-profit organization that, by the will of its creators, has permanently assigned its assets to the realization of purposes of general interest and whose beneficiaries are generic groups of people. This definition is the one published on the website of the Spanish Association of Foundations of which the Caja Extremadura Foundation, which I chair, is a member of its executive committee and board of directors.
Thus, the Spanish Association of Foundations is a private and independent association of national scope that brings together 835 Spanish foundations of the most diverse sizes, purposes and areas of action. It is the most representative entity of the sector at the national level and the second most important in Europe. Its mission is to work for the benefit of the entire foundation sector in favor of its development and strengthening. The AEF was established on January 22, 2003 as a result of the merger of the Center of Foundations and the Spanish Confederation of Foundations. It is heir to the work and experience of more than 40 years of the two associations that preceded it. It has three main purposes: to represent and defend the interests of Spanish foundations, to strengthen and articulate the sector and to improve the professionalization and management of foundations, contributing to their transparency and good governance.
In this sense, therefore, the first element that we must make clear to understand the functioning of a foundation is that it does not have the objective of profit. Although this does not mean that you cannot obtain profits as a result of your activity. But these results cannot be dedicated to any other purpose other than reinvesting them in the foundation and in the purpose for which said organization has been created.
The foundations, the Recovery Plan and European funds. Within the framework of the recovery, transformation and resilience plan, which will guide the execution of European funds, the consistency of the foundations’ projects and initiatives with its objectives is recognized.
According to the report prepared by the Spanish Association of Foundations, Spanish foundations manage more than 8 billion euros and employ more than 265,000 people, which means that foundations are not only actors in serving general interest purposes but also the needs of the groups, but they are also economic agents that create wealth and are also civil society that is articulated to help society.
The measures included in the plan establish four axes of transformation: ecological transition, digital transformation, social and territorial cohesion and gender equality. The consistency of the Plan in relation to other initiatives at the national level indicates that in addition to the regional and local projects, there are those of companies and business associations, foundations and other groups that have mobilized and have proposed multiple projects to be financed with the Recovery Plan resources. The Spanish Association of Foundations (AEF) has conveyed to the different public powers the need to recognize the role that foundations must play in the development of recovery funds. Foundations have proven to be a flexible and efficient mechanism in the management of public resources that allow many social demands to be quickly met, especially to complement the actions of the public sector.
Therefore, foundations can contribute even more to the development from Spain of the Recovery Plan for Europe with realistic projects, close to the terrain and social needs, that contribute to repairing the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. , to start the European recovery and to preserve and create jobs.
Third Sector organizations have knowledge of social reality and specialized work in the field, working with people, as well as previous experience in the formulation and execution of European projects. Foundations have the capacity to promote co-financing of projects, particularly private financing and, in some cases, co-investment in some social projects.
They also have experiences of public-private collaboration, as well as between private entities from different sectors; all of them, formulas for action that will be necessary in the development of recovery plans. To carry out a true transformation, the foundational fabric also needs to address those structural reforms that it needs, we need, to develop all our capacity and social impact. Only through transformation will we be able to transform.
A new concept: Community Foundation. I find it very interesting to bring up a very current concept about foundations in this article. I am referring to the so-called Community Foundations (CF), which are non-profit organizations whose purpose is to strengthen and articulate the community in which they work, whether localities, regions, small cities or neighborhoods, channeling resources and skills to resolve needs. and initiatives of common interest to said community.
These form a global movement, but there are no two identical CFs, because all of them are adapted to history, culture and local traditions, in search of solutions to the problems of their own community and in a certain historical context, which They are always unique. These foundations are sometimes also called ‘civic foundations’. Community foundations around the world do share four basic capabilities, which they must achieve during their first 1,000 days of life: knowing how to listen to the community; knowing how to deliver to NGOs; knowing how to be useful to donors; knowing how to understand the needs and opportunities facing the community. Among its main objectives is to contribute to improving the lives of people in a geographical area limited to the local and clearly defined, promoting community cohesion, helping it to strategically decide on its needs and how to address them, in collaboration with organizations in the area or develop open and transparent policies and practices in relation to all aspects of their activity, being publicly accountable. Foundations have the capacity to transform social and economic reality. To carry out a true transformation, the foundational fabric also needs, we need, to address some structural reforms to deploy our full capacity and social impact.
The sector must continue to professionalize and innovate. The challenges of foundations include financial sustainability and the search for new models, but also other challenges such as strengthening their presence in society, given that they can contribute to social and territorial cohesion.
Along this path, foundations also need recognition from institutions as qualified interlocutors of civil society. Only through transformation will we be able to transform.
Foundations, associations of all kinds, humanitarian organizations, social groups… The so-called third sector in Extremadura is broad, diverse and essential. His tireless work during the coronavirus pandemic and the harsh crisis generated by the consequent stoppage of economic activity has allowed him to go where public administrations did not and the blow to the most vulnerable has been somewhat less.
Cáritas, the Food Banks of Cáceres and Badajoz, the Red Cross or Placeat, with their extensive and committed networks of both professionals and volunteers, are just some examples of the fundamental organizations that make up the Extremaduran third sector, which however is not limited only social but also encompasses all types of entities related to culture, leisure, sports and many other areas, provided that they are not public administrations or private companies, nor do they work for profit. They are groups that support Extremadura, putting the common well-being first and turning it into a more just and supportive region, and also more cultured and more attractive to live in and visit.
Among these initiatives linked to the third sector is also HOY Solidario, the portal that Diario HOY opened in March 2017 to give the third sector the voice it deserves, a reference site to go to to find out about the many initiatives and projects that Extremaduran foundations, associations and social entities have in place. It is available to all readers, also in an accessible and easy-to-read version, at solidario.hoy.es.