International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

Living Edition
| Editors: Regina A. List, Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

King Baudouin Foundation

  • Bram VerschuereEmail author
Living reference work entry

Alternate Names


The King Baudouin Foundation is the largest public benefit foundation in Belgium, serving as an institution that facilitates or directly provides financial resources to a plethora of organizations, mainly private, to allow these organizations to develop projects for the public benefit domestically and internationally. As such, it is a prime example of a civil society organization serving as a financial vehicle for other nonprofit and civil society organizations performing projects for the public benefit.

Address / URL

Brederodestraat 21, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.


The King Baudouin Foundation (also Koning Boudewijn-Stichting or Fondation Roi Baudouin) is a Belgian independent public benefit foundation. It was established in 1976 when Baudouin I (1930–1993) celebrated his 25th anniversary as King of Belgium. He did not want to receive any personal gifts to mark his jubilee, so the idea of a foundation was born.

Brief History

On March 31, 1976, the King Baudouin Foundation is presented to the King and the Belgian nation. The statutes of the Foundation appear in the annexes of the Moniteur Belge of 31 December 1975. In the early days, the priority themes of the Foundation were selected: social aid, voluntary work, health and improving working conditions, rural planning, environment and forward-looking research, preserving cultural heritage, and protecting young people. Since then, the mission of the Foundation has been continuously adapted to emerging and new social needs and themes. After the death of King Baudouin in 1993, the Foundation decides to continue its task and activities in the spirit desired by the King.


Generally spoken, the King Baudouin Foundation supports commitment to create greater justice, democracy, and diversity in society. Its mission develops along some fields of activity like talent development, democracy, European engagement, heritage, development cooperation, sustainable development, social justice and poverty, civil society and social commitment, health, and philanthropy, in Belgium as well as in other parts of the world (e.g., Balkans and Central Africa). In developing its mission, the Foundation takes into account new and emerging social needs and challenges. As a result, the focus of its mission has somewhat shifted over time, but the common denominator remains contributing to a better society.


To achieve this mission, the Foundation deploys various activities and working methods. They support third party projects. Individuals, organizations, and institutions can respond to calls for projects on specific themes. The Foundation also organizes workshops, colloquia, and seminars with citizens and experts. In this sense, they want to bring together people and groups with different perspectives and backgrounds to reflect on current social problems and future themes. Further, the Foundation publishes results of their work via various media like newspapers, annual reports, research reports, and newsletters. The Foundation is also very active in networking with government bodies and institutions, and other partners like associations, NGOs, companies, and other foundations. Finally, the Foundation is an important fund-raiser through its Centre for Philanthropy (donations, funds, wills, and legacies). It also acts as facilitator between potential individual and corporate donors and nonprofit organizations by providing donor advisory services and by setting up numerous funds and tools to assist in the collection, management, and disbursement of philanthropic resources.

Structure and Governance

The most important body is the board of governors, guided by a chairman. Board members are assigned for 8 years maximum. The board sets the main policy lines of the Foundation. An advisory board, consisting of 20 people that occupy key societal positions, advises the board with regard to the strategic mission and vision of the Foundation. The Foundation has approx. 90 FTE paid employees, headed by a managing director and five directors. The managing director is member of the board of governors. Four so-called censors are designated by the board to oversee the management of wills and bequests on behalf of the Foundation. Finally, there are several committees that assist the board in financial matters, matters of remuneration and personnel, and in financially auditing the Foundation.


The Foundation started in 1975 with an endowment of one billion Belgian francs (around €24,790,000) from a collection of funds, a subsidy from the Council of Ministers, and the issuing of commemorative gold medals, silver coins, and special postage stamps. Today, with an annual budget of approx. €90 million, the Foundation is the largest independent public benefit foundation in Belgium. Financial resources come from a large grant from the National Lottery and philanthropy (donations, legacies, and the funds set up by individuals, associations, and companies). A considerable part of the income also comes from capitalizing the Foundation’s own funds and capital. In 2018, the Foundation spent over €44 million to support projects related to its mission, in favor of over 150 individuals and over 1950 organizations: financial support of third party proposals, launching its own calls for proposals, organizing seminars and creating publications, and personnel costs associated with these projects.


A major accomplishment is the creation of the Centre for Philanthropy, which advises donors and intermediaries on how most effectively to allocate their funds to a social objective. The Foundation manages over 750 active funds of individuals and companies. Besides being very active in Belgian society, the Foundation also emphasizes the international dimension of projects. To facilitate cross-border philanthropy, it has established offices in the United States and Canada and is member of Transnational Giving Europe. Also, the efforts of the Foundation to encourage philanthropy are successful, as the number of funds created by individuals, associations, and companies has grown considerably. Finally, the Foundation is influential in policy debates via their (commissioned) research and reports. For example, their “General Report on Poverty” of 1994, in which the results of a survey among people who are underprivileged are presented, was and remains influential.



  1. Accessed 10 Oct 2019.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Governance and ManagementGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Section editors and affiliations

  • Regina A. List
    • 1
  1. 1.HamburgGermany