chapter  19
Pages 9

This chapter examines the roles and visions of foundations in Poland, one of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that began the process of political, social and economic transition from socialism to democracy and capitalism in 1989. The first part of the chapter presents a profile of Polish foundations which includes a brief account of the historical development of foundations, the legal environment and some empirical data. The second part of the chapter discusses foundation roles, visions and policies and concludes by exploring the current developments and emerging issues facing foundations in Poland today. In Poland, there is a divide between the powerful, wealthy grant-making foundations, who are in the minority and tend to favour a role as agents of social and policy change, and the smaller, operating foundations, which constitute the majority. Their focus on the complementarity role (and, ideally, on innovation) is evident in the close relations many of these foundations have with the state. In spite of these divisions, the improvement of regulation and transparency poses a challenge for all foundations and policy makers alike. Foundations are also grappling with the opportunities and challenges regarding funding and cooperation which have been generated by Poland’s accession to the European Union.