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Dr. Rien van Gendt

Philanthropy Services

Private money for the public good can play a fundamental role to enhance the quality of our society. Philanthropy can deploy resources for initiatives, that otherwise are difficult to fund, but have a great potential. I offer my services to families, civil society organisations, investors and corporates, that want to engage in effective philanthropy and wealth management.

My Story

I grew up in a caring family with parents, that were not affluent, but made sacrifices for their children to go to higher education and use their potential. It influenced my life and explains why I take a genuine interest in people, particularly when they live in poverty or under vulnerable circumstances. I see the untapped potential of people; I am impressed by the resilience they show and want to contribute to this.

In 1988 I joined the world of philanthropy as Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation in The Hague, a grantmaker and social investor in more than 40 countries. My previous work at the University of Amsterdam, the OECD in Paris, the Scientific Council on Government Policy (WRR), the Province of Limburg and the international company Wilma Real Estate, came all together in Van Leer: funding in a strategic, daring and impactful way.

After retiring from Van Leer in 2007 I started Van Gendt Philanthropy Services, offering my expertise to further the effectiveness of philanthropy, to support boards with their fiduciary responsibility to invest their endowments in a professional manner and to align giving and investing in a smart way.

I am engaged in diverse fields of action, that range from education, social justice, health care, international development, community philanthropy to culture; also culture because I believe in the power of culture to foster social cohesion, to express oneself in a non-verbal, universal manner and to unite beyond borders.

With private money one makes available the social venture capital, that is so badly needed for a society to progress. We should not fill the gaps left by governments. Philanthropy should be humble but also be bold, strategic and agile in that it can use its independence to take risks, to take a long-term view and to contribute to a more diverse and pluriform society.

Current Positions

Member Supervisory Board Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, New York
Member Board Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Europe, London
Member Board IMC Weekendschool, Amsterdam
Senior Advisor Board Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
Chair Investment Committee Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
Advisor GSRD Foundation, Amsterdam
Advisor Netherlands Dance Theatre, The Hague
Advisor DoubleDividend, Amsterdam
Advisor Movies That Matter, Amsterdam
Member Scientific Committee Long Term Investors (UniTo), Turin
Advisor Stichting BuzinezzClub, Rotterdam

Latest Publications


Philea Forum 2024: Trust and Philanthropy

Van 27 tot 30 Mei vond in Gent de jaarlijkse bijeenkomst van Philea plaats: Philea…

Alle Hens aan Dek: Giftenaftrek versus Geefsubsidie

Het lijkt ok maar er kleven bezwaren aan geefsubsidies In het rapport van SEO Economisch…

Hoe groter, hoe beter… Of toch niet?

De omvang van een fonds als kritische factor Hoe vaak denken vermogensfondsen na over hun…

My friend, my mentor, my colleague, my inspiration. Rien is a calming, positive and thoughtful interlocutor with a memory like a computer. An amazing combination of rigour and discipline combined with an uncanny ability to delegate without micro managing. A person I am in awe of and would love to mimic but can’t.

Gerry SaloleFormer Executive Director European Foundation Center

IMC Weekend School is proud to have Rien van Gendt as a board member. Tirelessly and inspirationally, he helps to connect our organisation to state of the art insights in philanthropy, and from a wealth of experience challenges our strategic planning.

Heleen TerwijnFounder & Director strategy IMC Weekend School

Rien Van Gendt is a phenomenon. We, at Fonds 1818, got to experience that closely. For 9 years he was a member of our governing board. He played an important role as chair of our Investment Committee. He was responsible for shaping the diversification of our investment policy. Like no other he argued for philanthropy’s value in society!

Jan SchinkelshoekFormer Chair Board Fonds 1818

Rien van Gendt's remarkable expertise, insight and counsel as a board member for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors have contributed significantly to our successful growth and evolution.

Melissa BermanPresident / CEO Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Rien is a highly respected thought leader in global philanthropy and social change. He is a trusted advisor on foundation strategy, governance and operations with an ability to offer actionable and real-world solutions backed by solid analysis.

Rogier van der WeerdFormer Executive Director Adessium Foundation

Rien van Gendt has been our trusted consultant for over 12 years. With his wide network and experience in the field of philanthropy he is an important advisor to the board. He played a key role in the establishment of the GSRD Foundation and is continuing to support us in its further professionalization.

Jos van TilburgFounder and Chair GSRD Foundation

Rien is known as Mr. Philanthropy, the person behind many initiatives in Europe. For me it created an image of distance. Never a stereotype was more wrong. Rien is the most wise, knowledgeable and experienced person in the field. But he is also the most approachable, cultural sensitive, careful listener that I ever met, devoting the same attention to a junior intern as to a Minister.

Carola CarazzoneSecretary General Assifero (Italian Association of Foundations)