Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo: impact generator

How Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo became an “impact generator” in the North West of Italy  

Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo: impact generator  

Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo was founded in Turin in 1563 for philanthropic and charitable purposes, to promote cultural, social and economic development, on the strength of its solid assets and grant-making capacity.   

In 2020, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo aligned their organisation with the UN 2030 Agenda, applying the Sustainable Development Goals as a rigorous, internationally shared methodological framework.  

In 2022, the CSP Data Hub platform was created to extract value and knowledge from the large amount of information inside and outside the foundation. Now, each project is associated with one or more SDGs and related targets, from design to delivery and implementation. This innovation is allowing Compagnia di San Paolo to adapt policies and strategies over time, according to high-level guidelines and priorities.  

This approach is crucial to determine if and how the foundation is contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals at a local level: Compagnia di San Paolo aims to play a pivotal role, evolving from “impact facilitator” to “impact generator”. 


Innovating with a purpose 

In recent years, philanthropy has moved closer to the world of innovation. Compagnia di San Paolo intends to promote an alternative model in which bringing together multiple players (institutions, not-for-profit entities, companies, universities and incubators, founders, investors) can help strengthen the position of their region as an international hub for sustainable innovation. 

The foundation has implemented multiple tools, some already tested, others brand new, building on the best experiences of the most advanced philanthropy as part of its multi-annual plan. 

The thread that connects philanthropy and innovation is the purpose. Innovating with a purpose requires a new and different kind of approach. Purpose strengthens innovation by focusing on meaningful impact beyond traditional metrics, whose main goal is to pursue increasingly ambitious outcomes. Purpose enables innovators to think differently. 

We know that times of great crisis lead to great innovation. Like other public and private actors, in recent years the foundation has been called upon to address the main challenges facing the future.  


Grant-making to foster local development 

In Europe and in Italy, the not-for-profit sector and the social economy comprise a single engine of solidarity, development and resilience, channelling civic and social energies into fulfilling real needs, with creativity, flexibility and speed. The sector’s identity as the “third pillar” of society has a founding value that can and must be relaunched, to imagine and plan the future. However, there are weaknesses in its intangible assets, which is why there is an opportunity to intervene in the third sector to strengthen the managerial and technological skills of organisations.  

Consequently, since 2021, the foundation has promoted and supported “Next Generation You” (NGYou), a call for proposals aimed at investing in the organisational strength of entities through rationalisation and growth processes intended to improve their innovation, sustainability and autonomy and, consequently, their ability to be development levers for the territory in which they operate and bring widespread and lasting benefits.  

The foundation has made available a budget of over €14 Million,” said Daniela Gregnanin, project manager NGYou.“ The monitoring action is articulated in a collection of homogeneous data of works progress, followed by quarterly individual meetings between the staff of the foundation, the project managers of the supported institution and their consultants. These meetings are great opportunities for exchanging information and confirm our high attention to the pursuit of the intervention goals.” 

So far, the foundation has attracted the interest of more than 400 organisations and supported 250 entities in their journey of organisational strengthening and development, also thanks to the assistance of expert consultants and a solid analysis and design method.  

The projects received show a great willingness to respond to the shortcomings that often underlie a lack of funds from the public administrations,” said a referee** from Next Generation You. “The proposals represent an excellent cross-section of a territory that is at stake; they also highlight the planning skills of 'best-in-class' organisations and the efforts of smaller organisations to adopt a stronger organisational structure."   

Furthermore, in 2021, Compagnia di San Paolo allocated €9.5 million to support the project capabilities of local institutions ranging from metropolitan cities to mountain communities through the “Next Generation We” (NGWe) call for proposals. The starting point was an awareness that, in Italy, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (known in Italian as the Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza (PNRR) and referring to the Next Generation EU package of extraordinary European funding) suffers from a lack of competent human capital. This is precisely the problem that the foundation wanted to address for the North-West of Italy, stimulating organisations to activate a variety of training paths in social innovation, strengthening their applications to the PNRR and similar calls.  

NGWe was important on the training profile,” said a referee from NGWe. "We are confident that the contribution of skills and designs developed are functional for the acquisition of resources by local authorities also in funding frameworks other than that of the PNRR."   

Thanks to this call, the foundation has attracted more than 290 proposals and supported 148 public entities. 

In addition to the support in the candidacy phase for the PNRR tenders,” said Claudia Traina, project manager NGWe, “the Foundation guaranteed technical-organisational management support to the organisations, which is essential to be able to "ground" investments in compliance with the strict deadlines of the Plan. This meant offering training courses on the technicalities of the PNRR.”  

Looking ahead, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo wishes to contribute to making the North-West of Italy more "future-proof."


**The "referees" quoted in this article are experts in the specific field of a project or a call, who are not part of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo's staff, and who give advice on the specific field of interest of a call or a project.   

Hear more from Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo at Impact Week, where the foundation will be presenting on the topic of how to effectively enhance impact through catalytic grantmaking across Europe. Join us!  

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