An interview with director Isabelle Marneffe
The VUB Foundation is VUB’s philanthropic service, part of the vice-rectorate of Innovation and Valorisation. It raises funds from companies and institutions, as well as through individuals like you and me. The foundation’s policy is based on the belief that every philanthropic gift creates a social return. Indeed, every contribution supports education, research, innovation or the estates of VUB. The resulting knowledge and insights flow back to society. And that includes you. We talk to Isabelle Marneffe, director of the VUB Foundation.
Isabelle, how do donations support our teaching and scientific research?
The VUB Foundation always raises funds according to VUB’s priorities. For example, the Caroline Pauwels Relief Fund provides financial support to students who are facing difficulties in continuing their studies. The late honorary rector Caroline Pauwels wanted this fund to ensure equal educational opportunities at VUB.
Sadly, both she and her predecessor, honorary rector Paul De Knop, died of cancer, and far too soon. He founded the Paul De Knop Fund and moved mountains to finance the immunotherapy research of Prof Dr Bart Neyns and his team at the UZ Brussel. Both funds will of course continue.
I’d also like to mention Yamina Krossa who, as an ex-breast cancer patient, founded the Yamina Krossa Fund and is personally committed to supporting the research of VUB-VIB Prof Damya Laoui and her team, who are working to develop a vaccine against recurrent tumours or metastasis
Another way to help VUB is to include scientific research as a good cause in your will. What does that entail?
Many people wish to contribute to the advancement of society by supporting scientific research even after their death. Some choose to discuss with us what research or education they would like to support and in what way, before making their will with the notary. But it sometimes we are only informed about a will after the person’s death. Income from bequests is very important to our university and makes important scientific research possible. In Flanders, charities do not have to pay inheritance tax.
Are there any legacies that specifically support research into cancer?
Most legacies fund cancer research, which is extremely useful, as investigation is very expensive and more research into all aspects of cancer is much needed. Bequests for the benefit of cancer research allow important additional investments to be made within top research teams at VUB and UZ Brussel that have already made significant contributions to cancer research
What happens to the donations that come in to VUB? How does it work?
The VUB Foundation centralises all donations to VUB and is responsible for the management of the VUB chairs in cooperation with businesses, the named VUB funds, legacies, donations and sponsorship. All donations have a code so that the donation can be allocated directly to the correct researcher or service. From the gross income, in accordance with the overhead regulations, 17% is retained to finance our operations and those of other departments concerned. We are completely transparent about this.
Can you give examples of the impact of philanthropy on cancer research?
Last year, more than €2 million was injected into promising fundamental and applied cancer research, thanks entirely to legacies. The purchase of high-tech equipment contributes to the development of new therapies that advance the survival of cancer patients. Thanks to the Paul De Knop Fund and the Yamina Krossa Fund, more than €1 million has already been raised for the research teams of Prof Bart Neyns and Prof Damya Laoui. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of so many philanthropists! This is the proof of our slogan: “What you give to VUB you get back”.
All information about VUB Foundation and the projects she supports you can find here.