The Foundation was founded in 2009 by Alexandre Soares dos Santos and his family for the purpose of studying the country’s major hindrances and bring them to the attention of the Portuguese people. Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation views to address a loophole in Portuguese society: despite considerable discussion about the most diverse subjects on the public arena, the debate in Portugal always seems to be based on subjective opinions and personal perceptions rather than on solid data and careful research.
The Foundation thus publishes books and conducts research on relevant society issues, such as education, the economy, justice, or public policies; it organises meetings and discussions, gathering and giving voice to national and international experts; it creates, collects and discloses data on Portugal and Europe through various platforms.
Digital media is a key instrument for the Foundation’s mission of providing all citizens with access to this information. All activities and research are available online, via social networks, sites or databases such as Pordata. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a more informed society, strengthening citizens’ civic rights, the quality of institutions and the adjustment of public policies.
In accordance with its statutes and the wishes of its founder, the Foundation's mission is to promote and improve knowledge of Portuguese reality, thereby contributing to the development of society, the consolidation of citizens' rights and the improvement of public institutions. With that fundamental objective, and without prejudice to the carrying out of other activities deemed appropriate to the pursuit of its aims, the Foundation will promote studies in several areas. It will make analyses of selected themes, publish the results, make recommendations and encourage public discussion of the topics studied. The studies will cover a wide range of themes but will especially focus on: demography and population, social and economic conditions and development, health, education, professional training, social security, the State, national identity, public administration, citizens' rights and duties, citizenship and democratic institutions, labour relations, territorial organisation, cities, social questions, social cohesion, inequality and conflict, justice, economic and social policies, public institutions, public services, relations between the State and citizens, access to culture, information and social communication.
The Foundation is completely independent of political organisations and is not affiliated to the ideology of any political party. Its work, however, is guided by the principles of human dignity, social solidarity and the values of democracy, freedom, equality of opportunity, merit and pluralism.
In terms of studies, the Foundation demands rigorous analysis. In the area of conclusions and public debate, the Foundation is particularly aware of the need to make suggestions and recommendations, thereby contributing more effectively to improving institutions and society.
Special emphasis is placed upon dissemination and debate. Indeed, the FFMS wishes the results of the studies it promotes to be as widely discussed in society as possible. To this end, an important part of its resources will be dedicated to the dissemination and the organisation of public debate. The Foundation will focus on new forms of communication, which include documentaries, cinema, television and the Internet, with the aim of reaching as many people as possible.
In its first years' work, the Foundation is especially committed to making the greatest amount of information possible to citizens. Informed citizens are the ones who are best positioned to form an independent and free opinion. Some of the Foundation's initial and main projects aim to disseminate fundamental information about Portuguese society, as well as the comparison of Portugal with other European countries.
Charter of Principles
Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos herein proposes to think about, to study and to contribute to a better knowledge of the Portuguese reality. Its aim is to cooperate in the effort of solution of the problems of the society, to the benefit of all Portuguese people and of the generations to come.
In order to reach this aim, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos shall promote the realisation of studies, investigation works and other initiatives which, obeying to the highest standards of rigor and quality, allow a better understanding of the reality, submit real solutions and recommendations to those who have to decide, deepen the debate around the great national problems and contribute to the justice, to the development and to the reinforcement of social cohesion.
The activity of Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos shall be guided by the principles of dignity of the human being and of social solidarity and by the values of democracy, of freedom, of equality of opportunities, of the merit and of pluralism.
Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos shall act in absolute independence in relation to all public and private powers, ideologies, opinion trends, philosophic trends, religious beliefs or confessions. Its corporate bodies are the guarantors of the fulfilment of the statutory norms, notably of its independence.
Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos considers as essential to promote a more active involvement of the civil society in the reflexion and solution of national problems and, for such reason, it shall endeavour its best efforts to give to citizens the widest knowledge of its initiatives and projects. In such sense, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos shall seek to provide the Portuguese society with clear, objective and accurate information on the results of its activities, further guaranteeing the maximum transparency in regard to its organisation, its purposes, its sources of financing and its activities.
Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos is of the opinion that the realisation of enlarged and plural public debates around its recommendations is a purpose as important as the realisation of research studies and works.
In the pursuit of its activities, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos seeks to be faithful to the commitment of social responsibility that constitutes its mission, such as defined by its founders.
The Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation will be active and support projects in a number of different areas, for example, permanent projects (like «PORDATA», Contemporary Portugal Database or the «Foundation Essays» collection) and projects with a specific time frame. The latter can be isolated projects on a specific subject; or be part of joint programmes that boast both strategy and sequence.
The permanent projects are essential in nature: providing citizens with the greatest amount of existing information about Portuguese society; quantitative information, in the case of PORDATA, and ideas and causes for reflection, in the case of the «Foundation Essays».
In its early years, the Foundation's priority is to provide those interested (which means, the informed public: students, teachers, business people, company staff, the professions, public institutions, associations, scientific societies, trade unions, journalists, intellectuals, media and communication companies, etc.) with factual data, means of information, elements of studies on society and instruments that reliably reflect reality.
Other permanent projects in the pipeline include:
- The FFMS.COM conferences
- Gauges of public opinion
The projects with a specific time-frame can be grouped into two categories. Firstly, those which are part of coherent and group programmes and secondly, isolated projects with specific objectives.
The projects that are part of programmes will be considered as the most important and ones that will require greater attention in the first years of the Foundation's work. The first programme is called «Conditions of development in Portuguese Society». The main focus of the programme will be the human, social, political, institutional and cultural conditions of development.
The Foundation's contribution should be both realistic and bold, but one that also boasts the humility of a true public service. It is not the Foundation's role to substitute the State, political parties, universities, business groups or scientific and professional societies. In contemporary societies, it is true that the State and political parties are producing less and less thought: managing immediate concerns, electoral agendas and the need for propaganda all dominate the work of these institutions. Universities, which are largely constrained by academic careers and a lack of funding, often function at arm's length from society's problems. In these circumstances, and in line with the wishes of its founders, the job of this Foundation is to "produce thought" that is both independent and rigorous.
«Conditions of development in Portuguese society»
Conditions for development in Portugal are well-known. The projects devised as part of this programme aim to find answers to the question, «Why don't we develop?». In other words: getting to know more about the difficulties and obstacles to development; studying contemporary issues and experiences that allow the removal of impediments or discover more about what successes have been achieved. The Foundation's aim is not to present miraculous solutions or infallible recipes, but rather to provide knowledge and public debate.
Projects will be divided into various chapters:
- Attitudes and behaviour towards development
- People and health
- Human capacities. Training and culture
- Territory. Spatial Planning. Cities
- Institutions. The public domain, the State and Justice
- The social issue. Distribution. Inequality
Currently, and also in the short term, the Foundation is preparing a number of projects:
- The costs and prices of Health;
- Infant mortality in Portugal: development and the social, political and institutional factors that cause it to decrease;
- The ageing of the Portuguese population: development and demographic diagnosis;
- Ageing: social implications;
- Social inequality: current panorama;
- Social inequality: instruments of measurement;
- Cultural values and attitudes towards economic development and the quality of democracy;
- Political and civic participation in European decisions;
- Legislative assessments.
- Three programmes are currently being prepared for studies to be included in various years of sequential projects:
- Key Education issues;
- The European Union, the State, society and citizens;
- Law and Justice.
The Foundation maintains high standards of independence from party-political, economic, religious and professional circles, doctrines, and associations. This can be seen, not only in the structural organisation of the Foundation and its activities, but also in its choice of projects and issues studied, as well as its selection of project leaders.
- Project leaders and authors must ensure academic and scientific rigour in the analysis of the facts and the situations which they study. The Foundation is obliged to safeguard the high standards of substantiation and objectivity.
- Project leaders and authors can be either Portuguese or foreign.
- A critical approach in the analysis of the facts and the conclusions of the studies does not diminish the objectivity and rigour of the work done.
- Project objectives must include recommendations and authors will be responsible for the interpretation of the facts, voicing their opinions and making value judgments when making suggestions.
- As far as possible, authors must use comparative methods, which permit them to place what is being studied (institutions, places, regions, the country, etc.) within a wider context and contrast them with other situations and experiences.
- The study of Portuguese reality includes its international dimensions, particularly the European Union and Portuguese-speaking countries.
- Whenever possible and appropriate, projects promoted by the Foundation will take into consideration the need to understand Portuguese realities in comparison with those of other countries.
- Whenever possible and appropriate, project leaders will be able to work with national or foreign consultants or specialists, who can offer knowledge and experience, thus broadening the horizons of the studies.
- The target audience of the projects and their conclusions will be made of informed people from a wide range of social strata and professions. The work aims not to be elitist or academic, nor populist or to be of mass appeal.
- Project documents and conclusions should be written in clear and comprehensible language, which is accessible to all informed and non-specialist people. Some projects may make use of more technical, academic, specialised and relatively hermetic language. In such cases, the authors must express themselves in language that is accessible to informed individuals (through texts, publications, CDs or DVDs). Contracts for projects and the editing or publication of books, or any other text, will always include a clause allowing the Foundation to review texts and suggest changes and improvements.
- A constant concern for every project will be the publication of results and interpretations. Authors and project leaders must participate in the activities the Foundation organizes to divulge such information.
- In promoting studies and projects, one of the Foundation's principal objectives is to stimulate public debate. The Foundation wishes to influence and contribute to the improvement of public institutions, but it wishes to do this in a transparent way, before an engaged public and with the participation of all interested parties.
- The Foundation, in itself, does not share the opinions and suggestions of project leaders and authors. It sponsors the studies and their conclusions, without endorsing any stated positions.
- The Foundation will seek balance in the issues it chooses to focus on and will be attentive to all the facts, not just the "undisputed" or "established" ones. It will also not pay undue attention to issues of little importance in society.
- When it comes to choosing project leaders and authors, the Foundation will look for a wide range of people, chosen on the basis of merit and competence.
- When publishing its studies and respective results, the Foundation will take the necessary precautions to ensure that research materials, study methods, sources and empirical data are accessible and available to all interested parties.
- The Foundation will use Portuguese as its language of communication and information in its publications and on its internet website, as well as English in order to communicate to a wider international audience. The information on its website will be in both Portuguese and English. The Portuguese publications will always include summaries or condensed versions in English.
What the Foundation does not do
The FFMS will not actively intervene or provide support in the provision of services in the following areas:
- Artistic creation and production
- Cultural expression
- Academic or vocational training
- Scientific research
- Studies exclusively historical in scope
Certain types of costs will not qualify for FFMS support and intervention
- General and running costs of entities and organisations
- Building construction
- Purchase of equipment and vehicles
- The hiring of premises
- The preservation of cultural or architectural heritage
- Participation in conferences and congresses
- Scholarships for technical or scientific training
- Organisation of exhibitions or museums
- Activities of a party-political nature
- Professional associations
- Investment in other companies' share capital
- Public fund-raising appeals