The Years with Elsa

Established in 2000, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation was born out of Elsa Peretti’s sense of civic duty, her desire to “give back” to society, and to address growing social and economic inequalities and planetary degradation.

From an early age, Elsa Peretti showed an artistic talent fuelled by a keen curiosity, a profound love of nature and animals, and a strong sense of empathy for those in need. At the age of 60, at the height of her extraordinary career as a jewellery designer, living for decades in deep connection with nature and animals in the Catalan village of Sant Martí Vell, Spain, Elsa Peretti fulfilled her desire to set up a charitable foundation dedicated to the memory of her father. Nando Peretti was a distinguished entrepreneur, who in 1933 founded Anonima Petroli Italiana (A.P.I.), an innovative oil enterprise for which he was awarded the “Order of Merit for Labour” by the country’s President of the Republic in recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements and commitment to improving living and working conditions in Italy.

Her father’s sense of dedication, integrity and generosity profoundly influenced Elsa Peretti as a woman and as a philanthropist. Renamed the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation in 2015, the organisation embodied Elsa Peretti’s modern sensibility in pursuit of her exquisitely unique vision of a transformative relationship between people and the planet, in which human health and well-being are based on, and depend upon, the stewardship of nature. A woman ahead of her time, Elsa Peretti had a spontaneous ecological mindset, later refined and deepened by readings and documentaries, and her many travels and encounters with different cultural traditions and indigenous peoples. As a philanthropist, she always championed the protection of the environment and its link to human welfare and human rights, seeking concrete and practical approaches where tangible results could be seen.

The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been a founder-led organisation for over 20 years. Elsa Peretti remained actively involved in the craftmanship of her philanthropy until the very end of her life, working side by side with a small and dedicated team. During its “21 years with Elsa”, the Foundation worked across diverse funding areas from Biodiversity Conservation to Education, from Human Rights to Health, from Medical Research to Arts and Culture, to pursue a broad statutory mission. This wide-ranging approach to grant-making, based on the assumption that people’s needs are diverse and multifaceted, reflected the founder’s desire to respond to calls for action and requests for support that arose from direct on-the-ground experience and solid expertise. This has enabled the Foundation to maintain its “open window on the world” and to remain flexible enough to respond swiftly to changing needs, opportunities, and emergencies.

Elsa Peretti’s vision and character remain woven into the fabric of her Foundation and continue to guide the way it works today.

“Philanthropy should be at the frontline to promote the radical
and systemic change we need."

Elsa Peretti El Punt Avui, November 2020



    Over the years, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation partnered with environmental and wildlife conservation organisations, giving grants to numerous conservation programmes and environmental education projects, as well as public awareness and advocacy campaigns. In 2005 the Foundation was among the first to support the Harapan Rainforest Initiative in Indonesia to establish a conservation forest concession protecting the rainforest in perpetuity. In Belize, through Flora and Fauna International, it supported a long-term community program for the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, to preserve the biodiversity of this wildlife corridor from the Maya Mountains to the Caribbean Sea, one of the last expanses of broadleaf forest in Central America. Support was awarded to the Centre ValBio in Madagascar, dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and the study of sustainable development in the Ranomafana National Park, where the golden bamboo lemur was first discovered in 1986. In Kenya, it helped the Gallmann Memorial Foundation protect and maintain the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy, a 100.000-acre Sanctuary and one of the most varied botanically non–forested areas in East Africa. In Congo, it sustained the Jane Goodall Institute, to ensure the well-being of orphaned chimpanzees that were confiscated by the Congolese authorities in their efforts to stop the illegal commercial bushmeat and pet trades.


    The loss of biodiversity, which occurs at an increasing rate due to the disappearance of animal and plant species, is correlated with the expansion of anthropic settlements and the subsequent environmental changes. The protection and conservation of endangered species has always been a pillar of the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. Throughout the years, the Foundation has funded many projects to defend animals and their welfare against poaching, trading, and cruel practices all over the world, for both exotic species and domestic animals. While supporting major campaigns worldwide to protect threatened species, the NaEPF has provided support during environmental catastrophes and has taken local actions to support veterinarians’ activities and animal shelters.

    The elephant has been the focus of many efforts since 2005 with the aim of improving their living conditions in India. Thanks to the partnership with Elephant Family, an NGO founded in 2002 by Mark Shand to protect the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild, the NaEPF has contributed to a peculiar project: to improve the conditions of elephants held in captivity in Jaipur for commercial purposes. Over the years, the NaEPF has built important partnerships for the protection of birds with international organisations, such as Birdlife International, and national organisations, such as the LIPU – Lega Italiana per la Protezione degli Uccelli. In Egypt, the Foundation supported Birdlife International in its fight against illegal, indiscriminate trapping of migrating birds along its Mediterranean coastline. Specific projects in the field of biodiversity conservation have also been supported at a local level with the aim of protecting migratory or endangered birds. Support was also given to the Wildlife Justice Commission against transnational organised wildlife crime.

    In 2023 the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has enhanced its commitment to ensure biodiversity and protect endangered species by supporting six projects divided between Georgia, South Sudan, Kenya, Honduras, Indonesia and Vietnam in partnership with Fauna & Flora International for a total investment of more than EUR 3 million.


    Even though the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been involved in various areas, its primary commitment has always been to promote human well-being and education, which are crucial to comprehending nature and its value. Over the years the NaEPF has supported more than 500 projects focused on human welfare, with an overall value of EUR 25 million, making this intervention area the most supported by the Foundation. This area encompasses various types of interventions, such as local activities to help the most vulnerable and the commitment to the defence of human rights, oppressed minorities, and unrepresented people, alongside promoting the rights and dignity of children and women.

    In the early years, projects to combat poverty were initiated locally, with particular attention to the Roma area, which led the Foundation to become a reference point in the social context of the most problematic areas of the city. In 2002 the Foundation co-sponsored with Associazione Sempre Insieme per la Pace the administration of a warehouse in Rome where huge supplies of foodstuff, medicines and clothing were stocked and made available, on a daily basis, to needy people. The still ongoing project represents a crucial reference point in Rome. Another still ongoing project is the assistance to families living in difficulty in the Roman suburb called Laurentino 38. Since 2003 the NaEPF supported 250 needy families in the Laurentino Fonte Ostiense neighborhood in Rome with ACISMOM Onlus (Sovereign Military Order of Malta).

    Over the years, the NaEPF also helped oppressed minorities and unrepresented people to defend their right to exist and to protect the preservation of their culture. In 2009 the Foundation started collaborating with UNPO (The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) to address threats against natural environments, languages, traditional livelihoods and the community cohesion of indigenous peoples. Through education, cultural awareness and legal rights projects for indigenous groups from Asia, the Americas, and Africa, the Foundation has been able to contribute significantly to the protection of indigenous identity in the world.


    Since its inception, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has funded various educational projects, with particular attention to girls’ schooling and education. Education is one of the main factors of change and self- development, especially for young people who live in, sometimes extreme, situations of poverty. Education is the only way these young people can escape a destiny that seems marked for them and improve, in the medium- and long-term period, not only their own lives but also the economic and social fabric of their country.

    In 2004, a small but significant project saw the support of the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation alongside Fondazione Rita Levi Montalcini to grant university scholarships in medicine to two African nuns from Madagascar. This project compelled debate in the NaEPF on how to contribute to addressing a crucial issue in less developed countries, especially Africa: the lack of access to education for almost all belonging to the female sex. In 2011 the Foundation financed another notable educational project, this time in Ethiopia, where 65 young disadvantaged women from the Wolayta region were given the opportunity to have an education, thus providing more job opportunities or a chance for further instruction.

    For the same purposes, the NaEPF also supported construction projects, such as building thirteen schools and supporting several renovations that have funded the modernisation of school facilities around the world. Among these projects, the building of the Disha Center in India, inaugurated on 12th December 2004, ensured special education, teachers training, vocational training, physiotherapy and other educational benefits to disabled children. The construction of cultural centres (Burkina Faso, 2002) and infrastructure for children and volunteers (Nepal, Poland, Afghanistan) have strengthened the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring the right to education for the most disadvantaged populations of the world.


    Supporting health promotion projects has always been a critical area of focus for the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, due to its potential to enhance community well-being. Human well-being is linked to many factors, including physical and mental health, and thus to medical research. Funding medical research contributes to the global pool of knowledge about diseases, treatments, and health systems, and creates educational and training opportunities for students and young scientists, helping to build the next generation of researchers and healthcare professionals.

    At first, the Foundation focused on specific projects that were mostly underfunded and awarded grants to research groups working on rare and incurable diseases: leukaemias and paediatric tumours, biomarker investigations of certain forms of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and rare diseases such as Takayasu arteritis and phenylketonuria. The Foundation began to support Italian Universities and Research Institutes such as Associazione per la Ricerca delle Malattie Rare (ARMR), Università Sacro Cuore in research on the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Istituto Superiore di Sanità and AIRC in research on brain tumours, Fondazione Telethon in research on spinocerebellar ataxias, and the Istituto Oncologico Europeo (IEO).

    Support was also given to assist indigent people, to provide psychological assistance to abused children, abandoned elderly, patients with terminal illnesses and their families, alongside the donation of equipment to public hospitals. For the same objectives, the Foundation has also supported more specific types of intervention, such as the building of hospitals and sanitary facilities, and renovations and extensions of infrastructures and equipment.

    The Foundation’s commitment to medical research, which counts 73 granted projects and a total investment of EUR 4.8 million, has left a trace and obtained an important acknowledgement from the Italian Republic in 2010, the “Credere nella Ricerca” prize. The commitment continues today with the recent support to Istituto Europeo di Oncologia e Centro Cardiologico Fondazione Monzino (IEO) for the research of genetic tumours and their prevention, which will last until 2026. In addition, an important partnership began in 2022 with the Max Planck Institute of Cologne; through the Peretti-Schmucker Fellowship, the research project is investigating the hydrogel-cell formulations as living biomaterials that could be used for the next-generation treatment of skin-related conditions.


    The promotion of arts and culture has always been an important objective for the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. Supporting projects that promote art and culture is not just an investment in creativity and beauty; it’s a powerful means to foster social cohesion, education, and personal development within communities.

    The NaEPF has financed many art and culture projects, more than 100 for almost EUR 3 million. These projects aim to support emerging artists, designers and musicians all over the world by granting them scholarships or exhibition support, in addition to contributing to the restoration of artworks and churches. Music is another art in which the Foundation has become involved. Since 2008 the NaEPF has supported the Georg Solti Accademia through the so-called “Solti-Peretti Répetitéurs course” where every year 6 répétiteurs are selected to take part in masterclasses that offer an intense period of study with some of the finest repetiteurs of our day. Another exceptional project, “Bassifondi Musicali, a Baroque Popular Music Concert” has facilitated the revival of early Italian Baroque music in a concert performance.


    • A-Z Children Ltd T/A Nurture Africa
    • ACISMOM – Associazione dei Cavalieri Italiani del
      Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta
    • AIRC – Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro
    • Amref Health Africa Onlus
    • ARMR – Associazione per la Ricerca delle Malattie
    • Asociaciòn “Centro Virgen Nina”- E.P.D.B.
    • Associació Intercultural Diàlegs De Dones
    • Associazione 21 luglio E.T.S
    • Associazione Nove Onlus
    • Associazione Pianoterra ETS
    • Associazione Special Olympics Italia onlus
    • BirdLife International
    • Consorci Sanitari del Maresme
    • CUAMM Medici con l’Africa
    • elephant family
    • Disha Foundation – Center for special education,
      vocational training and rehabilitation
    • Euronatur – Stiftung Europäisches Naturerbe
    • Fauna & Flora International
    • Fondation Georg Solti Accademia
    • Fondation Suisse de la Chaîne du Bonheur / Swiss
    • Fondazione Accademia d’Arti e Mestieri dello
      Spettacolo Teatro alla Scala
    • Fondazione Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
    • Fondazione Adriano Olivetti
    • Fondazione Ermitage Italia
    • Fondazione Istituto Europeo di Oncologia e Centro
      Cardiologico Fondazione Monzino
    • ETS
    • Fondazione Pastificio Cerere
    • Fondazione Rita Levi-Montalcini Onlus
    • Fondazione Umberto Veronesi
    • Foundation Open Hand (Swisshand)
    • Fundació Privada Güell
    • Fundació Privada Pere Closa per a la Formació i la
      Promoció dels Gitanos a Catalunya
    • Fundación Menudos Corazones
    • Fundacion Proa (Pro-Activa Open Arms)
    • Geologos del mundo
    • Human Rights Watch
    • Humane Society International-Europe
    • Intersos, Organizzazione Umanitaria Onlus
    • Istituto Superiore di Sanità
    • IUCN – The World Conservation European Regional
    • Jane Goodall Institute – Italia
    • Light for the World International
    • L’Accoglienza Società Cooperativa Sociale Onlus
    • LIPU – Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli Odv
    • Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der
      Wissenschaften e.V.
    • Médecins Sans Frontières (Switzerland and Italy)
    • Museu Nacional d’Art De Catalunya (MNAC)
    • Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston
    • Museum of the City of New York
    • Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù (OPBG)
    • Paris Audiovisuel – La Maison Européenne de la
    • Associazione Progetto Rwanda Onlus
    • Survival International Charitable Trust
    • The Gallmann Memorial Foundation
    • The Miami Fashion Foundation, Inc.
    • UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for
      Refugees • UNICEF’s Italian National Committee
    • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
    • UNPO – Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
    • With Love Halston Inc.

"I wanted a foundation with a very broad statute. Every year we
welcome and evaluate educational, cultural and artistic, medical
research, environmental conservation and human rights projects.
I wanted to keep a window open to the world, a very large one,
to understand what is happening and how to do my part."

Elsa Peretti Gazzetta di Parma, September 2020