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15 May 2018

Digital in Afrika

Digitised agriculture in Uganda, legal aid for traders in Kenya or training of software engineers in Tunisia – young people are successfully breaking new ground. Read more

Schüler der SOS Kinderdörfer
© SOS Children’s Villages International
Pupils of SOS Children’s Villages

14 May 2018

Taking as many children as possible into the digital age

Digitisation + children in Africa = a self-determined future. The Hermann Gmeiner Foundation has played a major role in this through its grants to SOS Children’s Villages. Read more

9 March 2018

Ranking Nonsense

Everybody loves rankings. Let's admit it, they attract clicks like photos of cats. A few days ago, I followed the clickbait to a ranking of the world's largest foundations. Amoung them: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more

18 February 2018

Rainbow philanthropy

Talking about the rights of the LGBTI community is talking about citizens' rights. Secretary General Felix Oldenburg comments on why philanthropy should pay attention to LGBTI issues. Read more

 

Press releases

Brussels, 24 May 2018. The philanthropy sector and policymakers will gather on 28 May in Brussels for the first-ever “Philanthropy Scrum”, a high-level exchange focusing on identifying the challenges for philanthropy across Europe and co-creating solutions for a single market for philanthropy. The event is organised by Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), The European Foundation Centre (EFC) and the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).

The European philanthropy sector contributes €60 billion annually within civil society. While commercial entities can operate across all EU Member States in a single market, philanthropy organisations face significant barriers if they go beyond their state’s borders (DAFNE Survey 2016). The lack of cohesion resulting from the fact that there is no real single market for philanthropy in Europe is a major stumbling block, which leads to an estimated annual loss for civil society of €100 million (2018 DAFNE/EFC study “Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy”). The Philanthropy Scrum aims to explore possible solutions to these challenges (www.philanthropyscrum.eu).

The event will also be hosting many distinguished speakers including Filipe Almeida, President of the Board Portugal Inovação Social; Luc Tayart de Borms, Managing Director King Baudouin Foundation; Madeleine Clarke, Founding Director of Genio and EVPA Chair; Massimo Lapucci, EFC Chair and Secretary General of Fondazione CRT; Malcolm Hayday, CEO Charity Bank Limited; Jane Newman, International Director of Social Finance UK and EVPA Board Member; Felix Oldenburg, General Secretary of Associaton of German Foundations and DAFNE Chair; Eva Sobotka, Head of Sector Cooperation and Consultation Fundamental Rights Promotion Department, The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; Paul Nemitz, Principle Adviser at DG Justice, European Commission; Carlos Trias, Vice-President Group III, European Economic and Social Committee; and Rien van Gendt, Van Gendt Philanthropy Services.

Felix Oldenburg, DAFNE Chair: “There is a single market for goods and services in the EU, yet donations and civic engagement far too often stop at national borders as they continuously face major cross-border restrictions. This prevents the multibillion euro European foundation sector from unfolding its full potential to contribute to the public good.“

Massimo Lapucci, EFC Chair: “It is time for a single market ‘without borders’ for philanthropy, to help the sector to do what it does best: improve the quality of people’s daily lives, generate positive impact and momentum, and promote more active citizenship with common good at its core. This is the way to bring citizens closer to the institutions and enable philanthropy to be the strongest possible social ‘glue’ supporting the principles of democracy, equality, freedom and pluralism”.

Madeleine Clarke, EVPA Chair: “Sustainable change is not an isolated action. It requires an understanding of the complexities and challenges involved in creating impact. “Philanthropy Scrum” is the first step by DAFNE, EFC, and EVPA to bring together a variety of actors that can achieve what no organisation can secure alone and build solutions across Europe to better finance impact.” 

The event will feature 12 world café sessions, each covering the most prominent topics of philanthropy such as: cross-border philanthropic activity; EU spectrum for action to support philanthropic and wider civil society space; VAT reform and impact on the sector; matching philanthropic investments with EU financial tools; role of foundations in impact investing, and EU funding instruments to develop the social investment ecosystem.

  • Joachim Rogall (Robert Bosch Foundation) and Daniela Kobelt Neuhaus (Karl Kübel Foundation for Child and Family) take over the chairmanship of the newly elected board
  • Revision of the Principles of Good Foundation Practice announced
  • Michael Göring (ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius) retires after 20 years on the board and committees

Nuremberg, 17 May 2018. The members of the Association of German Foundations elected their new board of directors today. The six-member committee is chaired by Prof. Dr. Joachim Rogall, Chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch Foundation, Stuttgart. Daniela Kobelt Neuhaus, Chairman of the Karl Kübel Foundation for Child and Family, Bensheim, becomes Vice Chairwoman. In his inaugural speech, Rogall pointed out the increasing restrictions on foundations’ work: “We observe that the scope for action of independent organisations worldwide, even in Europe, is shrinking. Foundations that promote civic engagement and liberal-democratic ideas are under the critical observation of those authorities that claim to define freedom and democracy on their own.” Rogall therefore demanded: “We must look beyond our foundation world and our national networks and broaden our international perspective.” The new Chairman of the Board announced that he would revise the Principles of Good Foundation Practice together with the members, and expand them to include aspects such as international cooperation, the impact of foundation assets and digitisation.

Daniela Kobelt Neuhaus, newly elected Vice-Chairwoman, looked to next year's German Foundation Day: “The focus in 2019 will be on how foundations can support our democratic community. It is about our role as promoters of democracy and our commitment to human rights, diversity and tolerance. But it is also about our own internal understanding of democracy: how participatory, diverse and transparent are foundations themselves?”

Prof. Dr. Michael Göring, Chairman of the Board of ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, retires after 20 years on the committees of the Association. As a farewell he said to the foundations: “I am deeply impressed by how our foundations have accompanied the arrival and continuing presence of refugees since 2015. This reflects the core competence of foundations: to stand up flexibly, humanely and unbureaucratically for a peaceful and free coexistence. Respect!”

Event organiser: Association of German Foundations

The Association of German Foundations represents the interests of foundations in Germany. It has more than 4,300 members and 8,400 foundations are affiliated to it via foundation administrations. This means that around three quarters of German foundations are organised in the Association of German Foundations, making it the largest, and indeed oldest, foundation association in Europe and the recognised leading competence centre for foundations.

  • Association of German Foundations honours founder Ise Bosch with the German Founder’s Prize 2018
  • Not just since #metoo: Over 20 years of commitment to human rights, sexual self-determination of girls and women, and for gender and sexual diversity worldwide
  • Actress Gudrun Landgrebe gives laudatory speech at the commemorative event for German Foundations Day 2018

Nuremberg, 16 May 2018. “Ise Bosch is a woman who, in her commitments, does not decide or talk for and about others, but with them; who lets the people who are part of the issue at hand have their say. Today we are sending out a clear signal – by awarding the Female Founder’s Prize to Ise Bosch. It is going to a female philanthropist in the truest sense of the word: a female philanthropist who is concerned with change for people – who is concerned, not about them, but with them,“ said actress Gudrun Landgrebe in her laudation for the German Founder's Prize 2018. This was awarded to Ise Bosch today.

The Association of German Foundations honours the founder and donation activist for her many years of commitment to human rights, the improvement of the living conditions of girls and women, and the protection of sexual minorities. These are topics that have been the focus of Ise Bosch's engagement for more than 20 years, not just since the #metoo debate.

“I feel the prize is an outstretched hand. Not only for me, who is logically part of the German philanthropy scene, so to speak, but also for my topics: international commitment, human rights, and the topic of gender diversity,” said the prize winner Ise Bosch in her acceptance speech. And further:

“Many minorities are discriminated against, but in general it is considered that this is not ok. The right of sexual and sexual minorities to live normal lives is, however, repeatedly questioned. In most places in the world this means open hatred, constant stress, manhunt.”

Ise Bosch: founder, patron and donation activist

Ise Bosch is committed to social change. In 1996, she became the founder of the International Fund for Sexual Minorities at the Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation, New York. In 2000, Ise Bosch founded the Pecunia Erbinnen-Netzwerk together with other heiresses. As a co-founder of filia.die frauenstiftung in Hamburg, Ise Bosch is committed to the participation and non-violent life of girls and women. Dreilinden Gesellschaft für gemeinnütziges Privatkapital mbH, which was founded by her, promotes the social acceptance of gender and sexual diversity. It implements this through project funding and social investment.

Ise Bosch is the granddaughter of Robert Bosch, founder of Robert Bosch GmbH and also a founder of a foundation. She sold her shares in her grandfather’s company to go her own philanthropic way. Through her book Donating Better, she has sought to motivate other wealthy people to give for social change and to find the right commitment strategy for them. In May 2018, Ise Bosch published her latest book Giving with Trust – How Philanthropy becomes Transformative in collaboration with Justus Eisfeld and Claudia Bollwinkel. In this book, they ask how money and the privileges associated with it can be used in such a way that far-reaching social change is possible, and how, even in the face of unequal power relations, people can work together more trustingly.

About the award ceremony

Around 2,000 guests, including luminaries such as Prof. Dr. Michael Göring, Chairman of the Board of the Association of German Foundations, and the Bavarian State Minister of Justice, Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, took part in the award ceremony in the Nuremberg Frankenhalle.

German Founder’s Prize

The German Founder’s Prize of the Association of German Foundations is considered the highest award in the field of foundations. The glass stele was awarded for the first time in 1994, and so far 19 times, most recently to Gabriele Quandt and Florian Langenscheidt, of the Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main, and Jenny De la Torre Castro. The prize is not endowed.

German Foundations Day

German Foundations Day is the largest Foundations Congress in Europe. This year, about 2,000 representatives of foundations as well as guests from business, politics and society will gather in Nuremberg from 16 to 18 May. The topic of this year’s congress is: “Update! Foundations and Digitisation”. German Foundations Day 2018 is supported by 16 foundations and organisations from all across Germany, as well as a number of supporting partners.

Price sponsor: Association of German Foundations

The Association of German Foundations represents the interests of the foundations in Germany. It has more than 4,300 members; 8,400 foundations are affiliated to it via foundation administrations. This means that around three quarters of German foundations are organised in the Association of German Foundations, making it the largest, and indeed oldest, foundation association in Europe and the recognised leading competence centre for foundations.

  • Appeal to politicians: Make the foundation law fit for the future
  • Appeal to founders: "We mustn't take ourselves so seriously!"
  • Appeal to foundations: Widen your instrument case 

Nueremberg, 16 May 2018. German Foundations Day starts with an appeal to the German govern-ment to ensure the foundation law is fit for the future. Association Chairman Prof. Dr. Michael Gö-ring said at the start of the largest foundation meeting in Europe: “Foundations are on their move into the next generation. What is still missing is a foundation law that allows them to adapt their work flexibly to digital change, a volatile capital market and complex global problems.” In concrete terms, the Association of German Foundations calls for liability relief in asset investment so that foundations can use more forms of investment, make amendments to their articles of association possible, and make it easier to add and merge foundations.

The next generation of donating and founders

The association is preparing itself for the next generation of donating and founders. One example of this is the award of the German Founders Prize to the philanthropist Ise Bosch. As the highlight of German Foundations Day, a woman will be honoured who, in addition to the classical founda-tion, uses many other forms of philanthropy for her concerns. Ise Bosch sees herself as a donation activist rather than as a patron. Diversity and tolerance for people with different sexual and gender orientations form the core of her commitment. Ise Bosch: "My support is intended to stimulate sustainable social change. Social change brings about a qualitative improvement for the work on the ground as well as for the donors. We as givers must be willing to learn and take ourselves less seriously."

Felix Oldenburg: “The next generation donates differently. Foundations must become even more attractive as places for young entrepreneurs or heirs. We are facing a foundation gap: in terms of the relation of the total assets of the foundations to Germany’s gross domestic product, we are only in the middle range worldwide.” The aim of the Next Philanthropy initiative is to make the dif-ferent and new forms of philanthropy attractive, to explore new opportunities for the work of the foundations through digital change, and to open up new target groups.

"Update! Foundations and Digitisation" – German Foundations Day

This year, German Foundations Day has more than 130 events under the motto “Update! Founda-tions and Digitisation”. On Wednesday, Rainbow philanthropist Ise Bosch receives the German Founder's Prize. The actress Gudrun Landgrebe will give the laudation.

German Foundations Day 2018 is supported by 16 foundations and organisations from all over Germany and a number of supporting partners.

Foundations in Germany

There are 22,274 foundations in Germany. 549 foundations under civil law with a legal capacity re-ceived their certificate of recognition in 2017. The foundation's growth rate is 2.1 percent in 2017. For every 100,000 inhabitants there are 27 foundations in Germany. Most foundations deal with the topics of society (52 percent), education (35 percent) and art and culture (32 percent). The known capital of foundations of all legal forms is 68 billion euros.

Event organiser: Association of German Foundations

The Association of German Foundations represents the interests of the foundations in Ger-many. It has more than 4,300 members; 8,400 foundations are affiliated to it via foundation administrations. This means that around three quarters of German foundations are organised in the Association of German Foundations, making it the largest, and indeed oldest, foundation association in Europe and the recognised leading competence centre for foundations. 

  • The Association of German Foundations has submitted current figures about foundations and admonishes: foundation law lags behind actual developments
  • Greater transparency: a national register of foundations must be put on the political agenda now
  • Foundations registered 2.1 per cent growth in 2017
  • Foundations tread new paths in capital investment

Berlin, 20 March 2018. The number of foundations in Germany grew by 549 new establishments to 22,274 in the past year. The Association of German Foundations announced this figure in Berlin today. “Foundation growth by 2.1 per cent clearly shows: donating remains one of the most successful models for sustainably engaging on behalf of society. Foundation work is ubiquitous: for instance, foundations sustain about 150 hospitals and 270 museums and cultivate at least 154,000 hectares of nature conservation area. Just like venture capital in business, foundations work at a crucial place in the system”, says Prof. Michael Göring, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Association of German Foundations.

The most active group of companies in Germany in terms of foundation work are the German Savings Banks Finance Group – the Sparkassen. The number of savings bank foundations increased by seven last year and currently stands at 745. Savings bank foundations distributed about EUR 75.5 million in 2017. Says Dr Heike Kramer, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Event Management at the German Savings Bank Association: “With a total volume of EUR 2.6 billion, Savings Banks Finance Group foundations are indispensable sponsors of culture, sport and social affairs in the different regions and in rural areas. However, our endowment capital is jeopardized, too. Considering the low interest rates and the value-based engagement of the savings bank foundations, the strategic optimisation of our investments is our number one priority. In this respect it is important to discuss modern forms of investment.”

Secretary General Felix Oldenburg also holds that politics is called upon to take action: “If returns on investment continue to decline, many ideas and engaged individuals will be without support. And the increasing bureaucracy is making life difficult for those engaged in foundations, too. For this reason we expect the new federal government to carry out the long overdue foundation law reform quickly – as announced in the coalition agreement. The goal must be not less but more foundation work. We will be able to enlist the next generation only with flexible and modern methods.”

Take, for example, the IOTA Foundation, established in autumn 2017 in Berlin. It is the first foundation in Germany which is based on a crypto currency. Additionally the sponsors have chosen the rare form of the hybrid foundation, part of whose capital may be used for the foundation’s purpose.

Felix Oldenburg comments: “After all, start-up founders are the sponsors and donors of tomorrow. And foundations are the start-ups, the innovators, of the civil society. The amount of EUR 4.3 billion in the foundations’ annual expenditures alone of which the Association is aware equals the amount of venture capital that was invested in start-ups in 2017.”

Foundation growth at 2.1 per cent

A total of 549 civil law foundations vested with legal capacity received their certificate of approval in 2017. During the same period 75 foundations were dissolved, consolidated or combined with other foundations. The total number of foundations in Germany increased to 22,274 (2016: 21,806). The growth rate stands at 2.1 per cent (2016: 2.4 per cent). Germany-wide there are 27 foundations per 100,000 residents. A number of foundation monitoring agencies have reported to the Association of Germany Foundations an increasing demand for limited-term trusts as well as consolidations and mergers of foundations.

A look at the different German states

In absolute figures, the most population-rich German state, North Rhine-Westphalia, once again showed the strongest increase in foundations with 123 new establishments. NRW also continues to be in first place in terms of overall number of foundations: a total of 4,370 civil law foundations vested with legal capacity are domiciled there. Bavaria is second with 3,997 foundations, followed by Baden-Württemberg with 3,329 foundations. With 547 foundations Saxony is the federal state with the most foundations in East Germany, and it also reports the largest foundation growth rate with 3.6 per cent.

Measured in terms of population size, the city states Hamburg (78 foundations per 100,000 residents) and Bremen (49) as well as the large states of Hesse (33), Bavaria (31) and Baden-Württemberg (30) show the greatest density of foundations among the federal states. The foundation capital city in terms of number of inhabitants remains Würzburg. It has 94 foundations per 100,000 residents and is followed by Oldenburg with 81, Frankfurt am Main with 79 and Hamburg with 78 foundations.

Foundation reform: a register of foundations, greater flexibility and limited liability are the Association’s top demands

Interest rates are low, but demands on flexible foundation work are very tough. Yet foundation law still makes it difficult to change a foundation’s statutes – even those that aim at complying with the founder’s purpose. This must be facilitated, as must be the possibility of a reorganization or merger. The capital market environment is difficult and forecasts are often uncertain: those who manage endowment capital properly and conscientiously should be excluded from liability. We still have no nationally uniform register of foundations which enables foundation representatives to legitimize themselves in legal dealings – and which is more transparent in informing the public about foundations and their bodies. Such a register must be put on the political agenda now. Foundations demand this, too: 73.2 per cent of the foundations surveyed by the foundation panel of the Association of German Foundations (n = 246) favour the establishment of a nationally uniform register of foundations with a publicity effect.

The final proposals on the foundation reform will be presented at the Conference of the Ministers of the Interior in early June 2018.

Further information

Standard diagrams

Brussels, 16 January 2018 – Today the Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC) are launching the commissioned study “Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy”, by Oonagh Breen, Professor of Law at UCD Sutherland School of Law.

Spending every year more than 60 billion EUR in public good such as education, health, science, environment, migration and integration, the philanthropy sector is a key pillar of European civil society. It helps address society’s most pressing questions, and furthermore promotes plurality and freedom as well as financing social innovation. But the operating environment for institutional philanthropy in parts of Europe is under threat: i.e., foreign funding restrictions, inconsistent cross-border philanthropy taxation schemes, harmful impacts of too rigid anti-terrorism/money laundering measures, and these are jeopardising the essential work of more than 140,000 European donors and foundations.

DAFNE and the EFC, Europe’s leading voices of the philanthropic sector, demand a level playing field for institutional philanthropy in Europe.

Massimo Lapucci, Chairman of the EFC and Secretary General of the Italian foundation Fondazione CRT, states: “EU treaties have hindered the development of appropriate legal vehicles to advance philanthropy on a pan-European basis. This DAFNE/EFC study offers possible ways to facilitate philanthropy across Europe.”

The study stresses key dilemmas and solutions

  • Philanthropy remains largely outside the European treaties. Its recognition in the treaties and in European fundamental rights is needed.
  • Barriers to cross-border philanthropy pose a major challenge. While the freedom of capital movement prohibits foreign funding restrictions, Europe needs to move towards a European public benefit concept, non-discriminatory tax regimes and simplifying tax authority practices and providing for more information sharing tools.
  • National laws must be in line with European fundamental rights and EU freedoms. While the philanthropic sector uses existing protection mechanisms (e.g., via EU Treaty infringement procedures) it may be necessary to examine if these are sufficient.
  • EU and national efforts to counter-terrorism financing, money laundering and tax evasion, which are intended to protect the sector must be risk-based, proportionate and evidence-based. In addition, the sector and policymakers should work jointly to assess and address risks.

"Arbitrary and discriminating regulations, which prevent cross-border philanthropy, must disappear", comments Felix Oldenburg, Chairman of DAFNE and General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations. “There is a single market for goods and services in the EU, yet donations and civic engagement far too often stop at national borders as they continuously facemajor cross-border restrictions. This prevents the multibillion euro European foundation sector from unfolding its full potential to contribute to the public good.“

The EFC and DAFNE will use the learnings of this study to kick-off joint advocacy work for Europe’s philanthropic sector with the aim to maintain and develop the space for philanthropy across Europe and its positive impact on civil society. A new momentum is expected on May 28th when the sector will engage with policy makers on different pathway scenarios during an interactive event in Brussels. Interested press can ask to be invited.

About DAFNE

DAFNE is Europe’s largest network of donors and foundations associations. With 25 member associations with a collective membership of more than 10,000 foundations and grant-makers, DAFNE is a leading voice of European foundations. It underpins individual activities of its members by encouraging dialogue and collaboration between the national associations. DAFNE is currently chaired by Felix Oldenburg, General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations. He is supported by a Steering Committee comprising Magdalena Pekacka – Polish Donors Forum, Beate Eckhardt – SwissFoundations, and Beatrice de Durfort– Centre Français des Fonds et Fondations.

Contact: Max von Abendroth, DAFNE Executive Director, max.abendroth@dafne-online.eu

About the EFC

The European Foundation Centre (EFC) is the platform of institutional philanthropy with a focus on Europe, but also with an eye to the global philanthropic landscape. It is a network of foundations and philanthropic institutions committed to the development and promotion of institutional philanthropy in Europe and globally. With the aim of being the voice of institutional philanthropy in Europe, the EFC promotes and communicates the value of institutional philanthropy to society thus contributing to an environment in which philanthropy can flourish. It serves as a hub of sector exchange and intelligence, to help its members increase the impact of their added value in society. The current chairman of the EFC is Massimo Lapucci from Fondazione CRT. 

Contact: Catherine Lennon, EFC Communications Director, clennon@efc.be

Berlin, 17.08.2017 - Little is known as yet about the work German foundations carry out in the field of development cooperation. The newly published FoundationReport by the Association of German Foundations offers numerous facts and figures, good-practice examples and opinions concerning the engagement of German foundations abroad. The report shows: 1,766 German foundations of all legal forms have a connection to development cooperation or global learning. The Association of German Foundations is further more aware of 458 trustee foundations which deal with development cooperation. 70 per cent of foundations in cooperation development have a connection to the African continent, 60 per cent are active in Asia, while around 57 per cent are engaged in Southern and Middle America (n=1.331).

The report reveals that foundations are becoming more important actors in international development. They serve as initiators, networkers, financial pillars, project carriers and mediums for innovation. Often they can provide help in regions and areas which are inaccessible to others, without any red tape. They are in direct contact with the local population and sometimes have an excellent reputation and high credibility thanks to their many years of local work.

The free of charge publication is available as a 134 page book in German language and as a digital summary edition in English. The report discusses the challenges have tackled and what other foundations can learn from this. Altogether more than 80 German foundations and their projects or methodological approaches are mentioned. The report is available here.

The Association of German Foundations
As an independent umbrella organization, the Association of German Foundations represents the interests of foundations located in Germany. The largest European association of foundations has more than 4,000 members, with 7,000 foundations enjoying membership rights through foundation administrations. Consequently, the umbrella organization represents about three quarters of the assets of all German foundations amounting to over 100 billion euros.

Nationwide 583 new foundations / At present, there are 21,301 foundations in Germany / Commitment to refugees has expanded

Berlin, 23 February 2016

Donating is still en vogue. In 2015, 583 legally responsible foundations under civil law were newly founded. The number of foundations in Germany raised to 21.301 as the Association of German Foundations communicated at its annual press conference in Berlin. That’s 26 foundations per 100,000 citizens. With a national growth rate of about 2.5 percent on average, the East is pushing forward dynamically with growth rates of 5.8 percent in Thuringia and 4.5 percent in Saxony. Compared to previous years, the number of newly founded private law foundations with legal capacity has slightly decreased in Germany. One reason may be the growing popularity of dependent foundations, which are not recorded statistically. If financial assets are limited, supervisory boards and the Association of German Foundations recommend this alternative. In 2015, a total of 61 foundations were dissolved.

"11 new foundations each week – that’s good news from civil society because at present civic commitment is more urgently needed than ever. We welcome the high growth rates in some states in Eastern Germany as a good sign," says Prof. Dr. Michael Göring, President of the Board of Directors of the Association of German Foundations. "Even if the absolute number of foundations is still much lower than in the West German federal states, some eastern states are starting to catch up as both increased economic strength and growing civic commitment demonstrate."

Foundations provide refugee aid
A few new foundations founded last year explicitly focus their work on the new challenges of integrating immigrants and maintaining social cohesion. Some existing foundations also cooperated last year to demonstrate their strength with regard to theses issues. In Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and other cities, coordinated action plays a vital role. "Foundations and associations have a long history of developing initiatives together with business and political partners that help train and integrate people," explains Birgit Radow, Vice General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations. "Foundations enjoy an excellent reputation and are thus able to bring together a host of different actors. That’s why they often serve as initiators of local round tables," says Radow.
The latest example of successful networking to provide refugee aid is a twinning program called "Menschen stärken Menschen" ("People empower people") recently launched by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The Association of German Foundations will participate in the program, which aims at organizing 2,000 partnerships and providing guidance with the help of community foundations.

Challenges in 2016
Low interest rates continue to pose a great challenge to smaller foundations in particular: "Many foundations counter plummeting interest income by devising creative fundraising strategies," Birgit Radow explains. "Other foundations, irrespective of their size, increasingly also think about how special forms of investments, e.g. mission investing or social impact, can help social enterprises and projects get started in order to be able to permanently strengthen civil society despite low interest rates."

Taking a look at Germany’s federal states
With 117 newly founded foundations, North Rhine-Westphalia, the most densely populated state, once again enjoyed the biggest growth in foundations in terms of absolute numbers. In absolute numbers, North Rhine-Westphalia has the lead with 4,159 private law foundations with legal capacity headquartered there. Bavaria comes second (3,845 foundations), followed by Baden-Württemberg with 3,187 foundations. With a total of 509 foundations, Saxony is the East German leader. In view of the number of inhabitants, the city states of Hamburg (78 foundations per 100,000 inhabitants) and Bremen (50) as well as large states such as Hesse (31), Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (30) take the lead in terms of foundation density. In relation to its number of inhabitants, the city of Würzburg remains the capital of foundations with 92 foundations per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Hamburg and Oldenburg with 78 foundations each and Frankfurt with 77.

The Association of German Foundations
As an independent umbrella organization, the Association of German Foundations represents the interests of foundations located in Germany. The largest European association of foundations has more than 4,000 members, with 7,000 foundations enjoying membership rights through foundation administrations. Consequently, the umbrella organization represents about three quarters of the assets of all German foundations amounting to over 100 billion euros.

  • As of January 2016, the European Community Foundation Initiative will function as a new resource for community foundations
  • Its mission is to found and support umbrella organisations for community foundations in Europe.
  • The initiative will be headed by foundation manager Anja Böllhoff (47)


Berlin, 17 December 2015

The European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI) is being launched in January 2016. As an umbrella initiative for community foundations it will be active throughout Europe, working to consolidate the loose network of community foundations in the Europe. It is conceived as a long-term project and has been allocated a budget of almost a half million euros for the first two years and is financed by a number of foundations, including the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation based in the U.S., the Robert Bosch Foundation and the Körber Foundation.

In its initial phase, ECFI will strengthen community foundations in Europe by providing support for existing umbrella organisations in their respective countries. ECFI will encourage the founding of such organisations in countries where none such institutions exist. As demonstrated by national networks such as the Community Foundation Initiative in Germany and UK Community Foundations in Great Britain, these types of umbrella organizations are well-suited to promote the quantitative and qualitative development of community foundations.

Prof. Dr. Hans Fleisch, Secretary General of the Association of German Foundations underscores the transnational nature of the project: "As foundations created for citizens by citizens, the community foundations of many European countries are evidence of a strong and engaged civil society. National community foundation movements are now becoming part of a network through ECFI and they thereby gain the potential to learn from one another, and become better established in a national context. The concept of the community foundation thus committed to overcoming borders at a time when they are being reinstated everywhere."

Ulrike Reichert, Director of the Community Foundation team within the Federal Association of German Foundations adds:"It is significant that ECFI will now finally provide the civil society movement of the community foundations with a central contact point in Europe."

ECFI will serve as a primary advisory organisation for community foundations in Europe. In addition, ECFI will gather information on the dedicated work of community foundations in order to better represent their interests on a European level. Other services provided by ECFI will include organising study tours, so that individuals active in community foundations can learn from the experience gained in other countries. Every two years a European conference of community foundations is to be organised in Great Britain.

The project will be headed by Anja Böllhoff, former chairperson of the Bielefeld Community Foundation, who served in a voluntary capacity as a longstanding Community Foundation embassadors of the Community Foundation Initiative.

The European project is administered under the aegis of the Federal Association of German Foundations. Cooperation partners are the UK Community Foundations and the Slovakian Centre for Philanthropy.

Community Foundations in Germany and Europe
There are some 300 certified community foundations in Germany today. This is a success story for civil society. The first community foundation was established only twenty years ago in Gütersloh. As a whole, community foundations hold some 305 million euros in assets and are maintained by some 27,400 citizen donors. There are an estimated 650 community foundations throughout Europe.

The Association of German Foundations and the Community Foundation Initiative
As an independent umbrella organisation, the Association of German Foundations represents the interests of foundations in Germany. As the largest association of foundations in Europe, it has over 4,000 members.

The Community Foundation Initiative is an independent competence centre for all issues related to community foundations. With offices located within the Association of German Foundations, the initiative provides information and consultancy to community foundations and foundation initiatives. In addition, it provides support in strategic development to community foundations.

For additional press information, visit the www.communityfoundations.eu.

Anke Pätsch

Director International Relations

Phone +49 (0) 30 89 79 47-27