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Timon Kronenberg


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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.


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,

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,

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

Martin Speer

Press Spokesperson

Phone +49 (0) 30 89 79 47-77