Number of German foundations exceeds 25,000 for the first time

  • 693 foundations were established in Germany in 2022
  • This corresponds to an increase of 2.5 percent 
  • It brings the number of German foundations to 25,254

Berlin, 10 May 2023. 693 new foundations were established in 2022. This brings the number of foundations with legal status according to civil law to 25,254. The foundation sector in Germany thus grew by 2.5 percent (2021: 3.2 percent), meaning there are currently 30.3 foundations on average for every 100,000 German citizens.  

Kirsten Hommelhoff, secretary-general of the Association of German Foundations:  
“We at the Association of German Foundations are delighted that the foundation sector in Germany is continuing to grow and that the number of foundations has exceeded the 25,000 mark for the first time. The Association is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and we are pleased that we – as the organization that represents the interests of foundations in Germany – have been able to play our part in this success story for many decades.” 

Currently, roughly 80 percent of foundations are set up during the founder’s lifetime, meaning that only 20 percent of foundations are established by will. In the early 2000s, the proportion of testamentary foundations was somewhat lower at approx. 15 percent; historically, it has been significantly higher at over 30 percent.  

Tax-privileged and taxable status

Around 90 percent of foundations with legal status according to civil law have tax-privileged status - based on the foundation’s purpose according to the database of the Association of German Foundations. All non-profit foundations have tax-privileged status, while corporate foundations for example are among those that are subject to tax. Though not charitable, the latter can nonetheless be oriented towards the common good. In recent years we have seen an above-average rise in taxable foundations in particular – of the 693 new foundations established in 2022, 384 have tax-privileged status, while 309 are subject to tax.  

East-west divide

As per 31.12.2022, there were a total of 25,254 foundations with legal status according to civil law in Germany. 22,364 of these are based in the western states (discounting Berlin). There are 1,833 foundations in the eastern part of Germany (discounting Berlin). The gap is due in part to the different population sizes and associated economic power, incomes and wealth, though there are also historical reasons for it. 

More information about foundations in eastern and western Germany can be found at:

Federal states with the most foundations

North Rhine-Westphalia is home to the largest number of foundations (4,885). With 4,418 foundations, Bavaria is in second place, while Baden-Württemberg is in third place with 3,665 foundations.

However, if the density of foundations is considered, that is to say the ratio of foundations to the number of people who live there, it is clear that Hamburg continues to lead the field, with 80 foundations for every 100,000 inhabitants. On this basis, Bremen ranks second (with 51 foundations per 100,000 inhabitants) and Hesse third (with 43 foundations for every 100,000 inhabitants). The lowest density of foundations is to be found in two states in eastern Germany: Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania each have 11 foundations per 100,000 inhabitants. The low number of foundations in the eastern German states is testimony to the fact that the east German foundation sector has yet to catch up with its counterpart in the west. 

Highest number of new foundations in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria  

Hesse was the federal state that saw the highest number of new foundations in 2022, namely 164. This constitutes net growth of 5.9 percent. North Rhine-Westphalia was the number two in terms of foundation growth, with 105 new foundations (net growth of 1.9 percent). With 91 new foundations, Bavaria achieved third place (net growth of 1.9 percent). 

Rural districts and self-governing towns with the most non-profit (tax-privileged) foundations

Schweinfurt is the front-runner in the ranking of rural districts and self-governing towns (with 94 non-profit foundations/100,000 inhabitants), followed by Würzburg in Lower Franconia (with 91 non-profit foundations/100,000 inhabitants). A glance at the map reveals large concentrations in central, western and southern Germany, while in the north and east of the country none or hardly any of the 30 leading rural districts and towns are represented. With 48 non-profit foundations/100,000 inhabitants, Weimar for example is the only town/rural district in the eastern German states. It appears that medium-sized or large cities are represented with above-average frequency.

Social affairs, art, culture and education are the main fields of activity for foundations

According to their statutes, nearly half of all foundations pursue activities in the social domain, running for example social institutions or supporting disadvantaged groups. A third of foundations are active in the area of education, while just shy of 30 percent of foundations pursue activities in the field of art and culture.    

dpm – stiftung für seelische gesundheit, Ingelheim 
By educating and providing information, the foundation wants to help remove the taboos surrounding psychological problems and destigmatize those who suffer from depression. 

An Deiner Seite – Gerhard und Gertrud Schmieder Stiftung, Herrsching 
The foundation supports caregiving relatives and seeks to improve the lives of those who require care and those who provide it. 

Bürger*innen-Stiftung Heusenstamm, Heusenstamm 
The foundation funds projects in the areas of conservation, environmental and climate protection, social affairs and culture that are run by citizens or initiated by the town of Heusenstamm. 

Peter-Kalthoff-Stiftung, Kürten 
The foundation works with children and young people in Kürten and is committed to fighting old-age poverty. Particular emphasis is placed on funding affordable housing. 

German Tech Foundation, Frankfurt am Main 
The foundation funds science, research and education in entrepreneurship and sustainability through technology. 

Fahrrad Neumann Stiftung, Zingst 
The founder Jörg Neumann wants to help those children and young people who are often neglected in our society and pave the way for them to improve their lives.  
Fahrrad Neumann Stiftung, Wasserweg 1, 18374 Zingst 


Results of the foundation survey conducted in March / April 2023 

The latest results of our panel survey portrays the foundation sector in a positive light overall. More than two thirds of foundations are confident that the importance of foundations will continue to grow in future, while as many as 86 percent see themselves as being well positioned in view of the current social crises.

There are concerns about the future nonetheless: for nearly three quarters of all foundations, the rising inflation poses a considerable challenge. Personnel concerns are another issue: around 43 percent have problems finding a suitable successor for the chair of the foundation board.  

Foundations still have work to do when it comes to the proportion of female members of foundation boards: according to the results of the panel survey, 36 percent of foundations have no women on their board, while less than half of the board members are female in 21 percent of foundations.  

More information about the results can be found here:   
Maps to download: 



Association of German Foundations 

The Association of German Foundations represents the interests of German foundations vis-à-vis politics and society.  With over 4,800 members, it is the largest and oldest association of foundations in Europe. Around 9,800 foundations are affiliate members via their administrations. Each year, foundations in Germany invest at least 5.4 billion euros to promote the common good. The Association is committed to optimal framework conditions for foundations and their activities, and supports its members and its founders, especially by advising and networking them in their work. 

75th anniversary of the Association of German Foundations

This year, the Association of German Foundations is celebrating its 75th anniversary. More information about the anniversary can be found here: 
More information about its history can be found here: