At present, there are 21,301 foundations in Germany / Commitment to refugees has expanded
"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."
Prof. Dr. Michael Göring, President of the Board of Directors of the Association of German Foundations
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.