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Doing good with money

Many Germans pay their assets into foundations, thus making a valuable contribution to society, education, culture and nature – often beyond Germany's borders.

© Marc Darchinger/Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen - Foundations

Germany. When five IT enthusiasts launched a business in 1972 in Weinheim in the Rhine-Neckar District, developing new accounting technologies, they had no idea what would become of it. The small systems-analysis and program-development company developed into a global corporation called SAP – and its founders have since become benefactors. Dietmar Hopp, Klaus Tschira, Hasso Plattner and Hans-Werner Hector have put their assets into foundations. The first two are among the ten largest foundations in Germany. An exemplary story.

The individual foundations focus on different causes. Dietmar Hopp is involved in the social field, Klaus Tschira in education, Hasso Plattner in software development, and Hans-Werner Hector in art.

Broad-based commitment

There are more than 21,000 foundations in Germany devoted to a wide range of causes – ranging from education and health to society, culture and religion, or to the environment and science. More than 2,000 German foundations are internationally active, over 1,700 are involved in development cooperation. Most provide money to other organizations without implementing projects of their own.

Foundations have a long tradition in Germany. The oldest are thought to be the Vereinigte Pfründnerhäuser Münster and the Hospitalstiftung Wemding, which were founded in the tenth century 

German Founders Award 2017

The 2017 German Founders Award goes to Gabriele Quandt and Dr Florian Langenscheidt. In 1994, together with 30 like-minded people, they founded the children's aid organization 'Children for a better world' and, in 2007, the foundation of the same name. It campaigns against child poverty and for the involvement of young people under the motto 'With Children. For Children!'

Facts about foundations in Germany 

  • A foundation is a fund that is dedicated to a charitable purpose.
  • More than 21,300 foundations exist with total assets of some 100 billion euros.
  • Most of the foundations belong to the Association of German Foundations, the largest association of foundations in Europe.
  • The assets are not touched; a foundation's work is financed by interest and donations.