Supporting Switzerland as a top location for foundations
Although Switzerland is seen as a paradise for foundations thanks to its liberal legal framework and philanthropic tradition, grant-making foundations still have a great deal of development potential in terms of what they can achieve. In parallel to its own positioning, Gebert Rüf Stiftung is working toward a professionalization of the sector at the interface of science and grant-making practice.
Best-kept secret: Switzerland as home to foundations
Favourable regulations have made Switzerland a «paradise» for foundations: the Federal Foundation Oversight Agency estimates balance-sheet assets of traditional foundations at CHF 40 billion and growing rapidly. This puts foundation assets per capita at more than CHF 5’000, ten times the figure for Germany and three times that for Great Britain. The foundation sector is a known quantity in the latter countries. In Switzerland, however, there is no discernible foundation sector and no sectoral self-awareness. Reliable data are unavailable, the entire foundation sector is under-researched and, not least, there is no clarity concerning its significance, ways of functioning and performance mechanisms.
Fundaments and tools for more effective foundation work
Grant-making foundations have enormous potential to address social scarcities. The interplay of effects, however, are hardly a topic of traditional foundation work. In pursuit of its core aim of strengthening Switzerland «as a place to live and do business» as defined in its Statement of Purpose, and as a young foundation dedicated to innovation, Gebert Rüf Stiftung is active in promoting Switzerland as a top location for foundations. At the centre of this area of activity is judicious start-up financing of university-based projects on foundation management understood as an interdisciplinary field, comprising statistical, internationally comparative, managerial, legal and business ethical aspects.
Through its active support in organizing the Association of Grant-making Foundations in Switzerland (SwissFoundations), in addressing the topic of foundation governance, in developing best practices(Edition Foundation Governance; Swiss Foundation Code) and finally in implanting expertise in foundation activities at universities (CEPS at University of Basle), Gebert Rüf Stiftung has made a name for itself beyond the borders of Switzerland.
SwissFoundations – the leading association of swiss grant-making foundations
SwissFoundations currently unites 80 grant-making foundations in Switzerland and gives them a strong and independent voice. The association maintains a dense national and European network, champions optimum legal and social conditions for foundation activities and is committed to the entrepreneurial principles of good governance and results-oriented management. Through its activities and publications, SwissFoundations sets sector and quality standards, contributes to a credible and results-driven foundation landscape and supports its members in their responsible philanthropic work, the significance of which is constantly growing both in terms of civil society and economically. Via its members, SwissFoundations represents over 20% of total estimated distributions by charitable foundations in Switzerland.
Among other factors, SwissFoundations has made a name for itself by publishing Europe’s first-ever foundation governance code for grant-making foundations (Swiss Foundation Code), by launching Switzerland’s first interdisciplinary centre of excellence addressing questions relating to foundations and philanthropy (Centre for Philanthropy Studies) in 2008, and as publisher of the annual Swiss Foundation Report together with two cooperation partners.
For more information visit swissfoundations.ch
CEPS: Centre for Philanthropy Studies at the University of Basel
The Centre for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS) at the University of Basel is an interdisciplinary research and further education centre for Switzerland’s foundation system. Established in 2008 at the initiative of SwissFoundations, the CEPS is a university think tank which concerns itself with the multifaceted topic of philanthropy. This includes all types of private and charitable activity, especially the creation and management of foundations. The aim of the CEPS is to improve both the scientific foundation of and knowledge about philanthropy. Furthermore, the CEPS provides a direct benefit for foundations and other nonprofit organisations through professional education and coaching. The centre has an interdisciplinary focus and works with different faculties of the University of Basel and with research establishments at other universities as well as institutions rooted in society and business.
For more information visit ceps.unibas.ch