Development and dissemination of philanthropic knowhow – since 2013
Up until a few years ago, Switzerland’s foundations appeared to be in a deep sleep. Even the country’s foundation legislation had remained unchanged for almost 100 years. As the number of foundations increased, so too did the interest in these institutions and the expectations made of them. In addition to a partial amendment of foundation law and further regulatory changes (including the reorganization of the supervisory bodies), foundations also face increased demands from their beneficiaries. At the same time, in the current environment of volatile markets, it is proving more and more difficult to fund the long-term goals of a foundation. By promoting and conveying knowledge, Gebert Rüf Stiftung aims to play a role in the advancement of Switzerland’s foundation sector.
Switzerland’s foundation sector is still a very underresearched area, almost unknown territory. Consequently, a key objective of any efforts to build up expertise and know-how within the foundation system is to promote academic institutions that investigate questions of philanthropy and foundation systems. Forerunners in this field are the Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS) of the University of Basel and the Center for Foundation Law at the University of Zurich. In addition, funding is also aimed in particular at research projects which take an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to investigating the significance and benefits of philanthropy for society.
The transfer of knowledge from research to practice has long been a pivotal objective of Gebert Rüf Stiftung. This is why the foundation supports projects that are relevant to actual practice and contribute to the development of the foundation system or drive the debate on foundations forward. What is more, the knowledge generated should be passed on through courses, conferences and workshops and made available to a broad spectrum of stakeholders. Other activities that promote the dissemination of knowledge include advocacy and consulting, areas in which Gebert Rüf Stiftung works closely with established institutions such as SwissFoundations and Fondation des Fondateurs.
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 organizations 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.