Following the sale of the internationally successful family-run company Geberit, Heinrich Gebert established Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Switzerland's largest private science foundation, in 1998. As a patron, he proved to be just as innovative as he had been as an industrialist. He used the newly established foundation as a vehicle for transferring the concept of entrepreneurship to the not-for-profit promotion of science.

Vita: Entrepreneur and Patron

Vita: Entrepreneur and Patron

As a representative of the third generation, Heinrich Gebert (1917–2007) took over his parents' plumbing business in Rapperswil at the age of 36. Together with his younger brother Klaus, he developed the company into Geberit, a global leader in the sanitary products sector. The breakthrough came as early as 1952 with the development of the first-ever plastic cistern. Thanks to a combination of know-how and entrepreneurial spirit, Heinrich Gebert succeeded in growing the business beyond Switzerland's borders into a group with 3,400 employees and a turnover of around one billion Swiss francs by the end of the 1990s.

After giving up an active role in the running of the company, Heinrich Gebert supported numerous private institutions in the fields of education and the arts. He committed 220 million Swiss francs in endowment capital to Gebert Rüf Stiftung, his most substantial foundation, making it the largest private science foundation in Switzerland. The name is a tribute to his late wife Paula Rüf, who died in 1995. A lawyer by profession, she was also a literary journalist of note. Heinrich Gebert opted not to take a seat on the board of trustees as he felt that the professionals could put his idea into practice more efficiently. His decision to set up the foundation made him the first patron in Switzerland to also apply entrepreneurial principles to not-for-profit activities.

Would You Like to Become a Benefactor?

You wish to do something worthwhile with your assets. But you find donating money too impersonal and not sufficiently transparent. You wish to be personally involved in non-profit projects. Perhaps you wish to pursue a specific issue or a particular grant-making objective. We will support you in your plans and help you to find a solution.

Traditionally, in Switzerland more money is donated to cultural and social ventures than to the ERI (education, research, innovation) sector. However, there is a great deal of potential for philanthropy here.It is a society's level of know-how today that determines its prosperity tomorrow – and with that a high standard of cultural achievement and a high degree of social stability.

However, some potential grant-makers are discouraged by the complexity of ERI themes. Gebert Rüf Stiftung has been engaged in the ERI sector for  20 years and has built up a dense network within universities and institutes of applied science.

If a foundation has a smaller pool of assets, up to CHF 10 million, the return on assets is often not commensurate with its objectives and its administrative costs. In such cases, it makes sense to establish a non-independent foundation under the auspices of an existing grant-making foundation. The independent umbrella foundation «Fondation des Fondateurs», which operates across the whole of Switzerland, provides just such an option. It guarantees individual solutions and optimum impact at a shared low administrative cost.

Contact us. We will be happy to advise you.