A lasting value: Foundations in Baden-Württemberg

Foundations are not the exclusive domain of American culture. Germans are also deeply involved in philanthropy. ­Donors want to leave behind something of permanent value. Today more than 2,000 German foundations promote ­science and research under public law. Foundations shape life in Germany as patrons of social, scientific and cultural institutions.

Their total assets amount to about 100 billion euros, and their ­annual volume of financial support is estimated at about 30 billion euros. According to the German Foundation Association, 2,847 foundations are registered (2011) in Baden-Württemberg, 146 of which were founded recently. The Baden-Württemberg Foundation, founded in 2000, is one of the great operative foundations in Germany and the only one that invests exclusively in the innovation capacity of Baden-Württemberg in a non-partisan manner. It promotes research, educational activities and responsible civic behaviour. The initiative group Stuttgart Foundations is an association of 100 ­legally independent foundations in the Stuttgart Region. As an independent, non-partisan and interdisciplinary institution, it creates a forum for exchanging information and expertise among existing foundations.

Stuttgart has 28 municipal foundations, and another 28 endowment funds created by numerous citizens who hold dear the public welfare of their home-town and donated their wealth to the city. The municipal foundations and funds sponsor social projects in need of funding. However, declining yields, low interest rates and dwindling donations compel foundations to organise their supporters and professionalise fundraising and wealth ­management. But therein lies an opportunity as well, believes Mirjam Schwink, Director of Foundation Management at Baden-Württemberg Bank (BW-Bank) Wealth Management. In the future, the topic of sustainability will gain importance. “This change in thought is already noticeable. Foundations have shown a rising interest in socially responsible investments. More and more organisations are including sustainable investments in their investment guidelines.”