Elements made visible: photographer Justin Zoll combines art and science. He uses photomicrography to reveal the breathtaking beauty of chemical substances. L-glutamine and beta-alanine.

Gene­rate more impact together

Solutions to social challenges

Foun­da­ti­ons coope­rate with a range of part­ners. This allows them to pool their finan­cial resour­ces, share know­ledge and gene­rate added value for stake­hol­ders and society as a whole.

‘The Income Study marks the first time we’ve laid down one of our colla­bo­ra­ti­ons in a contract,’ says Brigit Wehrli-Schind­ler, presi­dent of the board of trus­tees of the Walder Stif­tung. This charity is commit­ted to ensu­ring that the elderly can access good living condi­ti­ons and enjoy an excel­lent quality of life. The Income Study explo­res soci­ally rele­vant diffe­ren­ces in income across society in Switzerland. 

The Migros Culture Percen­tage also took part in the project, entit­led ‘Elderly people’s freely disposable income in Switz­er­land’ or the Income Study. Migros offers support to projects in the fields of culture, society, educa­tion, leisure and busi­ness, often within colla­bo­ra­ti­ons, on the basis of the commit­ment made by the company’s foun­der, Gott­lieb Duttweiler. 

‘The colla­bo­ra­tion for the income study came about as part of the “old-age” working group within Swiss­Foun­da­ti­ons, a body that brings toge­ther Swiss chari­ties offe­ring funding to exter­nal projects,’ explains Corne­lia Hürze­ler. She is Head of Social Projects at the Culture and Social Office of the Fede­ra­tion of Migros Coope­ra­ti­ves. ‘Nine chari­ties quickly came toge­ther as a consor­tium to commis­sion the study.’

Working as equals

‘The new thing about this alli­ance was that the funders approa­ched the rese­arch insti­tute with a shared idea,’ says Brigit Wehrli-Schind­ler. She explains that the oppo­site would normally be the case, with rese­ar­chers seeking funding for their projects from chari­ties. If a project wins funders over, it can be finan­ced by multi­ple chari­ties, all of whom know about each other. ‘In the Income Study project, rese­ar­chers and repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from chari­ties held regu­lar discus­sions about the progress of the project and about commu­ni­ca­ting its findings,’ she says. The roles were set out in a contract, but its success lay in the fact that the part­ners in the colla­bo­ra­tion trea­ted each other as equals. Unlike in a spon­so­ring arran­ge­ment, prefe­rence was not given to one major donor. ‘It is important that ever­yone has the same chance to shine, regard­less of how much they’ve put into the pot,’ says Corne­lia Hürze­ler. To ensure that this works, you need trust and a careful approach, along­side clearly defi­ned roles. A good colla­bo­ra­tion stra­tegy is foun­ded on ensu­ring that ever­yone works toge­ther to do as much as they can and shares a commit­ment to the task at hand. ‘That’s not always some­thing you can plan,’ says Corne­lia Hürze­ler. If it works out, ever­yone wins. ‘Migros Cultu­ral Percen­tage carries out lots of acti­vi­ties on its own, but colla­bo­ra­ti­ons encou­rage dialo­gue. In turn, they create a sense of commu­nity,’ says Corne­lia Hürze­ler. She also explains that finan­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties are much grea­ter when seve­ral chari­ties team up toge­ther. ‘And you also see a lot more exper­tise coming toge­ther, parti­cu­larly in terms of rese­arch skills and commu­ni­ca­tion,’ she explains. Brigit Wehrli-Schind­ler also empha­si­ses the added value of this. She says: ‘The discus­sions among the chari­ties help to expand their specia­list know­ledge of the topic in ques­tion.’ Any issues are worked through in detail, and the chari­ties are encou­ra­ged to exch­ange ideas for everyone’s bene­fit. ‘Each charity has a diffe­rent perspec­tive on the project, depen­ding on their objec­ti­ves,’ she says. The size of the charity, howe­ver, has little bearing on such discussions.



The Beis­heim Foun­da­tion is also invol­ved in laun­ching and assis­ting with colla­bo­ra­tive projects, such as the Income Study. Recently, it was invol­ved in a charity colla­bo­ra­tion on ‘good-quality care in old age’. ‘Colla­bo­ra­tive projects give us an excel­lent oppor­tu­nity to network with other chari­ties and stake­hol­ders in the field,’ says Mana­ging Direc­tor Patri­zia Rezzoli.

‘By working with them, we can deve­lop viable solu­ti­ons to major social chal­lenges.’ Along­side grou­ping toge­ther tasks and gene­ra­ting an impact, she sees the primary advan­ta­ges of this as the dialo­gue and networ­king, lear­ning and bene­fiting from each other. She belie­ves that the mutual exch­ange of ideas within such projects is hugely valuable. And even the projects them­sel­ves bene­fit from sustained and wider support thanks to the colla­bo­ra­tion. Patri­zia Rezzoli adds: ‘In fact, the Beis­heim Foundation’s work goes beyond simply putting money on the table: the notion of shaping projects as a part­ner­ship is behind ever­y­thing we do. That’s why we actively contri­bute our know­ledge, network and skills to ideas and concepts that we deve­lop and support in conjunc­tion with our partners.’


The Edith Maryon Foun­da­tion also works with other orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, as demons­tra­ted by its insti­tu­tio­nal colla­bo­ra­tion with Green­peace. ‘Some­ti­mes a donor is inte­res­ted in giving real estate to Green­peace,’ explains Ulrich Kriese, member of the board respon­si­ble for public rela­ti­ons at the Edith Maryon Foun­da­tion. Often, owners are under the impres­sion that their home will be preser­ved if they donate it, thin­king that it will be mana­ged along soci­ally respon­si­ble, eco-friendly lines. Howe­ver, Green­peace is not a property mana­ger, so the charity would instead sell the property to the highest bidder. This is where its colla­bo­ra­tion with Edith Maryon comes in. This foundation’s objec­tive is to stop people using resi­den­tial and busi­ness proper­ties for finan­cial specu­la­tion, aiming instead to preserve them for use as afforda­ble homes and commer­cial proper­ties. Ulrich Kriese says: ‘In this case, the house is signed over to us. We pass the net value onto Green­peace, and ever­yone wins.’ 

The desire to keep mana­ging the property as it was before is fulfil­led, Green­peace recei­ves funds that it would other­wise not have had and Edith Maryon can secure another property for the grea­ter good in the long term. Edith Maryon works with various part­ners in terms of using the buil­ding. They are often coope­ra­ti­ves and asso­cia­ti­ons, but chari­ties also crop up from time to time. 

If neces­sary, Edith Maryon acts as a guaran­tor for tenants’ depo­sits, and, in addi­tion, it works with chari­ties that look after soci­ally margi­na­li­sed groups. ‘People who find it hard to find a home on the housing market,’ as Ulrich Kriese puts it. The Markt­halle in Basel, home to indoor stalls and shops, is a special case within Edith Maryon’s port­fo­lio. ‘This project revol­ved around keeping the core concept of the Markt­halle, with its common land in the middle, as a public space,’ he says. ‘Someone else mana­ges this property for us, too. In this case, it is in the hands of Markt­hal­len Basel AG.’

L‑glutamine and beta-alanine.

A minor miracle

Today, the Markt­halle is just one property of many in an impres­sive port­fo­lio mana­ged by the foun­da­tion. Looking at their port­fo­lio, it’s hard to believe how little capi­tal the foun­ders had when they star­ted. ‘The secret to our success is not a secret – it’s a minor mira­cle,’ says Ulrich Kriese. The three foun­ders each put in 4,000 Swiss francs. In fact, the organisation’s success hinged on their deep-seated convic­tion and the concept behind the foun­da­tion. It has recei­ved a lot of support to date, whether in the form of dona­ti­ons, gifts, lega­cies or inte­rest-free loans. The phil­an­thro­pists who invest their money in a sub-foun­da­tion within the Rütli Foun­da­tion also want to make a diffe­rence. A sub-foun­da­tion within the Rütli Foun­da­tion will set you back 100,000 Swiss francs. 

‘For an inde­pen­dent foun­da­tion to have an impact, you need seed capi­tal of five to ten million Swiss francs,’ says Mana­ging Direc­tor Clau­dia Inei­chen. Apart from the start-up costs, the annual costs for admi­nis­tra­tion, accoun­ting, audits and the Super­vi­sory Autho­rity for Foun­da­ti­ons all mount up. This is why an umbrella foun­da­tion with sub-foun­da­ti­ons starts to look appe­al­ing: the set-up costs are very low, and its tax-exempt status is even alre­ady regu­la­ted via the umbrella foundation. 

This keeps costs down and ensu­res that prac­ti­cally 100 percent of the money goes towards its projects, she says. The sub-foun­da­ti­ons take the form of limi­ted-term trusts, meaning that, over the years, the capi­tal can make a diffe­rence to the chari­ta­ble projects that have been selected.

It’s all about impact – not preservation

‘Above all, the new phil­an­thro­pists want to make a diffe­rence. It’s not about making them­sel­ves immor­tal,’ explains Clau­dia Inei­chen. If someone deci­des to set up their own foun­da­tion with 500,000 Swiss francs, their objec­tive should not be to keep this capi­tal intact, hardly giving out any funds for the foundation’s purpose because they’re only permit­ted to make use of the yield gene­ra­ted by the capi­tal. ‘You can have more of an effect by giving out 50,000 Swiss francs each year and using up the capi­tal,’ she says, ‘which means that the money goes to society.’ It is fitting that the sub-foun­da­ti­ons are not inte­res­ted in publi­city. Clau­dia Inei­chen: ‘A sub-foun­da­tion is a good way to have a phil­an­thro­pic impact, and remain anony­mous.’ At the same time, it gives people the chance to put their own wishes into prac­tice, in a targe­ted fashion. Every sub-foun­da­tion has their own contract, and while the purpose of the umbrella foun­da­tion is formu­la­ted in rela­tively broad terms, it is tigh­tened up via the sub-foun­da­ti­ons’ contracts. Clau­dia Inei­chen explains the advan­ta­ges of this solu­tion: ‘It means you can adjust how the money is used at a later point. If someone wants to start offe­ring support in new areas, they can. Of course, they can only do so if this does not violate the requi­re­ments of their chari­ta­ble status.’ The Rütli umbrella foun­da­tion makes use of another perk: it takes a very active approach to networ­king. ‘There are sub-foun­da­ti­ons who are nevert­hel­ess able to take on projects. In that case, we have a look at the projects and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons we’ve been asso­cia­ted with for years, on behalf of the donors, to see if any of them fit,’ says Clau­dia Inei­chen. As part of this, she notes that incre­asing numbers of chari­ties are ente­ring into colla­bo­ra­ti­ons in the inte­rests of putting projects into prac­tice. The ideal situa­tion is when a donor commits to making a dona­tion for more than a year, which means that project mana­gers can plan for the longer term.

Many hands make light work

Colla­bo­ra­tion between various aid orga­ni­sa­ti­ons is behind a ‘brand’ that most people in Switz­er­land are fami­liar with, though the majo­rity are more likely to asso­ciate it with consu­mer goods than with charity work: Max Havel­aar. ‘At present, the chari­ta­ble orga­ni­sa­ti­ons are most noti­ceable on the board of trus­tees,’ says Renato Isella, CEO of Max Havel­aar.

They make up around half the members of the board and deter­mine the stra­te­gic direc­tion that the orga­ni­sa­tion is to follow. ‘Plus, we work with the aid orga­ni­sa­ti­ons in terms of commu­ni­ca­ti­ons, too,’ he says. It was only logi­cal for the aid orga­ni­sa­ti­ons Brot für alle, Cari­tas, Fasten­op­fer, Heks, Helve­tas and Swis­said to set up a foun­da­tion in 1992. Simply put, it was the perfect form for them to use. The aim was not to shine a spot­light on the orga­ni­sa­ti­ons invol­ved; the foundation’s objec­tive was the only thing that matte­red. Its sole focus? Fair trade. ‘This form has proved to be successful,’ says Renato Isella. That said, the Max Havel­aar Foun­da­tion needed to colla­bo­rate with such major distri­bu­tors as Migros and Coop to make people aware of the issue, ensu­ring that it could have an impact. 

Even when it was set up back in 1992, its expli­cit objec­tive was to get on the shel­ves of at least one of these retail­ers. ‘We wanted to make fair trade some­thing that was main­stream, not just for niche products,’ says Renato Isella. This impact was included in their plans from the off. ‘As a result, we got used to advo­ca­ting for our values in front of big compa­nies and putting them into prac­tice,’ he says. Max Havel­aar does not trade the products itself. ‘We allow part­ners to use our label, provi­ded they meet Fair­trade stan­dards,’ says Renato Isella. He is aware that there are retail­ers that want to add one or two Max Havel­aar products to their range for the sake of projec­ting a sustainable image. In these instances, he seeks out dialo­gue with the retail­ers in ques­tion: fair trade is a matter close to people’s hearts and should not be used to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Most compa­nies are commit­ted to the cause, and, for them, the label is an important way of proving this commitment.

Making use of synergies

The label guaran­tees that Fair­trade stan­dards are complied with. These stan­dards apply to every company invol­ved – in all four corners of the globe. They are laid down at the gene­ral meeting of the umbrella orga­ni­sa­tion Fair­trade Inter­na­tio­nal, where votes are distri­bu­ted equally across the north and the south. At the heart of this inter­na­tio­nal move­ment are the 1.7 million farmers and workers in deve­lo­ping count­ries. Simi­larly, natio­nal Fair­trade orga­ni­sa­ti­ons in 25 indus­trial count­ries, such as Fair­trade Max Havel­aar, also play a role. ‘By talking to each other, we can learn from each other, make use of syner­gies, simplify proces­ses and boost our impact,’ says Renato Isella. ‘Inter­na­tio­nal colla­bo­ra­tion plays an important role in this.’ We need to increase aware­ness within our society to ensure that produ­cers in the south can bene­fit from fair trade. We need ever­yone to come toge­ther if we want to improve living condi­ti­ons for disad­van­ta­ged people in deve­lo­ping count­ries in the long term: ‘The state provi­des the frame­work, compa­nies take on their respon­si­bi­li­ties – and chari­ties help them via their advice, their exper­tise and their inde­pen­dence.’ Brigit Wehrli-Schind­ler also under­stands the importance of drawing poli­ti­ci­ans’ atten­tion to important topics. These colla­bo­ra­ti­ons can help put chari­ties (and their concerns) on a stron­ger footing in their inter­ac­tions with the state. In turn, chari­ties can play a role in putting certain topics on the poli­ti­cal agenda – such as the issue of caring for the elderly and how this is finan­ced. Brigit Wehrli-Schind­ler says: ‘Colla­bo­ra­ting with chari­ties and rese­arch insti­tu­tes enables us to expand our know­ledge of current issues.’ Migros Cultu­ral Percen­tage is also invol­ved in colla­bo­ra­ti­ons at various levels. ‘We’re colla­bo­ra­ting with the state, the market and civil society,’ says Corne­lia Hürze­ler. ‘Tempo­rary short-term initia­ti­ves are simply perfect. We can’t assume that ever­yone invol­ved will share the same objec­tive at the same time.’ This is based on an under­stan­ding of how orga­ni­sa­ti­ons func­tion: they deve­lop and change, and take on new objec­ti­ves if the old ones no longer work for them.

Bridging the gap

L‑glutamine and beta-alanine.

Ulrich Kriese descri­bes their organisation’s rela­ti­onship with the state as follows: ‘We bridge the gap that the state can’t (or can no longer) fill to an accep­ta­ble extent.’ In Basel and else­where, there is demand for space that is not let at sky-high prices for social, cultu­ral and other needs. The Edith Maryon Foun­da­tion hopes to meet this demand by secu­ring the plots requi­red for this and making them available to those who need them. But the foun­da­tion is not just focu­sing on this gap alone: it is also willing to share its concerns with the poli­ti­cal sphere and go out on a limb. The ‘Neue Boden­in­itia­tive’, or ‘New Land Initia­tive’, was laun­ched in Basel in 2015 in colla­bo­ra­tion with Stif­tung Habi­tat and SVW Nord­west­schweiz (umbrella orga­ni­sa­tion of housing coope­ra­ti­ves in Northwes­tern Switz­er­land). Going forward, the land owned by the canton will not be put up for sale. Instead, it will remain in the canton’s posses­sion, with people only being given the right to build on it. In turn, this means that the canton can keep its hands on the land in the long term. ‘It goes without saying that the idea met with some resis­tance,’ recalls Ulrich Kriese. ‘Despite this, the initia­tive was backed by a two-thirds majo­rity in 2016.’ An impres­sive success for an issue rela­ting to civil society. 

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