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The Future of Civil Society

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Every society depends on the involvement of its citizens. Whether through services or communal efforts, involvement in social causes offers individuals a variety of means for getting involved. Around the globe, the stakeholders in civil society see to it that services are provided in the areas of social services, education, sports, healthcare, art, culture, environmental protection and development work. That's what allows civil society to take the initiative and provide help to those in need. Charitable organizations allow people to work together - regardless of socioeconomic and cultural differences. Bertelsmann Stiftung is therefore dedicated to promoting involvement in civic initiatives and developing the nonprofit sector.

Focus Areas

Resources for Social Investors

Donors, sponsors and civic-minded companies seek to bring about social improvements with their involvement. They hope the funds they provide will be used effectively. Reports on various thematic areas indicate how and where support can prove especially useful.



Each year, more and more people decide to establish a foundation. Bertelsmann Stiftung actively supports this development and is working to promote professionalization of the foundation and donation sector. Foundation work today demands strategic leadership as well as efficient and effective management within the existing legal framework. We promote exchange among foundation managers and experts and facilitate a transfer of competencies on a national and international level through events and publications.


Kinder.Stiften.Zukunft. (Children.Action.Future.)

We are especially committed to the transfer of knowledge and the networking of stakeholders who support education, health and integration for young people. The Kinder.Stiften.Zukunft. conference provides a platform on which nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies and social investors can engage in an extensive exchange of ideas and launch new partnerships.


Young People and Social Involvement

Many young people want to contribute to society. Children and adolescents should discover early on what an enriching experience assuming responsibility in society can be. We seek to provide young people – regardless of their background and level of education – with the opportunity to become involved in social affairs, an opportunity that will motivate them to actively help shape the democratic community throughout their lives.


Community Foundations

More and more citizens are getting involved in their communities. Proof of this can be seen in the growing number of newly established community foundations in Germany and elsewhere. They send a powerful message to society. Even individuals with relatively modest amounts of time and money to contribute can thus improve the quality of life in their local community – an attractive form of civic involvement.


Zivilgesellschaft in Zahlen (Placing Civil Society on the Economic Map)

Although the importance of civil society is widely acknowledged, the exact nature and composition of the charitable sector in Germany remains largely unclear. The project “Zivilgesellschaft in Zahlen” (Placing Civil Society on the Economic Map) provides updated empirical data on the importance of civil society to the economy, labor market and sociopolitical environment as well as on its internal structure.


Foundation Law and Management

Foundation and charity law determine what charitable foundations can and cannot do. In international expert committees, conferences and networks, we discuss the information and experience gained in charitable foundations elsewhere, gleaning best practices to bring home to Germany.
Within these statutory constraints, philanthropic endeavors nowadays increasingly demand strategic leadership and efficient and effective management. The Bertelsmann Stiftung promotes exchanges among foundation managers and experts and helps disseminate the knowledge and expertise gained from these exchanges nationally and internationally, both in published form and through topic-related events.

Project Transfer

Success project transfers remain the exception, not the rule. That's unfortunate, since a transfer of knowledge from one project to the next ensures that resources are used more efficiently and effectively and that network synergies are fully utilized. In addition, it increases the quality the the work carried out during a project as well as the project's social impact.

Related Projects

Contact Person
Portrait Bettina Windau Bettina Windau
+49 5241 81-81138

Learning from the best

Facing limited resources and a long list of worthy causes, organizations working for the common good must learn from others and cooperate in order to increase their impact and efficiency. Reinventing the wheel is the one thing we just can't afford any longer. After a decade of supporting international philanthropic networks in order to promote the development of philanthropy in Germany, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is now focusing on the non-profit sector more widely.

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