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How We Work


Creating a supportive workplace

Freedom, solidarity, goodwill – not only do we convey those values to the outside world through our various projects, we also live them within the Bertelsmann Stiftung. In doing so, our focus is always on acting responsibly towards our employees.

Anti-discrimination policy

Every employee at the Bertelsmann Stiftung has the right to be treated with respect and to work in a supportive, nonthreatening environment. Respect and tolerance are key aspects of our work, something reflected in our in-house structures. Employees engage with each other respectfully, appreciatively and courteously, as evidenced by their day-to-day communications and behavior and the way important decisions are made at the foundation. The dignity of each individual is inviolable, and all participants are considered equal during interactions, which take place in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual respect. Harassment, bullying and other unacceptable behavior directly contravene the Bertelsmann Stiftung's core principles and result unequivocally in corrective action.


The climate at the Bertelsmann Stiftung is one of openness and transparency. Our employees can raise any subject at any time and are free to share suggestions and express concerns. The foundation explicitly encourages its employees to get involved and shape their working environment.


All employees at the Bertelsmann Stiftung are entitled to equal treatment – regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religious affiliation or any other personal characteristic.

Work-life balance

We believe achieving a good work-life balance is of critical importance. The Bertelsmann Stiftung's human resources policies are therefore designed to give employees more flexibility in carrying out their professional duties. The tools used include flexible work schedules, sabbaticals and opportunities for working from home and working part-time. In addition, the Bertelsmann Stiftung offers advisory services and other support in the area of short- and long-term child and family care. 

Individual recognition and development

The objectives the Bertelsmann Stiftung pursues in its project work also apply within the foundation. We view our employees as individuals with unique skills and needs who play a key role in making our project work successful. Recognizing their potential, developing their skills and considering their needs are therefore of paramount importance to us and among the main responsibilities addressed by the foundation's managers and HR professionals.

Further education

Globalization, technological advances and demographic change are requiring people to acquire more and more knowledge in ever shorter periods of time. Lifelong learning is therefore essential. We offer our employees a range of further education options so that they can continue to carry out their daily responsibilities effectively in the future.

Supporting new talent

We use our Junior Professionals Program to train employees as project managers with an interdisciplinary and international focus. In addition, university students and recent graduates serve as interns in various areas at the Bertelsmann Stiftung every year.

Promoting health

Health management plays a key role in our HR activities. Together with employee representatives, we have put a framework in place that promotes the health and effectiveness of our staff. This includes preventive measures, precautionary screenings and an extensive sports program.


If people are to work together in a spirit of trust, they must be able to discuss conflicts openly and resolve them fairly. Employees who feel they have been disadvantaged or otherwise impeded by a supervisor or colleague have the right to call attention to the situation at any time. There are no negative consequences if they do so. They can submit a complaint to their own manager, the Human Resources department or one of their employee representatives. In addition, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has appointed an ombudsperson, making it possible for employees to contact a neutral individual outside the foundation.

This means problems and differences of opinion can be acknowledged and discussed at an early stage. When a conflict exists, all Bertelsmann Stiftung employees are therefore encouraged to raise the subject before the situation progresses and work together to find a solution. Solving problems is a key part of the foundation's philanthropic work and therefore of critical importance in all in-house activities.

Project work

A look behind the scences

Our projects respond to societal challenges and make a sustainable contribution to society's wellbeing.

Operational foundation

In keeping with the wishes of our founder, the Bertelsmann Stiftung carries out its own project work.


In doing so we cooperate closely with the relevant decision makers in the political, economic and social sectors, as well as with government institutions and research organizations.

Financial resources

As a result, we do not make grants or provide funding to third parties.  We invest virtually all of our financial resources in projects that we initiate and – to the greatest extent possible – execute ourselves.

Innovative & efficient

Our projects are designed to be innovative in impact, efficient in execution and readily comprehensible to the public. In keeping with our mission statement, we develop and realize exemplary solutions in cooperation with all relevant partners, starting with the conception phase and ending with tests carried out in real-world settings.

Working in a globalized world

Our work is directly affected by a number of global trends: globalization, digitalization, demographic change and social inequality. These trends are reflected in our projects and require that we remain in constant dialogue with international experts, institutions and organizations. In our daily work we therefore ensure that our structures are flexible, our hierarchies flat and our teamwork ongoing.

Our project teams consult with each other on the issues they are dealing with, and our approximately 330 employees cooperate with colleagues across subject areas and departmental lines. In brief, that is how we approach the roughly 35 projects we are currently working on. Each project’s duration is limited based on topic in order to free up resources for addressing new challenges.

Together with others

We can only achieve our goals in cooperation with many partners. That is why we work closely with relevant stakeholders and are in constant contact with all social groups.

Our programs do not exist merely to generate bright ideas. We want to become actively involved and make things better.

Reinhard Mohn



How we fund our projects

Tax-exempt status

The Bertelsmann Stiftung engages exclusively in nonprofit activities in keeping with Germany's tax code (§ 51ff. Abgabenordnung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland). It is not required to pay corporate or business taxes as a result. 

The Bertelsmann Stiftung's nonprofit status is reviewed every year by the German tax authorities. Its last notice of exemption is dated February 6, 2018 and is based on its tax return for the 2016 financial year. The foundation is therefore entitled to provide receipts for any donations it receives.


The Bertelsmann Stiftung is a corporate-affiliated foundation and was established by its founder, Reinhard Mohn, based on the belief that entrepreneurial success and wealth entail social responsibility. The majority of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's income derives from its indirect holdings in Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA. Additional funds are available to the foundation from its cooperative partnerships and from the management of its financial reserves. Only a limited amount of its funding comes from donations. 


The Bertelsmann Stiftung's liquid assets are invested with the goal of sustaining its assets over the long term while generating ongoing income. These objectives are pursued using an approach that essentially relies on a highly diversified, international investment portfolio and a balanced risk-return ratio. The foundation's asset management strategy is based on investment guidelines determined by the Executive Board. An advisory council appointed by the Executive Board advises the foundation on its investments. 


Under its bylaws, the Bertelsmann Stiftung transfers funds into an unrestricted reserve fund in accordance with Section 62 Para. 1 No. 3 of the German Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung, AO). 

These reserves ensure that the Bertelsmann Stiftung remains autonomous and independent regardless of the financial and economic development of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA.


A limited amount of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's funding comes from donations. 

Donors do not receive favors or concessions of any kind for their donation. The Bertelsmann Stiftung reserves the right to accept or reject any donation. 

Donors' personal data are treated confidentially, protected, and only shared with others with the donor's express consent.

Cooperation with third parties

When income becomes available to the Bertelsmann Stiftung as the result of cooperative projects – those carried out with other nonprofit organizations, for example – it uses these funds exclusively for the philanthropic purposes of the project in question.   

Any surpluses resulting from its business operations are also used only for charitable purposes.


Legal compliance

The Bertelsmann Stiftung and its organizational bodies act in accordance with all applicable laws. Germany's legal code supplies the framework within which the Bertelsmann Stiftung conducts its nonprofit activities. This compliance with legal requirements includes the observance and fulfillment of contractual agreements.

For the Bertelsmann Stiftung, one important responsibility is ensuring its employees comply with the law, and it therefore provides them with a Code of Conduct. All employees are required to adhere to this code, which reflects the foundation's basic principles. 

Moreover, its Information for Business Partners requires all its business partners to act within the law, adhere to ethical principles and abstain from engaging in any form of corruption. 

Preventing corruption and bribery

The Bertelsmann Stiftung proactively prevents corruption in all its areas of activity. All employees are sensitized to the topic of corruption and are encouraged to speak with their supervisor immediately should any suspicion of wrongdoing arise.

When working together with business partners and external service providers, the Bertelsmann Stiftung ensures that both sides operate conscientiously and with integrity. If one of the foundation's partners is found guilty of engaging in corruption or bribery, the business relationship is terminated immediately.

Donors do not receive favors or concessions of any kind for their donation. The Bertelsmann Stiftung reserves the right to accept or reject any donation.

Bribery is not tolerated at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, and measures have been put in place to proactively prevent it. If employees are offered a gift or benefit as part of their work, they must immediately inform their supervisor to ascertain whether accepting it is legally permissible. This does not apply to occasional, customary gifts of less than €25 in value. This policy ensures that gifts or offers made within a business relationship do not violate any applicable laws.

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