[Translate to English:] Mehrere Jugendliche stehen im Kreis und legen in der Mitte des Kreises ihre Hände aufeinander, um Verbundenheit und ein Teamgefühl auszudrücken.

What We Stand For


Inspiring people. Shaping the future. Participating in a globalized world.

That phrase sums up the work carried out by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. As we see it, if everyone is to participate then everyone must have the ability to get involved and society must offer all of its citizens the chance to succeed. Germany currently faces a number of daunting challenges resulting from globalization, demographic change, the growing diversity of the country's population and its ongoing development into a knowledge-based society. The Bertelsmann Stiftung's programs are therefore designed to strengthen society and help individuals reach their full potential by developing the resources needed to achieve those goals.

Freedom, solidarity and goodwill are the values that underlie our work and determine our goals.


The Bertelsmann Stiftung is a private operating foundation. We therefore only fund projects that we conceive and initiate ourselves and then support as they are being carried out.

As a result, we do not make grants or provide support for third-party projects. Our partners are decision makers in the political, economic and social spheres, as well as public institutions, research organizations and other foundations. In particular, we focus on exchanging ideas and experience across cultural and national borders. Our goal is to contribute to social reform. That is only possible if we enter into an ongoing dialogue with all societal stakeholders and ensure the work we do is always valued by the public.

Our Core Beliefs

The Bertelsmann Stiftung was founded in 1977 based on the conviction of our founder, Reinhard Mohn, that Germany was not doing enough to consider the growing competition between the globe's various social and economic systems. We therefore concentrate on developing solutions capable of addressing challenges in range of societal sectors and, at the same time, ensuring the continuity of Germany's political, economic and social structures. In doing so, we consider what has proven successful in other countries and we strive to balance research findings with experience in the field.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung's activities are exclusively and directly philanthropic in nature. Its objective is to promote research and understanding in the areas of religion, public health, youth and senior affairs, culture and the arts, public education and career training, social welfare, international cultural exchange, democracy and government, and civic engagement.

Our Issue-Specific and Practice-Based Expertise

We are currently carrying out about 60 projects. Each project's duration is limited based on topic in order to free up resources for new challenges. Once a project has been successfully completed, i.e. a proposed model or solution has been developed, we then strive to implement the model or solution.

This can take a variety of forms. The solutions either become part of accepted practice in the relevant sector, they are adapted for use by our project partners or they continue to be jointly implemented within a cooperative framework.

When executing our projects we rely on recognized experts in a range of disciplines, including the 360 highly qualified individuals employed by the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

All members of the project team remain in close contact with the stakeholders and target groups present in their area of work. They are therefore up to date on the latest developments and solutions being used to address pressing social issues. They also make their specialized knowledge available to the media and the public.

We Focus on Communication and Transparency

Being transparent is our way of expressing the responsibility we feel toward society. We therefore make available to the public the information needed for understanding how we are funded and the work we do.

An Insistence on Impact

As society changes, so do the conditions affecting how foundations carry out our work; they also affect program content and the manner in which foundations fulfill their mandates. Foundations are therefore not static entities, but must constantly reconsider and redevelop the strategies behind their activities, as well as how those activities are implemented and the reach they are designed to have. At the same time, foundations must retain the public's trust.

Our focus on impact and the evaluations we carry out of our own projects serve as the basis for ensuring our activities are successful and seen as valuable by others. They also help us as we further develop our work.

Our Idea of Good Practice

We believe part of our responsibility is to use our resources in an effective and non-self-serving manner, i.e. one that promotes the common good. We are therefore guided in our efforts by the "Guiding Principles of Good Practice for Foundations" laid out by the Association of German Foundations.

Guiding Principles of Good Practice

The complete "Guiding Principles of Good Practice for Foundations" can be found on the Association of German Foundations website.


At the Bertelsmann Stiftung, we believe that taking responsibility also means actively promoting sustainability, both in society and in our own organization. We want to increase the effectiveness of our efforts in this area, including by adhering to ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. We have therefore defined sustainability as one of the key fields of action for the foundation’s strategic further development.

Climate change, environmental degradation and the increasing scarcity of natural resources are putting the traditional economic and social model under pressure. Shaping the transition to sustainability is a task for everyone in society. In keeping with our bylaws, we want to make an effective contribution to this change through the work we do in many of our projects.

In our inhouse processes as well, it has long been both a guiding principle in our organizational culture and lived practice to manage resources, people, capital and the environment responsibly. We have also set the overall goal of reducing the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s carbon footprint.

Where do we stand?

Following a systematic stocktaking, we have assembled the relevant key indicators and are focusing on those areas and activities at the foundation that have a decisive impact on sustainability.

To ensure the foundation is helping protect the climate by managing its energy use intelligently, we analyze a number of factors, including the direct connection between our facilities and our energy consumption. We have been carrying out an energy audit of our headquarters in Gütersloh regularly since 2015. A key goal of the audit is to determine additional steps we can take to increase our energy efficiency.

We address other issues so we can reduce our carbon footprint even further. To that end, we ask a number of questions: Where are CO2 emissions occurring? What evidencebased methods can we use to determine the amount? Which responses would be appropriate?


We have tracked the energy consumed at our facilities for a number of years in order to identify potential savings. The use of energy from renewable sources is of particular importance, and we now purchase only green electricity. We also identify areas with high levels of energy consumption and take steps to optimize them, for example by systematically upgrading pumps to highefficiency models and replacing conventional lighting with LED technology. Moreover, the measures introduced in the winter of 2022/2023 in response to the energy crisis have led to significant savings in heat and electricity.

The foundation’s outdoor areas are highly diverse in terms of flora and fauna. We further promote this diversity by planting flower borders and cultivating green spaces. These outdoor areas support the storage of CO2.


A key focus at the foundation is raising awareness among our employees of the need to use environmentally friendly transport. To that end, we offer them discounted public transit tickets, flexible working conditions and the possibility of borrowing or leasing bicycles, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles and parking spaces reserved for carpools in preferred locations. A working group organized by the foundation’s employees regularly provides suggestions to help people reflect critically on the topic of mobility.

Our employees generally travel by train or public transport when taking business trips within Germany. Our "Environmentally Friendly Travel Guide" provides a wealth of information on how to travel in a way that is more climatefriendly.


Events are a crucial medium for communicating what we do to the public. To that end, we organize
everything from small workshops to large conferences, ceremonies and concerts. In the future, we will be planning and realizing these events sustainably. Various aspects will be taken into consideration, including catering, travel planning, the selection of locations and service providers, and the responsible use of resources.

We carry out pilot projects to systematically identify the carbon footprints of our events, including potential ways to reduce and avoid emissions, and to offset unavoidable emissions. The emissions generated by participants as they travel to our events are a particular challenge, since they account for the largest share of each event’s carbon footprint.

Green IT

The concept of Green IT shapes how information and communications technology (ICT) is used throughout its entire lifecycle. It encompasses the resourceconserving and environmentally friendly production, use and disposal of an organization’s ICT. We are already applying the concept’s basic principles and are developing more specific approaches. As early as 2011, for example, we began using server virtualization, which significantly reduces the number of physical servers needed. In addition, we are expanding the use of leasing agreements for mobile devices.


Surely every responsible citizen in a democracy is concerned when the social order fails to live up to its promise. It was precisely this concern that prompted my desire to get involved and make a difference.

Reinhard Mohn


Our Founder's Beliefs

Why Reinhard Mohn Founded the Bertelsmann Stiftung

In light of his success in the world of business, Reinhard Mohn felt an obligation to give back to society. He wanted to encourage people to get involved in issues they deemed important. He also wanted to help create a society capable of offering everyone a chance to succeed.

Each person must be in a position to determine the goals they pursue and the life they lead. That was the principle Reinhard Mohn used in running his company, Bertelsmann AG. He firmly believed in individual responsibility and decentralized management. From the start, he made sure that employees shared in the company's success. He was not moved by a desire to achieve social utopia, but by the conviction that motivated employees who are given the opportunity develop further in the workplace perform better and are happier.

Read more