Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Switzerland saw 365 new foundations created in 2021 – the highest number for five years. New support approaches are also on the rise, including impact investing, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropic corporations.
According to the 2022 Swiss Foundations Report from the Center for Philanthropy Studies, net growth doubled compared to the previous year, although the number of liquidations remained high. In total, Switzerland had 13,524 foundations at the end of 2021.
Zurich saw the greatest number of new foundations in 2021 at 51, followed by Geneva with 48. With a total of 2,232 foundations, Zurich has the most overall, followed by Bern with 1,390. However, the strongest growth was seen in the cantons of Zug, Thurgau and Aargau. At the top, Zug saw an 8% increase.
More key findings
The report also looks at other trends and developments, including the gender split on Swiss foundation boards. Despite a slight increase in the proportion of women, they are still largely underrepresented compared to men. Only 32% of foundation board mandates in Switzerland are held by women, up from 31% in 2020, and just 22% of Swiss foundations have a female president. The share of women in management roles however is higher at 38%.
2021 saw several developments in the Swiss foundation sector, including revisions to foundation law in December 2021, changes to how foundations are supervised in the canton of Zurich, and the rejection of the Noser motion, which challenged the tax exemption status of politically active nonprofits. Upcoming changes to the country’s data protection legislation are also on the horizon, due to be implemented in 2023.
The report notes too a new dynamic in the sector – evident from the figures as well as in the approaches to funding. New models that enable faster action to be taken are increasingly popular, having been put to the test during the pandemic, while the sector is also seeing a rise in foundations moving from investing in projects to investing in organisations based on how they feel about their work.
Picture by Nate Hovee on Pexels
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