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Swiss foundation assets amount to around CHF 100 billion

On average, in 2017 every day a new foundation was established in Switzerland. In total over 13,000 charitable foundations with almost CHF 100 billion in capital were registered. As a result, the density of foundations in Switzerland continues to be among the highest in Europe, as the Swiss Foundation Report 2018 shows.


With 15.6 foundations per 10,000 inhabitants, Switzerland once again occupies a leading international position. In 2017, the number of charitable foundations continued to grow, by exactly 364. 70% of the foundations are regionally anchored and thus support local charitable initiatives and projects. The largest growth was recorded with 57 new foundations in the Canton of Zurich, followed by Geneva and Zug, where most new foundations were linked to Blockchain technology.

Foundation assets have grown

At the same time, liquidations have also increased: The 187 foundations dissolved last year are the second highest value after the 206 liquidations in 2014, with the canton of Aargau being particularly affected. Especially smaller foundations continue to suffer from the low interest rate environment or have been unable to continue their activities for other reasons.Since the last survey in 2012, the total assets of the foundation have increased by around 30% to almost CHF 100 billion. The Federal Supervisory Authority for Foundations oversees the largest assets of CHF 40 billion, divided among 4362 foundations, followed by the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land, whose foundations have total assets of almost CHF 17 billion. The average balance sheet total of a charitable foundation amounts to CHF 8.2 million; around 80% have less than CHF 5 million.

Special focus: Ten years of philanthropy research in Switzerland

The Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS) at the University of Basel and the Center for Foundation Law at the University of Zurich are two university research centers for foundations and philanthropy in Switzerland celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2018. When the two institutes were founded in 2008, there were only four such institutions in Europe. Today the number has grown to over twenty. For the head of CEPS, Prof. Georg von Schnurbein, the focus is on an interdisciplinary research approach: "By philanthropy we mean any private voluntary action for a non-profit purpose. These include not only foundations and major donors, but also voluntary work, contributions in kind or knowledge, which is made available free of charge via Wikipedia, for example. In addition to Basel and Zurich, other philanthropy centres are currently being established at the University of St. Gallen, the University of Geneva and the IMD in Lausanne.

Swiss Foundation Report 2018 (in German) 

Swiss Foundation Report 2018 (in French)