Research Projects

On this page you may find detailed information on current and completed CEPS research projects.

Start of project: July 2014
End of project: December 2018
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

In their entrepreneurial activities, nonprofit organizations (NPO) pursue factual and not monetary goals. These goals are directly derived from the values inherent in the organization’s mission. Therefore, the realization of financial profits is only instrumental to the achievement of the organization’s goals – however, crucial for their organizational survival. NPO not only operate in the area of conflict between financial and factual goals, but also between state and market forces. As a result, their means of income as well as their term-structure of cash flows substantially differ from for-profit organizations. Given these differences, the application of common operating figures used by for-profit organizations to judge their financial stability and diversity (hence, their financial “health”) is not reasonable for NPO.

We will examine this subject by applying various research designs. First, this research project aims to analyze the financial stability and diversity of fundraising in NPO, similar to recent studies conducted in the USA. Therefore, we focus on the changes in diversification vs. concentration of income sources, the reasons that lead to these changes, and recognizing the effective strategies in terms of support they offer the organization's financial health. Scholars still disagree about whether a higher degree of diversification or the concentration of revenue sources is strategically more successful. Moreover, we study the strategic management of financial resources. Traditional research often builds on financial data. We want to close this research gap by conducting case studies and using data triangulation. 

Start of project: July 2015
End of project: October 2019
Contact: Theresa Gehringer
Partner: Rotterdam School of Managment, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Even though research on foundations has considerably grown during the last couple of years, little attention has been directed at Corporate Foundations as particular type of philanthropic foundations. Corporate foundations differ from private foundations set up by individuals, as they show a complex relationship with the founding organization in terms of governance, ownership, management and funding/resources. They operate on the margins of two institutional logics: the profit making aims of the corporation and the social civil society orientation of philanthropic institutions.

Although some preliminary research on Corporate Foundations is available, much remains unknown. Lucas Meijs, Lonneke Roza (Rotterdam School of Management), Georg von Schnurbein, Steffen Bethmann and Theresa Gehringer (CEPS) have joint forces to edit a research book on Corporate Foundations. The overall aim is to develop and present a specific overview of the contemporary body of knowledge and the future (international) research agenda on Corporate Foundations.

The resulting research handbook provides legitimacy for the topic in academia, displays seminal knowledge on Corporate Foundations, creates new avenues to look at this phenomenon, includes contemporary and new research on the topic and creates a research agenda for future research. Next to its academic contribution, the project aims to develop insights for managerial practice, especially for Corporate Foundations and their stakeholders, such as the company, non-profit organizations and civil society. As separate but integrated result, several thematic brochures and workshops for practitioners will be developed from the newly generated knowledge in order to provide support in governance and management related questions of Corporate Foundations.

Publication:

Start of project: 2017
End of project: 2019
Contact: Dr. Oto Potluka

The project aims to contribute to solving current and future problems of cultural and social integration caused by the unforeseen scale of demographic transitions and the increasingly urban population. We argue that these problems can be overcome through qualified leadership from inhabitants who voluntarily engage in nonprofit sector activities in cultural programs and public spaces. Our project therefore focuses on thoroughly analysing the current role, impact, and challenges of nonprofit organizations (NPO) leaders. The study will provide knowledge about effective measures and useful strategies for bottom-up solutions to one of the most significant problems in contemporary Europe.

The governance of cities undergoing changes in their population structure is, however, a more difficult problem to address, and it requires social innovations that provide solutions for the emergence of unexpected social tensions. In this process, NPO and the voluntary engagement of citizens can play a major role in solving such problems, but to do so, they must be guided by leadership at an individual and collective level. The core of our research project investigates the mechanisms for achieving such leadership.

Based on the data, we identify the best leadership strategies. These are associated with the most successful outcomes in public spaces, and social integration. These findings will enable us to design leadership models aimed at achieving the greatest possible reduction in social tension and at developing sustainable public spaces.

Publications:

  • Potluka, O. / Kalman, J. / Musiałkowska, I. / Idczak, P. (2018, forthcoming). Civic Engagement in Local Politics in Central Europe. In R. Kerley, P. T. Dunning & J. Liddle (Eds.), The Longman Handbook on International Local Government. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Potluka, O. / Kalman, J. / Musiałkowska, I. / Idczak, P. (2017). Non-profit leadership at local level: Reflections from Central and Eastern Europe. Local Economy, 32(4), 297–315. doi: 10.1177/0269094217707281.
  • Potluka, O. / Spacek, M. / Remr, J. (2017). Non-governmental Organizations as Partners: Obstacles in the EU Cohesion Policy? Ekonomický časopis, 65(80), 715-736.

Start of project: April 2016
End of project: 2019
Contact: Sophie Hersberger

As soon as non-profit organizations (NPOs) offer services, set prices or acquire resources, they face challenges similar to those faced by for-profit companies: they must focus on the needs of their stakeholder groups and satisfy these needs. In the case of for-profit companies, as the saying goes, the customer is king. NPOs, however, face a much more complex circle of markets and stakeholders. They not only focus on clients or customers, who can often be divided into different sub-groups, but also have to meet the requirements of the donors and sponsors, comply with the standards of the supervisory authorities or state guidelines, recruit and manage voluntary employees and at the same time take care of their public perception, cost-efficient procurement of resources and competitors or partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors. And all this in the face of increasing scarcity or stagnation of public funds and a growing number of NPOs.

Many researchers have criticized the increasing "marketization" of NPOs, but there is no empirically supported concept for measuring the market orientation of NPOs. Due to the dominance of not-for-profit objectives in NPO and their complex stakeholder structures, the transfer of a market orientation concept from the private sector, such as MARKTOR or MKTOR, is not satisfactory. Many NPOs have a strong inward-looking management perspective, which assumes that the organization knows best what clients need. The needs of the market are thus not taken into account or satisfied. The assessment of the market orientation of many NPOs is therefore largely based on self-assessment, without a direct possibility of comparison with other organisations.

The aim of the dissertation is to close this research gap and to create an understanding of the interactions between NPOs and their stakeholder groups. In a first step, the market environment of an organization is modelled and classified into theories of the emergence of NPOs. In a further step, the market orientation of NPOs in different sectors will be empirically investigated and linked to performance variables in order to gain a better understanding of how market orientation affects the performance of a NPO. This study is intended to supplement the existing non-profit literature with a theoretical and empirical analysis of this topic, as no comprehensive research has been carried out to date. On the other hand, the results should help practitioners to align their management culture in such a way that the needs of the important stakeholders in their organization are really met. A better understanding of market orientation and its effects in the nonprofit context can have an impact on an organization's performance and strategy.

Start of project: February 2016
End of project: 2019
Contact: Sara Stühlinger

The economization of societal sectors has increased over the last years. This has affected the nonprofit sector as well: philanthropic activities are increasingly considered to be investments rather than donations or alms and the boundary between investment management and funding activities becomes blurred.

These developments affect nonprofit organizations (NPO) as investors and as capital seekers. As investors NPO have to address the question of the alignment of investment decisions to their missions and the involvement of financial intermediaries in its implementation. Trends such as impact investing require a discussion about financing instruments as well as the future role of NPO as investor as well as investee.

Investments play a crucial role, not merely in the external financing but also in the internal financing. Due to the mission driven character of a NPO and its asymmetric exchange patterns, the efficiency of a NPO cannot be explored by the market and hence greater attention is needed. This efficiency pressure leads to the unintended effects of underinvestment. We approach these research questions by empirical analyses. For this purpose we collect financial data and further characteristics of NPO and investment objects.

Start of project: October 2015
End of project: 2019
Contact: Theresa Gehringer

In the large body of literature on CSR, corporate philanthropy only holds a small share. Due to scarcity of data, empirical research is – with a few exceptions – limited to US-based corporations and their philanthropic activities. This is the first research project that covers all three aspects of Corporate Philanthropy in Switzerland: Corporate Giving, Corporate Volunteering and Corporate Foundations. So far no comprehensive study was ever conducted on this subject with data from Swiss companies and their Corporate Philanthropy activities.

The overarching aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the interdependencies of CSR and corporate philanthropy. Especially to help understand, if and how corporate philanthropy activities create a win-win-situation for both business and society.

The descriptive research aim is to conduct a first conclusive overview of the different forms of corporate philanthropy and their state of action in Switzerland. Additionally, a better understanding of the linkages between corporate philanthropy, CSR and firm profitability will be developed using the collected data on corporate philanthropy in Switzerland. The explorative research aim of the project is to detect rules and criteria to value the impact of corporate philanthropy on the company’s social embeddedness (as civil society actor).

The findings of this research project will have a major effect on the theoretical debate on corporate philanthropy and corporate social behavior in general. By looking at the current debate on Corporate Philanthropy and taking Switzerland as a mini-laboratory, we lay the ground for a distinct theory of corporate philanthropy.

Start of project: June 2017
End of project: June 2021
Contact: Nicholas Arnold

Academic interest in cooperation between nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and companies has been growing for about two decades, not least because the number of such partnerships has been steadily increasing. In research literature, this form of collaboration is generally viewed positively, both in terms of its ability to create value for the respective partners and to serve society as a whole. However, the focus of research to date in this area is mainly on the companies' point of view. The NPO's point of view, on the other hand, is still not thoroughly researched.This research project starts by raising, for example, following questions:

  • Which NPOs are looking for partnerships with companies?
  • What are the specific challenges for NPOs in such partnerships and what are the resulting opportunities and risks for NPOs?

This project uses large-scale surveys and specific case studies to address the preceding questions. In this way, a contribution is made to the further development of theory in the field of cooperation between NPOs and companies.

Start of project: July 2017
End of project: July 2021
Contact: Alice Hengevoss

The number of international nonprofit organizations (INPO) is constantly increasing worldwide. The management literature, however, provides relatively little insights on the internationalization decisions of such organizations and the processes involved. The existing theory primarily defines factors relevant to the internationalization of for-profit organizations (FPO). As NPOs and FPOs significantly differ in their underlying objectives (profit maximization vs. maximization of societal welfare), their societal role, their financing structure, the control mechanisms, and their targeted markets, we may expect differences in their decisions of expanding abroad and the processes involved. The present research project therefore investigates the NPOs' market entry decisions and subsequent internationalization strategies.

An important body of the management literature on an organization’s internationalization is based on institutional theory. The approach suggests that the institutional environment and its underlying structures, formal and informal rules, and norms significantly shape an organization’s behavior. Internationally operating organizations therefore face a multitude of different institutional demands to which they ought to respond in order to be effective. Entering a new market and venturing into a new institutional context therefore entails significant transaction costs which ultimately influence the market entry decision and strategy. This research project therefore addresses an NPO’s transactions and analyses how they influence the organization’s market entry and strategic decisions. The goal is to contribute to a better understanding of successful NPO internationalization.

Start of project: January 2016
End of project: December 2018
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

Research on nonprofit governance has increased over the past years. However, the majority of existing literature falls short on several aspects. First, the focus lies predominantly on the board or the relation between the board and the executive director. Second, most studies concentrate on a single organization structure, neglecting the more complex structures of federalist or multi-level organizations that are common in practice. Finally, the theoretical grounding is often driven by normative or positivist approaches.

One solution to overcome some of these limitations of existing research is the network governance approach developed by Bradshaw (2009) and Renz (2006). The basic idea is that governance structures go beyond the board and even beyond the single organization. In this study, we apply the network governance approach to the board and committee structure of global health partnerships, such as The Global Fund or GAVI. These supranational organizations are a rather new phenomenon of nonprofit organizations and connect constituents from business, nonprofit, and state sector. As the primary purpose of the organization is the connection of diverse interest groups, governance is critical to the effectiveness and success of these networks (Provan & Milward 1995).

Our research questions are:

  • How is board composition structured in network governance?
  • What are the abilities of network governance structures to transport and share information?

In order to answer these questions, we have collected data on a total of 523 board and committee members of ten global health partnerships. Using network analysis, we can show, which actors in the network have the best positions to either send information through the network or to transfer information. Both criteria are important to value the overall structure of the network.

Preliminary results show that over the ten global health partnerships with very different missions and distant geographic locations, one single network develops if one looks at the level of boards and committees. Thus, the boards and committees fulfill an important role as information traders within a global network. In a more detailed perspective, some actors obtain a very central and highly influential role for the information flow of the network. However, other organizations gain influence as gate keepers, because they act as a single connection between the network center and one further cluster. These findings highlight different roles and strategies of influence in a network governance system.

Publications:

  • Perez, M. (2017): Transaction Cost Perspectives on Cooperation: A Study of Hybrids Through Foundations Lobbying in the EU, in: VOLUNTAS, 2017, online first: doi: 10.1007/s11266-017-9928-z

Start of project: July 2012
End of project: September 2018
Kontakt: Steffen Bethmann
Partner: Centrum für Soziale Investitionen und Innovation (CSI), Universität Heidelberg

There is an unexpectedly large gap between foundations’ quest to being drivers and initiators of social innovation and actually realising the concept and dealing with the process of social innovation. When reviewing the literature of social sciences of the past few years, it becomes evident that a lot of effort goes into establishing “social innovation” as a research field in its own right. On the basis of this development, it becomes possible to critically question the role of foundations as social innovators. This research project examines the extent to which foundations can be drivers and supporters of social innovation.

The first part consists of an analysis of the functions of foundations in society and their role in the welfare state. Then, the term “social innovation” is defined as a concept and theoretically supported. The next step is to transfer our results to the strategies foundations apply when intending to create social change. And finally, the study will formulate prerequisites for a foundation’s strategy that will help to effectively initiate and support social innovations.

Publication:

Start of project: November 2015
End of project: December 2017
Contact:
Dr. Marybel Perez 

The project seeks to explain how foundations participate in European policymaking. The project starts with an analysis of the European Transparency Register with the purpose of showing what kinds of foundations participate in EU consultations, in what type of consultation processes they participate and what policies attract foundations the most. 

Start of project: January 2013
End of project: April 2016
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

The recent turmoil on the global financial markets has lead foundations to review their investment policies. In the light of decreasing yields and returns there is a growing need for investment strategies that support the effective implementation of the organization’s mission. Mission Investing (MI), also known as Mission-Related Investing (MRI), offers the possibility to pursue the organization’s mission while the assets are kept invested. The concept of incorporating the funding strategy in the investment policy therefore aims to reduce the dependence on financial returns.

MI is an umbrella term that incorporates and overlaps various value-based investment concepts (e.g. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) or Impact Investing). This multitude of concepts and the lack of a generally accepted definition of MI impede the topic’s scientific discussion. Additionally, in order to prove the economic legitimacy of such concepts, methods to quantify the qualitative impact of such investments are necessary. However, these instruments are still underdeveloped, as well as the empirical coverage of the practical implementation of MI. In face of the increasing interest of foundations and financial service providers in that certain topic, an academic examination of MI is crucial.

This research project aims at defining transparent and measurable criteria to evaluate and legitimate the adequate implementation of MI with the help of established methods from financial market theory. Further, it tries to promote the understanding to what extent MI can be an appropriate investment tool, by analyzing the mission-specific trade-off between value-based and purely profit-seeking investment strategies.

Publications:

  • Fritz, T. und von Schnurbein, G.(2013). ‘Mission Related Investing bei Schweizer Förderstiftungen‘. In: von Schnurbein, G. und Egger Ph. (Hrsg.). Innovation statt Stagnation, Foundation Governance Bd. 10, Verlag Helbing Lichtenhahn
  • Fritz, Tizian: Mission Investing. Four Essays on Mission-based Investment Strategies in the Context of Nonprofit Organizations.

Further information:

Start of project: March 2013
End of project: January 2014
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

The research project "Generous People" is a comparative study about philanthropic donations in over 20 countries. Our Centre is responsible for the Swiss part. For each country first a historical overview about philanthropy is provided. Then donation behaviour is analyzed by using multivariate analysis. Through logistic regression the influence of various variables on religious and secular giving is measured. By using a tobit regression the influence of the same variables on the amount donated is tested. The results are published in an edited volume.

Publication:

  • Wiepking, P. and Handy, F. (2015). The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy. Palgrave Macmillan. Hampshire, England.

Start of project: January 2014
End of project: December 2015
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

Within the scope of corporate citizenship and as an instrument to engage in charitable activities, many companies establish foundations with charitable missions. These foundations often differ significantly from classic grant-making foundations. First of all, a company usually endures longer than a founder, therefore exerting a more permanent influence. Secondly, the corporate foundation isn’t generally equipped with extensive foundation assets, but is moreover supported annually, thereby increasing the foundation’s dependence to the company. Thirdly, the question of which references between the company’s core business and the foundation’s charitable engagement with regards to contents, make sense, are allowed, and proven to be efficient.

In several individual projects and in collaboration with international partners, the CEPS examines the management and governance of corporate foundations. The foundation’s perspective is hereby explicitly adopted, since existing literature largely focusses on the topic from a corporate point of view.

The following research questions are of core interest:

  • Is Corporate Philanthropy part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
  • Does the shared-value approach provide the highest possible societal benefit from the foundation’s activities?
  • How does the existing relationship to the company affect the foundation’s governance?

Publication: 

Start of project: 2009
End of project: June 2015
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein
Partner: Stiftung Mercator Schweiz

In contrast to private companies, evaluating projects of NPO turn out to be a challenging task cause of the different type of objects to measure. In grantmaking foundations the trilateral organization structure of giving grants presents an additional difficulty. Such foundations do not operate projects by themselves and are required to control other organizations or institutions which they support.

The research project Foundation Evaluation, kindly funded by the Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, is searching for solutions to perform trilateral evaluations in grantmaking foundations. In the first step, existing evaluation methods, which are often used in NPO, are collected and analysed. Afterwards, qualitative and quantitative studies will give enquire the evaluation situation in Swiss foundations. In the end the study will give insights about the evaluation activities of Swiss foundations and provide practioners with evaluation instructions

Publication:

  • Wyser R. (2016): Evaluation von Förderprojekten. Governance-Analyse einer spezifischen Evaluationssituation unter Anwendung der Prinzipal-Agenten- und der Vertrauenstheorie, BoD.
  • von Schnurbein, G. / Wyser, R. (2012). Governance-Beziehungen in einer trilateralen Evaluationssituation. In: Gmür, M.; Schauer, R.; Theuvsen, L. (Hrsg.). Performance Management in Nonprofit-Organisationen, VMI, Haupt, Bern.

Start of project: September 2012
End of project: September 2014
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein
Partners: Freie Universität Amsterdam, ERNOP, EU-Commission, Gebert Rüf Foundation

The financing of research at Swiss Universities continues to be understood as being dependant on Government expenditure by the greater part of the political environment and society. Today, the proportion of Governmental funding within the total budget of Universities is declining and funding is supplemented by Government and private research promotion funds attained through successful research applications and performance evaluations. Besides ample subsidies from the EU and the Swiss ‘Nationalfonds’, there is a growing interest from private donors to support science, be it sponsorship, Foundations or corporations. Besides large donations that make it into the public eye, such as the donation of the Adolphe Merkle Institut to the University of Fribourg or the recent donation by the ‘UBS Foundation of Economics in Society’ to the University of Zurich, there are a large number of private Foundations offering financial support for research and education at Universities. There is, however, up to date no scientific account of the number and value of donations, purpose or conditions of spending and the different types of sponsorship. Valid predictions on the potential of private funds for science and projections on future developments are impossible without a solid database. Switzerland is not the only country lacking this kind of information, which is why the European Commission has launched a study to identify the Foundations supporting science in all EU countries. The CEPS is participating in this project (“Tender Study on Foundations Supporting Research and Innovation in the EU”) with a country study on Switzerland.

The CEPS plans to carry out a more in-depth and substantiated analysis of the role of private support for science through Foundations in Switzerland. Initially, a comprehensive descriptive inventory of science supporting actions by Foundations will be produced. Secondly, the situation in Switzerland will be compared with other European countries. Thirdly, on an interdisciplinary level, the opportunities and challenges for the further development of private sponsorship of science will be identified. The results will then be integrated into the EU comparison study, which will form the basis for the next project: an interdisciplinary analysis of societal, educational and economic challenges and opportunities of private support of science. Besides funding from the EU Commission the project is receiving considerable support from the Foundation Gebert Rüf Foundation.

Publications

Start of project: April 2010
End of project: March 2014
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

More than one third of all working hours in the nonprofit sector are conducted by volunteers. Targeted coordination of volunteers can help to optimize their contribution, in the backdrop of achieving a particular goal.  Until now, literature on volunteer coordination was mostly influenced by classic Human Resource Management (HRM) practices.

For the first time, the CEPS project opposes this “functional volunteer coordination” of classic HRM to “interactional volunteer coordination.” Interactional volunteer coordination positions volunteers as an own stakeholder group in the organization and mediates between volunteers and other stakeholder groups, especially paid staff.

After an intensive analysis of literature and 22 problem-centered interviews, data from a pool of around 400 NPO was evaluated, using multivariate analysis methods. Seven dimensions of interactional volunteer coordination could thereby be identified: balancing interests & beliefs, participation & codetermination, strategic commitment, coordination beyond organizational boundaries, role clarity, team spirit of paid staff, and respect & informal appraisal. There is a significant relation between these dimensions and the desired outcome of volunteer coordination. It can be shown that interactional volunteer coordination essentially adds to HRM instruments. Further organizational features were included in the analysis as frame conditions, whereby especially resources for volunteer coordination (time, know-how) and job attributes supporting satisfaction proved to be most constructive.

Publications:

  • Studer, S. (2016). Volunteer management: responding to the uniqueness of volunteers. Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
  • Studer, S. (2013). Integrierte Freiwilligenkoordination: Ein Leitfaden für Schweizer NPO. CEPS Forschung & Praxis Bd. 9. Basel: CEPS.
  • Studer, S. / von Schnurbein, G. (2013). Organizational factors affecting volunteers: A literature review on volunteer coordination. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 24(2), 403-440.
  • Studer, S. / von Schnurbein, G. (2012). Volunteers as a unique organizational resource: Conceptualizations in practice and management responses - Lessons from Switzerland. International Journal of Volunteer Administration, 19(2), 40-51.

Start of project: June 2009
End of project: June 2011
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

The management structures of NPOs have undergone enormous progress and have become more professional in recent years. The time is right to examine the links between specific management structures and the success of an organisation and also, to determine the underlying criteria leading to certain management structures.

The starting point was a quantitative survey carried out among all certified Swiss non-profit organisations. The intention was to include only organisations demonstrating a certain degree of professionalism and depency on fundraising. Of a total of 520 organisations that were contacted, 180 organisations responded, an encouraging rate of 34.6%.

The study results were presented at numerous scientific conferences throughout 2010.

Start of project: July 2010
End of project: March 2011
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein
Partners: Prof. Dr. Daniel Zöbeli, Prof. Dr. Claus Kos

The introduction of Swiss GAAP FER 21 for fundraising NPOs in 2002 has improved and streamlined accounting procedures in the non-profit sector in Switzerland. Over time, the call to follow the expert recommendations was issued to all NPOs, as in the Swiss Foundation Code 2009 for grant-making Foundations. A first detailed description of the main accounting and audit topics for grant-making Foundations was published in the serial edition ‘Foundation Governance’ Volume Eight. The articles by eleven authors highlight economic and legal aspects and show best practice examples and approaches of how grant-making Foundations can design their accounting procedures to legal standards and improved transparency.

Publication:

  • Egger, Ph./ von Schnurbein, G./ Zöbeli, D./ Koss, C. (Hrsg.): Rechnungslegung und Revision von Förderstiftungen – Handlungsempfehlungen für die Praxis, Foundation Governance Bd. 8, Basel: Verlag Helbing Lichtenhahn, 2011

Start of project: 2009
End of project: 2010
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

Venture Philanthropy is a composite of the terms ‘Venture Capital’ (off-exchange participation in risk bearing ventures) and ‘Philanthropy’ (private voluntary action with a charitable purpose). Philanthropic objectives can be attained not only through donations, but also, for example, through the issueing of loans or allowing for participation in the equity held by charitable organisations.

A particular characteristic of Venture Philanthropy is that the beneficiaries are given access to networks, consulting services and contacts. The Foundation and its executive bodies can be active members of various boards, they coach and mentor the beneficiaries and are included in important decision making processes. Foundations and their executive body play a much more active role, which is why Venture Philanthropy is also known as ‘high-engagement philanthropy’.

In Switzerland, no legal study on questions concerning Venture Philanthropy has been carried out until now. The contributions of this research project could help to fill this gap. Different forms of financing were examined with regards to how a more active commitment of Foundations is in accordance with Swiss law.

The main aim of the study in this context was to demonstrate the risks and consequences of liability for Swiss Foundations and their executive bodies. We were able to highlight certain areas that actors within ‘high-engagement philanthropy’ need to consider in order to avoid any possible liability.

Publications:

  • Schönenberg, D.: Venture Philanthropy. Zulässigkeit und haftungsrechtliche Konsequenzen für Schweizer Stiftungen und deren Organe, Basel: Helbing Lichtenhahn Verlag, 2011
  • Schönenberg, D.: Venture Philanthropy - Haftung von Stiftungen für Strategieberatung am Beispiel des Schweizer Rechts, in: Non Profit Law Yearbook 2010|2011, Das Jahrbuch des Instituts für Stiftungsrecht und das Recht der Non-Profit-Organisationen, 2011, S. 137 - 158

Start of project: June 2009
End of project: Juni 2011
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

Associations and foundations are the most common legal forms to pursuit charitable purposes in Switzerland. There are considerable differences of these two legal forms under legal and managerial aspects. But until now there exist far more associations than foundations. In the last few years a trend to foundations could be observed. It was not only a matter of the establishment of new foundations, but also of the transformation of associations into foundations.

In this research project, it was looked into the reasons and the implications of these transformation under legal and managerial aspects. In an interdisciplinary analysis, the effects of the transformation to important aspects like member rights, control and accountability as well as the managerial consequences were analyzed.

The aim of this project was to identify an efficient proceeding for this transformation and to compile elements which give information about the benefits and feasibility of a transformation.

Publications:

  • von Schnurbein, G. / Schönenberg, D.: Legal Forms of Civil Society Organizations as a Governance Problem: The Case of Switzerland, in: International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, Vol. 12, Nr. 3, 2010, S. 90-101
  • Schönenberg, D. / von Schnurbein, G.: Transformation vom Verein in eine Stiftung: Juristische und betriebswirtschaftliche Folgen, in: Jusletter 7. September 2009
  • von Schnurbein, G. / Schönenberg, D.: Transformationen von Vereinen zu Stiftungen in der Schweiz, in: Stiftung & Sponsoring, Nr. 5/09, S. 30-31
  • Schönenberg, D.: Transformation vom Verein in eine Stiftung im Schweizer Recht, in: Zeitschrift für das Recht der Non Profit Organisationen, Heft 3/2009, S. 64-67

Start of project: January 2008
End of project: March 2010
Contact: Prof. Dr. Georg von Schnurbein

In recent years many countries have produced a number of different governance codes for non-profit organisations. We were able to identify 15 different non-profit governance codes for Switzerland and Germany alone.

The multitude of non-profit governance codes called for closer examination to find out more about differences and commonalities. The focus of this research project was on the analysis of content, design and the authors of the respective codes. The following questions were asked:

  1. When comparing the governance codes, how does the content differ?
  2. What influence do the authors of a particular code have on its content?

Publication:

  • Philanthropie Aktuell 1/2011
  • von Schnurbein, G. / Stöckli, S.: Die Gestaltung von Nonprofit Governance Kodizes in Deutschland und der Schweiz – eine komparative Inhaltsanalyse, in: Die Betriebswirtschaft, Vol. 70, Heft 6, 2010, S. 493-509