The new generation of Swiss philanthropy

Etienne Eichenberger

When she was 23, Anna’s* parents proposed to her and her three brothers aged 16, 18 and 21 that they engage in the family’s philanthropic activities. They were given a four-year budget and complete freedom to donate to projects of their choice. The only conditions were to personally get involved in the projects they wanted to support, to maintain regular contact with the beneficiaries and to visit them in person. ‘My parents and grandparents always taught me to share,’ explains Jacques, their father. ‘We want to go further with our children. Not only teaching them to give by themselves, but also making them understand that they are very privileged. We also try to encourage them to spend time together. It is essential that they remain close to one another.’

This family is one of a number of other family groups in Switzerland who are preparing the next generation to establish a public interest foundation or to create a donor advised fund to facilitate their engagement in philanthropy. These entrepreneurial families face two challenges: to prepare their children’s inheritance and, of equal importance, to prepare their children for that inheritance. But what are the expectations of this new generation in Switzerland?

Defining their role and contribution in philanthropy

Based on individual experiences, and in response to growing interest from new generations in philanthropy, the NewGen Council on Family Philanthropy was created in 2016 to encourage best practice exchanges among peers, and to define their individual roadmap for their philanthropy. This global initiative is interesting in that its initiators are based in Switzerland: the umbrella foundation Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, WISE philanthropy advisors, the Family Business Network and the Polaris initiative.

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