Summer 2015: 200,000…800,000…1,000,000… official estimates of the number of displaced people arriving in Germany continually lagged behind the facts. Germans worried about how their country could deal with such an influx of people. Yet at the same time, it was becoming impossible to ignore the reports about the dangers of the journey across the Mediterranean, the ruthlessness of the people smugglers and the rising number of dead. The German people wavered between helplessness, concern and the desire to show solidarity. In August 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel coined the phrase that pointed the way ahead for many citizens as the guiding principle of an outstanding welcoming culture: ‘Wir schaffen das!’ – ‘We can do it!’
This decision enabled foundations to initiate programmes related to refugees. Furthermore, in an uncertain situation, many foundations felt that the need for immediate action could better be met by cooperation and co-financing, thus expanding their regular modes of operation.
Locally, community foundations got involved, sharing know-how and combining funds from local and national sources.
At the European level, the Fund for Unaccompanied Underage Refugees, a transnational consortium of foundations, was formed under the EPIM umbrella.