Swiss foundations operate in a permissive legal environment. But although they don’t have to disclose publicly what they do or how they do it, Beate Eckhardt, chief executive of their umbrella body, SwissFoundations, argues that there are good reasons why they should at least think about it. She tells Charles Keidan how she believes peer learning and a voluntary foundation code are helping to develop a sense of purpose and maintain public confidence.
Would you say there's a specifically Swiss tradition of philanthropy?
I believe so. The Swiss political system provides the opportunity for its people to take responsibility for, and become involved in, their society, not only by their vote but also by their actions. Apart from being very generous in their giving habits, Swiss people do six million hours of voluntary work a year to help others. Another very important pillar in our civil society is Swiss charitable foundations. The trust in this system is very high in the country and we hope to keep it that way by further raising awareness of the possibilities and influence of the sector.