Current research projects

About the project: Philanthropy, endowments, giving and collecting play a central role in social cohesion, in orientation to the common good and the preservation of cultural heritage. The common good and cultural heritage must not be equated with social integration, but should also be viewed in terms of tension and conflict, and not only in the Western European context of our time.

Through interdisciplinary cooperation of the three humanities faculties at Heidelberg University - the Faculties of Modern Languages and Literature, Philosophy and Theology - together with the Faculties of Law, of Behavioural and Cultural Studies, and of Economics and Social Sciences, the project aims to develop the foundations for a diachronically and cross-culturally sustainable theory of philanthropy by combining social science modelling with perspectives from outside Western Europe from the fields of antiquity, regional studies, and religious studies.

Completed research projects

About the project: Learning from Partners was a scientific research project designed as a trend study that was carried out for the fourth time in 2020/2021 at the Centre for Social Investment and Innovation (CSI). The project was dedicated to the systematic evaluation of the cooperation relationship between foundations and their partners, with a focus on the performance and organizational development of the foundation. The goal was to collect systematic and comprehensive feedback from applicants, funding recipients, and cooperation partners of foundations, which should provide information on the respective working methods, organizational set-up, internal foundation processes, and the implementation of the foundation's strategy. With the results achieved, the project has, on the one hand, contributed to the optimization and professionalization of foundation activities at the organizational level and on the other hand, opened up the possibility of initiating sustainable and targeted changes in the foundation sector.

About the project: The research project was carried out in two empirical sub-studies. The first sub-study was quantitative and asked the partners of the Freudenberg Foundation about their cooperation with the Foundation, their satisfaction, their perception of the Foundation, the impact attributed to the Foundation's activities and future impulses. The second part of the study was qualitative and comprised a series of interviews with more than 50 people who were active in fields in which the Freudenberg Foundation is also active but who were not direct project or cooperation partners of the Foundation. The aim was to identify suitable impulses for the Foundation's strategic orientation in democratically challenging times.

Contact: Dr. Volker Then

About the project: In the largest research project to date on the German foundation system, an assessment of the roles, positioning and contributions of German foundations was made for the first time on the basis of an extensive database. The volume first introduces the current state of foundation and philanthropy research and the approach of Helmut K. Anheier's research group. This is followed by a comprehensive empirical picture of the German foundation system, focusing on the areas of education and training, science and research, social welfare, and art and culture. As a result, a new, multifaceted map of the German foundation system emerges, encompassing civic engagement, professionalized philanthropy, welfare state services, and nonprofit niche offerings, each of which implies different recommendations for action.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Helmut K. Anheier