Learning from Partners

Goals and targets

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. The results of the research project also provided information about the activities of foundations, their impact on society, and in their respective thematic fields.

The survey waves were funded proportionally by the participating foundations. After the pilot study in 2012 with six participating foundations, eleven foundations took part in the follow-up study in 2015. Eight foundations took part in the third survey wave in 2018: the Boehringer Ingelheim Fund, the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Klosterkammer Hannover, the Software AG Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, the Wilhelm Sander Foundation. The Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, and the Volkswagen Foundation participated in the project for the third time, and the Klosterkammer Hannover, the Software AG Foundation, and the Wilhelm Sander Foundation for the second time. Six foundations participated in the fourth wave.


The core of the project was a specially developed questionnaire adapted to the specifics of European foundations, with which the CSI addressed the foundation partners to be surveyed in an online survey. All individuals and organizations that had submitted an application to the foundation at the time of the survey - in the case of Learning from Partners IV in 2019 or 2020 - that (1) had been approved or (2) rejected, (3) were receiving ongoing project funding or (4) were cooperation partners of the foundation, served as the basic population for the online surveys.

Duration (Learning from Partners IV)
2020 - 2022

Project team
Dr. Volker Then (project manager)
Tobias Schmidt
Martin Hölz

participating Foundations

> "Stiftung und Sponsoring 04/2019"
> Learning from Partners IV - Gesamtreport
> Learning from Partners III - Gesamtreport
> Learning from Partners II - Gesamtreport
> Learning from Partners I - Gesamtreport