Learning from Partners

Goals and Targets

The research project “Learning from Partners” is designed as trend study and is being conducted at the Centre for Social Investment (CSI) for the third time in 2017 / 2018 with eight participating foundations. The project aims at systematically evaluating the cooperation and the relationship between foundations and their partners. The focus is on the foundation´s overall performance and its organizational development. By collecting a systematic and comprehensive feedback of the foundations´ applicants and grantees, the project provides insights into the foundations´ functioning, their internal operations and the implementation of the foundations´ strategies. On an organizational level, the results contribute to an optimization and professionalization of foundations´ work. On the macrolevel sustainable and target-oriented changes for the sector can be nudged. Additionally, the project informs about foundations´ activities, their position and impact within the respective thematic fields and within society as a whole.

The survey waves are founded by the participating foundations proportionally. Six foundations had participated in the pilot study 2012, eleven in the follow-up wave in 2015. In the current third survey, there are eight participating foundations: the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, the The Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal Environmental Foundation), the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Klosterkammer Hannover, the Software AG Foundation, Stiftung Mercator, the Volkswagen Foundation and the Wilhelm Sander-Foundation. Out of this group, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Stiftung Mercator and the Volkswagen Foundation have joined in for the third time, the Klosterkammer Hannover, the Software AG and the Wilhelm Sander-Foundation for the second time.


The project´s core is a specifically developed questionnaire that considers the characteristics of German and European foundations. The data collection is carried out via online surveys.  The populations consist of all persons (and organizations) whose application to a foundation within a period of one year – in the case of Learning from Partners III it has been 2017 – (1) has been granted or (2) declined, (3) who received funding during this period or (4) who maintained a cooperation with the foundation.