Making the change – on a global scale – from an economic system that is exploitative and growth-fixated to one that is regenerative is the challenge of our time. We need to fight the bad and nurture the good. The fact that large corporations are able to accumulate power and frequently abuse it is a clear indication of what is wrong and unsustainable in our economic system. We therefore want multinational corporations to commit to the common good. We also want to leverage cooperative and co-creative economic systems – specifically those that promote ecological and social well-being – to bring about systemic change. We also need to improve economic policy – and politics in general. And this means we need to refine and enhance our democracy – both in Germany, and throughout Europe.
This is why we are pleased to support organizations that, through concrete projects, are working towards these very goals. We support groups that are working on the most difficult political issues of our time; and groups that are applying the most effective pressure in all the right places.
Photo: Robert Boden for Bürgerrat Klima
BürgerBegehren Klimaschutz e.V. is a non-profit association that, since 2008, has been working primarily to ensure that citizens have a say on issues relating to climate protection. Their work includes, for example, supporting and advising local action groups using citizens' initiatives and referendums (in city states). Their work focuses mainly on promoting citizen involvement and participation. At the federal level, BürgerBegehren Klimaschutz is the sponsoring organization of Germany's first citizens' assembly on climate (Bürgerrat Klima), which was launched in April 2021.
The Citizens' Assembly on Climate (Bürgerrat Klima) is the latest in a series of three citizens' assembly pilot projects that the Schöpflin Foundation has been supporting in Germany since 2017. Our Foundation is backing these projects because we want to establish citizens' assemblies (or councils) as an integral part of Germany’s political decision-making process. The Citizens' Assembly on Climate is the first of its kind in Germany. It brings together 160 people who then collaboratively draft recommendations relating to climate policy – an issue that is controversial but of huge significance for society.
The idea behind the Citizens' Assembly on Climate is to make a substantial contribution to the socially contentious debates on climate policy. The thinking is that this should not be a polarized debate but rather one that might lead to a social consensus – in other words, it does not represent or support any specific side of the argument. A citizens' assembly brings together people from different walks of life, providing them with a space and platform to talk to each other. This is an independent process with participants selected at random to reflect – on a small scale – the views held by people throughout Germany. Guided and assisted by experts, the participants jointly develop recommendations that are later submitted to political representatives. As such, the Citizens' Assemby on Climate is intended to provide policymakers with a basis for clear decisions on the direction to be taken. At the same time, the process is designed to counteract the ever increasing fragmentation of society.
Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S.
Deutsche Telekom Stiftung
Gerda Henkel Stiftung
Robert Bosch Stiftung
Through its work, the Stiftung Mitarbeit – or Foundation for Participation – supports the development of democracy using the bottom-up principle. It encourages citizens to become politically active and supports the civic involvement of everyone living in Germany. The Foundation is a supporter of the joint initiative known as ‘Förderfonds Demokratie’ (the Democracy Promotion Fund), which is made up of a total of 8 German foundations, including the Schöpflin Foundation.
The contempt that we see for democratic values today; the hostile marginalisation of minorities; the manipulation of expert findings and reports; democratic fatigue; and historical amnesia – all of these issues are giving cause for alarm to many of Germany’s foundations and to people whose work is affected by them. As a concrete expression of our concern about the development of democracy – but primarily as a sign of solidarity with and encouragement to all those people who, day in day out, shape democracy in the civil society sphere – we co-founded the Förderfonds Demokratie – or Democracy Promotion Fund. The idea is to strengthen initiatives, associations and other stakeholders in the work they do shaping and strengthening democracy in Germany.
In addition to the recognition that should flow from the awarding of this grant, the aim of this project is to raise the profile of the broad involvement – apparently often taken for granted – of many people in democracy. We expect to see greater momentum and new ideas leading to the further development and revitalisation of democracy.
HateAid provides support to those affected by online violence and thus protects our democracy in the digital age. Concerns about hate speech and cyber bullying lead people to withdraw from any online debate. HateAid provides emotional, safety-related and communications support to those affected by these types of attack. As a financial backer of civil proceedings, part of HateAid’s work is also to promote law enforcement.
HateAid aims to make the digital space a safe place for the process of shaping public opinion and policy by enabling people to interact respectfully with each other and as equals. HateAid raises awareness of the macrosocial dangers posed to democracy and freedom of expression by online hate. It works with state actors and provides help to those who find themselves in extreme situations.
Together we want to ensure that companies behind the social media platforms – and the political sphere and authorities in German - take seriously their responsibilities as far as our democracy is concerned, particularly when it comes to those affected by cyber bullying and online hate.
Head Office, Berlin plus 14 regional associations
Mehr Demokratie is the world’s largest direct democracy NGO. Its motto can be broadly summed up in the phrase »if we give up on democracy, democracy will give up on us«. So Mehr Demokratie campaigns, among other things, for the introduction of referenda at every level (local, regional and national); reform of the voting and parliamentary systems; the democratisation of the EU; and greater citizen participation.
Democracy, one of the most important achievements of the 20th century, is under attack. For the first time ever Germany, like many other countries, has a majority that is unhappy with democracy itself – not just with politics or politicians. The entire world is seeing a decline in democratisation. Mehr Demokratie wants to reverse this trend. The organisation has enjoyed some impressive successes, strikes the right note in the public conversation, and skilfully manoeuvres its way around the political arena. We have already had a positive experience of working with Mehr Demokratie, having been involved in two of their previous projects, namely: »Selbstorganisierte europäische Bürgerinitiative gegen TTIP« (a European citizens campaign against TTIP) in 2015; and the Dutch referendum on CETA in 2016-2017.
With the »Bürgerrat Demokratie« (»Citizens' Assembly on Democracy«) project, a hitherto unprecedented undertaking at federal level, we want to develop proposals to strengthen and further develop our democracy in close connection with politics. Inspired by the positive experiences of the »Citizens' Assembly« in Ireland, we want to counteract democratic fatigue in Germany by involving citizens in the political decision-making process.
Open Society Foundations
AlgorithmWatch is a research and advocacy organisation that analyses algorithm decision-making systems (known as Automated Decision-Making, ADM) used by, among others, companies and the state. The sort of systems that the organisation examines include credit screening, applicant selection and the issuing of visas. AlgorithmWatch works to ensure that these automated decision-making systems are deployed for the good of individuals and companies.
The interest that AlgorithmWatch has seen in this issue, both among the general public and from politicians and the business community, speaks for itself: There is a clear need for automated decision-making systems to be properly and critically monitored and for there to be a thorough democratic assessment of the systems. AlgorithmWatch works with the right mix of technology, regulation and appropriate supervisory authorities.
AlgorithmWatch analyses the effects of algorithm systems on human behaviour and then highlights any ethical issues. In order properly to establish the work of AlgorithmWatch and its long-term impact, its advocacy work is vital as this ensures that the messages are clearly and effectively delivered to journalists, decision-makers in the worlds of politics and business, as well as to a broad cross-section of the general public. It is with this important awareness and advocacy work that we would like to support AlgorithmWatch.
Photo: Ruben Neugebauer / Campact
European Climate Foundation
The citizens’ movement, Finanzwende e.V., is intended to be a counterbalance to Germany’s powerful financial lobby organisations. It is an independent interest group for ordinary citizens. Through campaigns, financial education programmes and consumer protection it will work towards a common goal, namely a change in the financial system, so that we can return to a situation in which the markets serve the people – and not the other way around.
There is almost no dialogue today about fiscal policy. Citizens are no longer involved in initiating new legislation or reforms. The financial lobby dominates what happens here. In order to build a politically effective counter-voice to current fiscal policy – and one that represents the interests of civil society – we need solid financial means, well-qualified people and a great deal of patience.
Together we want to ensure that the Finanzwende initiative makes its voice heard and that it becomes part of the process of devising policy. Another aim of our involvement with Finanzwende is to use start-up finance to increase public awareness of the initiative and to attract a large number of financial supporters who, long term, would ensure that the initiative is not dependent on a few large donors.News
Open Society Foundations
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights uses the law to fight for a world free from torture, oppression and exploitation and for an end to the culture of impunity. The ECCHR’s »Business and Human Rights« programme advocates that European companies that commit human rights violations abroad should face both national and European courts.
The ECCHR is a well-respected organisation with a highly-developed network of contacts around the world. It has established its reputation not least through its legal investigative work on international crimes. Its work on corporate liability in the global economy very much complements our work to date on preventing the further rise of corporate power through the EU’s trade and investment deals.
We are supporting the ECHR in its legal investigations into western companies that violate human rights outside Europe. The work is designed to provide lasting and effective legal recourse for the victims of these violations. The ECHR deploys various hard-law and soft-law mechanisms and tackles specific cases in order to eliminate practices in certain sectors of the economy - such as the textiles industry, water management and mining - that violate human rights.News
Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam
Foodwatch reinforces consumers’ rights to sufficient, safe and healthy food. The organisation publicises problems in the food industry and mobilises consumers. It proposes effective national and European laws to bring about political change, with the aim of ensuring that the food industry really does serve the interests of the consumer.
Like foodwatch, we too reject the TTIP and CETA free-trade agreements – which is why, since 2015, we have been supporting foodwatch’s campaign against these agreements. This strategically clever campaign explains the situation to citizens while also increasing an appreciation, among the media and politicians, of the problems associated with these deals. In order to continue this approach in the political sphere and to provide alternatives, we are now supporting foodwatch as it seeks to increase its profile across Europe.
We want to curb those company practices and political activities that weaken or conflict with consumer rights and civil rights – and to do this, we want to make an example of companies that act in this way and make sure that there are repercussions for them if they continue to do so. This should also serve to strengthen democracy and encourage people to get involved in shaping what might be termed »A Citizens’ Europe«.News
Photo: Jakob Huber
Cologne and Berlin
LobbyControl raises awareness of the power structures and lobbying strategies used in Germany and the EU to influence policy-makers and public opinion. The organisation advocates transparency, democratic control and clear boundaries in terms of political lobbying and the influencing of public opinion. LobbyControl’s methods include research, background analysis and campaign work.
LobbyControl carries out its work with strategic clarity and uses highly creative tools. It is an important German counterpart to the Corporate Europe Observatory, a group with which LobbyControl is working, for example, on the issue of ‘regulatory cooperation’ in EU trade deals. LobbyControl’s public relations work is also highly impressive, as are its constantly growing donations and member contributions.
Through the “Exposing the Corporate Trade Agenda” project we want to further investigate and expose the influence that corporate lobbyists have on EU trade deals (TiSA, JEFTA, EU-Mercosur etc.). We particularly want to stop the setting up of ‘shadow parliaments’ through ‘regulatory cooperation’; and once again we want to create a public outcry about this issue.
Under the direction of Shermin Langhoff, the Maxim Gorki Theater is a place where the art of making theatre is used to scrutinise how nations are built, and how identity and a sense of belonging are established - both from an historical perspective and by presenting reference points from other parts of the world. It should be a place for a society in transition that invites public debate on how we can live together in a society that is diverse.
The Maxim Gorki Theater has shown time and time again that it is clearly committed to the role and responsibility that art carries for public discourse; and at a time of ongoing political and economic crisis, this is of great importance to our society. Using Thilo Bode’s book, “Die Diktatur der Konzerne” (‘The Dictatorship of the Corporations’) as a basis, the Maxim Gorki Theater’s 2020/21 programme will concentrate mainly on three projects with accompanying discussions, providing a critical reflection on the power of corporations.
It is rare both to find unusual insights into how we live together and to discover spaces where reflection takes place on how our society cohabits; and yet these are vital if our society is to have a future-oriented and open discussion on these issues. The Schöpflin Foundation and the Maxim Gorki Theater are at one when it comes to promoting critical thinking and strengthening democratic processes in order that we constantly confront the question about the sort of society in which we want to live.
Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l'Homme
Funders for Fair Trade
The Institut Veblen advocates social and ecological change. It brings together academics, political decision-makers and players from civil society to define the adjustments needed in our existing economic, monetary and financial systems to ensure a balance between market, state and the common good. The Institute strengthens interdisciplinary networking and political mobilisation.
In June 2015, the Institut Veblen became our French partner in our campaign to involve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the debate on TTIP and CETA. As the focus is now on the EU’s trade policy as a whole, we are supporting the Institut Veblen to build a network to promote trade policy reform and the coordinated lobbying, by French civil society, of political decision-makers.
Our aim is to bring about the restructuring of EU trade policy. In future, the focus must be on democratic accountability, social justice and environmental sustainability. Negotiations currently underway on specific trade agreements must be suspended. We want to devise trade alternatives to these agreements and develop a political momentum while also reaching a broader audience.News
International and national
up to € 5,000
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring about positive change. Through its »Rapid Response Grants« the Schöpflin Foundation provides organisations and projects with straightforward and rapid financial support - enabling them to implement their innovative and sustainable ideas, projects and initiatives. The maximum grant is €5,000 per project, no applications ca be submitted.
Bundesverband Nachhaltige Wirtschaft e.V. | BNW wants its activities to show a different side of business and advocates for a more ambitious supply chain law.
Gesellschaft für digitale Ethik e.V. | As part of an action alliance, the Society for Digital Ethics is conducting an awareness campaign about the reality and risks of data capitalism. The highlight will be a (national or international) Digital Ethics Day.
Superrr SL Lab gGmbH | Digitale Zivilgesellschaft.org is an initiative initiated by Superrr Lab that promotes access to knowledge and digital empowerment.
International and national
up to € 5,000
Aktion gegen den Hunger | As part of the Human Rights Festival Berlin 2020, the »Climate Story Lab« is taking place, where work is being done on innovative, sustainable storytelling as a communication medium for communicating the climate crisis.
European Democracy Lab | On the occasion of Europe Day on 9 May 2020, »Citizens Take Over Europe« will take place all day as a trans-European online conference and offer European citizens a platform for a solution-oriented exchange on the current crisis of Europe.
Charles-Léopold Mayer Foundation
Funders for Fair Trade
The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. CEO is committed to reining in the power of corporations in order to put an end to social injustice and the destruction of the environment.
We have been supporting CEO since 2015 and we have done so because it carries out careful research that it then skilfully deploys for political campaigns. CEO has enjoyed some considerable successes. CEO plays a central role on the pan-European NGOs network scene. CEO’s work is frequently used by other organisations, journalists and politicians.
CEO's aim with the project »Challenging corporate capture of EU policy-making« is to expose excessive lobbying influence on EU trade and climate policy-making and what this means for people and the environment. In addition to lobby transparency rules, revolving door curbs and other ethics rules, CEO advocates more comprehensive measures to prevent corporate capture.
Photo: Wanda von Bremen
Generationen Stiftung is a non-partisan group that lobbies for future generations. Its main objective is to bring pressure to bear on political decision-making processes such that the legitimate demands of future generations are taken into account. Through intergenerational dialogue, and highly visible actions and campaigns by the Generationen Stiftung Youth Council, Generationen Stiftung develops solutions to the most pressing challenges faced by future generations. The Youth Council gives young and talented people the chance to hone their skills of political discourse, to devise political campaigns for intergenerational justice, and to add their voice to the political debate.
In 2019 the young-people’s Fridays4Future movement achieved enormous momentum. As a stable platform, Generationen Stiftung now wants to help turn that momentum into a long-term force. As an organisation that has been similarly inspired by the ideas of the younger generation, the Schöpflin Foundation is now supporting this initial stage of the development of Generationen Stiftung.
Our mutual objectives are to empower young people in their efforts to lead a self-determined and responsible life and to ensure that they play an active role in shaping our society. We also believe that there is an urgent need for greater public awareness of intergenerational justice and equality. In order to achieve this, we worked on the expansion of the Youth Council in order to train young people across the country to act as multipliers (or ambassadors) for intergenerational justice and equality. At the same time, we have helped Generationen Stiftung to further professionalise its activities.
»Our current problems can no longer be solved using the very methods that caused them in the first place.« This is the guiding principle of the Institut für Partizipatives Gestalten (IPG). This is why IPG’s method and process designers and architects work to find the most innovative approaches and ideas in participation-based planning and problem-solving. They then refine the ideas and add them to the range of services they offer.
We believe it is high time that the participatory design and creative processes that have long since been used in areas like town planning and landscape architecture, sustainability projects, the development of schools and education and organisation-building should now be tried out on larger scale projects. Working with IPG we want to design a piece of collaborative democracy for the EU.
There is a wide gulf between the reality of how the EU actually does trade negotiations and the ideal version, which would be a process that is transparent, democratic and participatory. Via the »Co-Creating Trade Policy« project we have explored how, in future, a process of devising solutions through cooperation could be developed and implemented. Through this project we were advocating good and innovative agreements which, above all, have the support of the majority.News
Photo: Uwe Hiksch
Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND)
German NGO Forum on Environment and Development
The Netzwerk Gerechter Welthandel emerged out of the large protests against the trade and investment agreements known as TTIP and CETA. The Network opposes these and other similar neoliberal deals. Instead it supports a trade and investment policy based on high ecological and social standards and a policy that promotes sustainable development in all countries.
The Network’s aim is to raise public awareness again of the risks associated with neoliberal trade policies and to ensure that the cosmetic changes made in recent years do indeed lead to a major change of direction in trade policy. The Network supports and promotes democratic and socially fair trade policies in the EU and around the world.
The grant was used to organise a conference on future actions and strategy. The conference took place in Frankfurt am Main in June 2018 and offered local and regional alliances and groups the chance to network and exchange ideas. Together, participants considered plans for future actions and campaigns and discussed the next steps to be taken against the ratification of CETA and other agreements.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Funder for Fair Trade
The Transnational Institute (Stichting, ANBI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world. TNI serves as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers. TNI is the legal host of the Seattle to Brussels Network, which brings together NGOs from different fields in their advocacy for trade justice.
We support Transnational Institute as the capable leader of a unique transnational consortium of NGOs with a track record of working on trade and investment agreements (Powershift, Germany; Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium; Attac, Austria; Ecologistas en Acción, Spain; Veblen Institute and Aitec, France, War on Want, UK). They complement each other geographically, in terms of their methods, target audiences and specific expertise.
By supporting the project „No more ISDS!“, we did prevent unilateral investor protection (Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement, ISDS) from expanding and from being further institutionalised to state: despite the partial victories against this “parallel justice system”, which the anti-TTIP/CETA campaign of recent years won, ISDS in its various manifestations (ICS, MIC BITs) remains an aberration.News
WeMove.EU is a citizens’ movement that promotes a better Europe. It advocates a European Union compelled to work for social and economic justice; and it stands for environmental sustainability and grassroots democracy. As citizens of Europe, we are people of different backgrounds, different cultures and different religions – and yet together we all call Europe home.
We are very concerned to see how democracies across Europe are being put under pressure. We should take the opportunity and use this European election year of 2019 to mobilise our fellow citizens to support the European project. By working with WeMove, the Schöpflin Foundation has gained a grantee-partner that wants to make a major contribution to this goal, using its Europe-wide network of almost a million people.
Through the “No to Hate, Yes to Change” campaign, we were campaigning for a high voter turnout in the European elections (23 – 26 May 2019) and hoped to encourage and revive enthusiasm for the European project