The term “foundation” is not protected - any association or company can call itself a foundation. Because of this, a very wide variety of “foundations” exists.
Despite this, we use the term in the sense determined by the rules of German foundation law, which governs so-called “Vollstiftungen” (full foundations), which are also known as “Stiftungen bürgerlichen Rechts” (civil law foundations). These foundations must undergo a rigorous official approval process with the authorities in the region in which the seat of the foundation is located. After approval is obtained, the provincial government continually and thoroughly monitors such foundations.
Another key difference between civil law foundations and other forms of foundations (such as associations or companies) is the fact that full foundations are legally bound to preserve their endowments, and must follow the original directives and intentions of the organization’s founders.
Yet another significant legal difference can be found in the tax status of these foundations. Especially in the case of foundations engaged in public interest or charitable work, very significant tax exceptions are available. Such organizations enjoy very high limits for tax-exempt, or tax-deductible grants and contributions.
“ethecon – Foundation Ethics & Economics” is a full foundation in the sense of German foundation law. It was examined, approved, and formally registered as such by the foundations authority of the Berlin Senate under the case number 3416/701-II.2.
Since ethecon is both a public-interest and a charitable organization, it qualifies for the maximum tax benefits under German foundation law. Further information about the tax status of the foundation can be found here.