chapter  22
Pages 17

Switzerland’s foundation sector is undergoing a period of change as new tasks and expectations emerge alongside traditional values and customs. At the present time, a revised version of the country’s liberal foundation act is being discussed in parliament, and the foundations are organizing themselves into new associations. The number of foundations devoted to charitable causes has increased in the last few years, as have the assets they possess. Debate about the roles and abilities of foundations has brought together politicians, foundation representatives, researchers and other stakeholders. Indeed, Switzerland has been described as ‘a particularly enthusiastic country when it comes to foundations’ (Riemer 2001b: 512). Although a rather small country, Switzerland has a disproportionate number of foundations. Nonetheless, conducting research on foundations is no easy task. Information and data about foundations is scarce and the sector as a whole lacks transparency. Against this background, the principal aim of this chapter is to address the information gap in terms of what we know about Swiss foundations, using what existing material is available, but also drawing upon new findings gathered through interviews with foundation leaders, stakeholders and experts.