The Hertie Foundation
The preamble to the foundation’s constitution states: "The Hertie Foundation is based on the life’s work of its founder, Georg Karg, owner of the Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus department stores, who died in 1972. He was a man who felt a duty not only towards the company and its employees, but also towards the common good, to which he dedicated his fortune. His life and work are a model and a benchmark for the foundation’s work.
The assets belonging to the Hertie Foundation are dedicated to the common good, making them similar to public funds. This gives the foundation a mission and a duty, so it is swift to act and innovative, and also cost-conscious and efficient."
Mankind is at the heart of our work. We find solutions that benefit people and that lead to concrete improvements in living conditions. Our funding areas are set out in the foundation’s constitution: neuroscience, democracy training and European integration. Within these fields we invest in people and develop projects that serve as sources of inspiration, role models and disseminators.
In our fields of activity we combine innovation and sustainable foundation practice. In line with the foundation’s motto “Inspiring. Enabling. Achieving.”, we have a will to create, we combine conceptual and operational actions, follow long-term goals, see ourselves as a learning organisation and follow the effect and cost effectiveness principle. In order to make the most effective use of resources, the foundation focuses on best practice solutions. It makes a point of contributing its own expertise and its own specific experience. In order to be able to initiate new developments in its project work, the foundation always provides fixed-term support.
The Hertie Foundation provides the impetus to spur on other community actors. It helps people to help themselves. This means that it expects beneficiaries to make an appropriate contribution as well. In an era when government actions have to be supplemented by citizens’ initiatives, the Hertie Foundation sees its work as a contribution to an active civil society.
Our areas of activity
Anyone who wants to initiate ideas and instigate change needs to be constantly on the move. With its project portfolio, the Hertie Foundation remains true to the work and intention of its founder, but it is also committed to implementing its projects in modern ways, in keeping with the times. Within its areas of activity, the Hertie Foundation follows best practice. As a reform foundation it creates incentives and leads its projects “to market” with the aim of establishing them on a long-term basis.
In the area of neuroscience, the foundation promotes research and dialogue on the subject of the brain and combatting brain disease. Key areas are support for clinical brain research (in particular through the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research) and multiple sclerosis. In addition, the foundation supports neuroscience initiatives for innovative forms of research, education and communication.
With an average funding budget of nine million euros per year, the Hertie Foundation is the biggest private funding body supporting brain research in Germany, and the third largest in Europe. In the area of multiple sclerosis, the foundation is the leading funding institution both for MS research and self-help for MS sufferers.
Our Strengthening Democracy area covers projects that safeguard social cohesion in Germany and the rest of Europe.
Democracy is about more than elections every few years – democracy, as we see it, forms the basis for peace, freedom and security, and is a pillar of our society. However, democracy involves a constant process of consolidation. And now this process is in danger.
Democracy is taken too much for granted. It is being eroded: by governments’ inadequate efforts, which are reflected in dwindling public confidence; by injustices caused by capitalism; by citizens’ feelings of powerlessness; by unsuccessful integration; by a lack of education and an unthinking approach to information; by media hysteria and many other factors.
People’s confidence in the ability of the established political powers to solve problems is dwindling. The results? A strengthening of the political fringes, populism, new nationalism, ‘alternative facts’, political apathy and non-voters. We want to convince people – the younger generation in particular – that a commitment to democracy is worthwhile.
Head office in Frankfurt
The Hertie Foundation is based at Grüneburgweg 105 in Frankfurt’s Westend district. More than almost any other city in Germany, Frankfurt am Main is home to a vast number of foundations, benefactors and patrons. Community service has a long tradition here that stretches back centuries. The Hertie Foundation is actively committed to the city. Many important pilot projects have been started in Frankfurt and have been rolled out on the basis of experience gathered here. In addition, the foundation has often supported, and continues to support, projects of considerable importance and size in Frankfurt. These include the reconstruction of the Old City Library (Literaturhaus) and the extension of the Städel Museum.
Berlin is the political, cultural and creative capital of Germany. It is also an important location for the Hertie Foundation. The Berlin office is the interface between the foundation head office in Frankfurt and the projects in Berlin. It monitors and comments on political and social developments in the capital for the benefit of foundation staff in Frankfurt. In recent years, the staff in the Berlin office have developed a stable network of supporters, partners and friends of the foundation in Germany’s largest city. The branch office organises events to spread awareness of its projects and areas of interest to the people of Berlin.
Would you like to know more about the Hertie Foundation? In our Foundation Profile you can find many interesting facts and figures.
Where we come from
The Hertie Foundation carries on the life’s work of its founder, Georg Karg, the owner of the Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH (department stores) who died in 1972. In order to perpetuate his plans, the board of the Hertie Family Foundation implemented an idea initiated by Karg’s children and heirs, Brigitte Gräfin von Norman and Hans-Georg Karg, and established the "Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft, Erziehung, Volks- und Berufsbildung" (Non-profit Hertie Foundation for the Promotion of Science, Education, General and Vocational Education) on 10 December 1974. The Foundation is registered in Frankfurt am Main.
97.5 per cent of the shares in the Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH were channelled into the Foundation. In 1998, the Foundation sold its shares in Karstadt to Quelle, thus dissolving its ties with the company. Since then four major projects with an independent legal structure have been established or institutionalised: Today’s Hertie Foundation “family” comprises the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the START-Stiftung gGmbH in Frankfurt am Main.
The Hertie Foundation