Application Period Begins for Certified Community Non-Profits: “At Eye Level” Fund Supports Volunteer Work with Refugees and Migrants

  • Bench as keyvisual of the fund
  • Members of the Expert Advisory Board
    Meeting of the Expert Advisory Board on January 9, 2017

Darmstadt/Berlin, 18.01.2017 – After a successful pilot phase, the “Auf Augenhöhe” (“At Eye Level”) fund will now offer funding to qualified community non-profits and partner organizations dedicated to integration, equal dialogue, and cultural diversity. As experts in community action, community-based non-profit groups that are certified by the Association of German Foundations can now apply for project funding in an amount of up to € 5,000 each, thereby bypassing complicated processes to obtain financial support for their volunteer efforts for refugee assistance.

A Successful Pilot Phase
As the community foundation in the Fürstenfeldbruck district can confirm from personal experience, the funds allow “more valuable time for actual project work.” Their initiative “Welcoming Refugee Mothers with Small Children” is one of eleven very different aid projects that were successfully implemented thanks to the funding provided during the six-month pilot phase. These took diverse forms, such as integration radio, training for volunteers, or job training for refugees. With a total amount of € 500,000, in 2016 the fund financed projects by certified community non-profits in Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Hessen, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt as well as in Thüringen. As of the start of the year, financing through the fund is available for community-based projects working with refugees and migrants in all parts of Germany.

More Flexibility for Community Aid
For the fund's initiators, spearheaded by the Software AG Foundation (SAGST), the most important thing is not the appearance of a quick success story, but creating room for creative development, contact, and encounters. “We want to encourage people to find unusual and creative solutions even in situations that seem firmly established,” said SAGST project manager Andreas Rebmann. “We are convinced that this requires a defined, but flexible framework.”

Cooperation with Businesses and Society
Cooperation and encounter at eye level – that is, among equals – is a central theme of the fund, which was established in 2016 under the umbrella of the GLS Treuhand bank. Numerous well-known cooperation partners from business and civil society are engaged in the fund, supporting SAGST both ideologically as well as with donations to the fund. To date, around 30 cooperation partners have offered their support and are listed at One of these is the Initiative for Community Non-Profits (Initiative Bürgerstiftungen, IBS), an arm of the Association of German Foundations, which is intensively involved with the refugee fund.  “As local experts for community engagement, community non-profits are the ideal partner,” said Ulrike Reichart, director of the IBS. “They know where there is a need for local engagement at eye level and how project ideas can best be implemented.”

Supported by Experts
IBS is an independent competence center for questions related to community non-profits; they provide information and advice for community groups, new initiatives, and individuals. IBS promotes the professionalization of community non-profit work as well as the development of the community foundation movement. This expertise is directly integrated into the Expert Advisory Board for the “At Eye Level” fund, whose goal is to ensure the quality and further development of the support program on a long-term basis. The board came into existence on January 9 and consists of a total of eight members, all of whom are experienced experts in foundation work or in refugee support.

The Expert Advisory Board
The eight-member board includes: Peter Augustin (Director of Communication and International Relations, Software AG Fundation), Lukas Beckmann (Member of the Board, GLS Treuhand e.V. and the GLS Bank Foundation), Malek Khaleel (Jury Member, Bielefelder Community Foundation), Elizaveta Khan (Director, Vereins Integrationshaus e.V.; Board Member, Stiftung KalkGestalten in Cologne), Silvie Kreibiehl (Director, UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance at the Frankfurt School and Board Member, Germanwatch e.V.), Gari Pavkovic (Integration Officer for the city of Stuttgart), Andreas Rebmann (Project Manager, Software AG Foundation), and Ulrike Reichart (Director, IBS, Association of German Foundations).

Cooperation Partners
Around 30 well-known organizations are supporting the fund, which was initiated by the Software AG Foundation and exists under the umbrella of the GLS Treuhand bank: Alanus University, ALNATURA Foundation, Andreas-Tobias-Kind Foundation, Anthropoi , Astoria Foundation, Barkhoff & Partner, Hans Erich and Marie Elfriede Dotter Foundation, Ernst-Michael-Kranich-Foundation, Freudenberg Foundation, Gemeinwohl Ökonomie, Germanwatch, GWK Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Kulturfragen, Hannoversche Kassen, Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen Ottersberg, KOMPASS Projekte, Mehr Demokratie!, Michael Stiftung, NORDMETALL-Foundation, Paul Schatz Foundation, Edith Maryon Foundation, Evidenz Foundation, Foundation trias, Triodos Bank, WALA Foundation, and the Waldorf Foundation.

Community Non-Profits Supported To Date
In Germany, around 307 community non-profits currently carry the quality seal of the Association of German Foundations. These community groups are independent non-profits organized by citizens on behalf of citizens; all kinds of people in a city, community, or region can get involved with them. Ten of these, as well as the community foundation for the Fürstenfeldbruck region, took part in the pilot phase of the refugee fund. The participants in the pilot phase included non-profits in Chemnitz, Halle, Isernhagen, Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Stuttgart, Weimar, and Wiesloch, the Foundation for Children and Families in Melsungen, the Wiesbaden Foundation and the community non-profit in Unser Schwabach.

Software AG Foundation
The Software AG Foundation (SAGST) is an independent, non-profit foundation organised under German law and based in Darmstadt. SAGST is not a corporate foundation, but a principal shareholder in the Software AG company, also based in Darmstadt. With the profits on an endowment of around one billion euros, the Software AG Foundation has been funding selected projects since 1992, supporting independent non-profit organizations who provide an immediate benefit to the community. We consider it a special aspect of our work to actively initiate new projects that achieve the essential developments and objectives identified in the foundation's charter (version dated May 02, 2016). Adherence to the “Guiding Principles of Good Practice for Foundations,” adopted by the Association of German Foundations in 2006, is central to how we work. For more information, visit:


Peter Augustin
Director of Communications and International Relations
Software AG Foundation
Am Eichwäldchen 6
64297 Darmstadt
Tel. +49 6151 91665 146

Franziska Rötzsch
Initiative Bürgerstiftungen
Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen
Mauerstr. 93
10117 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 897947 95