The Software AG Foundation (SAGST) is an independent charitable foundation under German civil law with headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. We are not a corporate foundation; rather, the foundation is the principal shareholder in the Software AG company, also located in the research town of Darmstadt. The founder of both the company and the foundation is Dr. h. c. Peter Schnell, who in the 1990s transferred his company shares to the foundation.
Since the 1970s, Peter Schnell has been among the most successful IT entrepreneurs in Germany. In 1969 he founded the Darmstadt Software AG, which he led until 1996, turning the company into one of the leaders in data processing.
For the entrepreneur, financial success was always only the “means to a higher end,” as Dr. Manfred Klett–pioneer of the Demeter movement–emphasized in his laudatory speech in 2002, on the occasion of Schnell’s being honored for his service to the foundation.
“Money for the sake of riches or power was always anathema to him. Even in the earliest years of the company, whenever there was a need or something new was emerging, he came to the aid with generous assistance,” said Klett in his speech. As chairman of the board, Peter Schnell to this day actively shapes and influences the foundation.
The foundation holds around 1.5 billion euros in assets and uses the profits to support projects run by independent charitable organizations in Europe and Brazil. The projects we support directly and exclusively serve the common good. In addition, we see it as a special task to actively initiate projects that enable foundational and overarching developments and projects in keeping with the foundation’s charter.
Our foundation possesses its own asset management team whose investment strategy pursues ideological as well as financial goals, setting human beings and human development in central focus. In light of this background, we donate around 25 million euros per year, on average, to support various non-profit organizations as well as scientific advancement in the following areas:
At its heart, education is about interpersonal encounter. We also recognize that upbringing depends on role models, and education on developing the possibilities and powers already present within each child or adolescent. Education should occur in a way that honors young people as the authors of their own biographies, as creates important foundations for a lifelong willingness to learn as well as for healthy personal development.
In reform pedagogical kindergartens and schools as well as in like-minded training centers for educators, we see these ideas at play in different, but consistent ways. These can be sources of important new impulses – including for the public education and school systems. We support independent schools and institutions that adopt a reform pedagogical or other alternative approach, as well as research projects on related themes. In doing so, our foundation is able to contribute to the development of the entire educational system.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH
We support projects for children and young people that strengthen them in their individuality and help them to reach their developmental potential. Important aspects include acquiring social and community experience as well as practical skilled crafts and artistic activities.
The spectrum of supported projects ranges from preventative work with parents and early enrichment, to mobile social workers, living facilities, inpatient youth work, work with dropouts, and projects who achieve their aims with cultural-educational activities.
In selecting projects, it is important to us that there are qualified, professional, or volunteer adults working with young people. In addition, applicants must be youth welfare programs in accordance with § 75 of the German Child Welfare Act and should be able to demonstrate a local as well as institutional network.
DISABILITY CARE AND ELDER CARE
We see it as our mission in disability care and elder care to support initiatives that focus on the human encounter.
The focal point of our support in disability care is integrative concepts that allow stable, lasting relationships to develop between individuals with and without assistance needs. In addition, projects must consider and value each individual’s life story, abilities, and needs. In light of these aims, we support especially those projects that enable individuals with disabilities to find a meaningful place in society and to make a contribution to it.
In elder care, our foundation seeks alternative models to large retirement homes and anonymous care structures as well as new forms of intergenerational civil engagement that will enable us to care for our elderly now and in the future. That is why we support projects whose proposed solutions respect the dignity of the elderly, as well as alternative ways of handling an aging society where family structures and neighborhood communities are dwindling.
Our aim is to make anthroposophical medicine, seen as a complement to conventional medicine, accessible to as wide a circle of patients as possible.
For this to happen, complementary healing therapies must have a research and university presence, and complementary medicine must be able to engage in discourse with conventional medicine. In light of this, we support the qualification of scientists in this field by funding post-docs as well as endowed chairs and professorships at various universities. Another focal area is supporting the training of anthroposophical doctors.
These efforts require a long-term and multi-layered perspective, which is why this area of support is a focal area of the foundation.
NATURE AND AGRICULTURE
We support the use and shaping of nature by humans. This should on one hand preserve humans’ relationship with nature, and on the other hand sustain the natural world to ensure the basis of life for future generations. Forms of nature conservation that isolate human beings from nature are not among our support goals.
In this area, we concentrate as a foundation on researching and applying living contexts, as well as on training biodynamic agricultural practices. Special areas of interest include soil fertility and seeds, keeping and breeding plants and animals suitable for organic or biodynamic farming (without genetic engineering), as well as increasing the quality of food to enable the healthy nourishment of body, soil, and spirit.
Existing research methods in this area should be adapted and expanded by developing new approaches that do justice to the living core of the natural world, and which are not limited to its material side.