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 more than 1.2 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.
Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities
In this area of funding we aim to promote projects that are driven by a holistic understanding of man. Such initiatives recognize the individuality of people who have a need for aid. They strive, through the help offered, to attain the highest possible degree of self-determination, as well as social participation for this fine body of men.
We fund, for instance, projects of non-profitable organizations on the topics of “Living”, “Education”, “Training”, “Employment” and “Care”, as well as scientific investigations that are expected to be of practical benefit to people with a need for assistance. Not only do these projects place value on the development of sustainable relations between people with and without a need for aid (social space orientation), but they also take notice of the individual with his or her personal destiny, his or her unique resumé and his or her capabilities and needs (focusing on the person). Based on inclusive concepts, the aim is to in particular support individuals with a need for assistance in co-shaping their community, participating in society and being able to make a difference in it.
Assistance for the Elderly
In this area of funding, we see it as our task to support initiatives that develop future-oriented ways of addressing the challenges of an increasingly aging society. Besides the general demographic trends, we observe that, with an increasing tendency towards individualization, supportive family communities, as well as neighborly frameworks, marked by residents looking after one another, are increasingly being dissolved.
Against this background, we, as a foundation, are on the lookout for organizations with exemplary projects that foster social cohesion among the general population and develop supportive services for a dignified life for senior citizens. For us, innovative approaches emerge especially from projects that are involved with being an advocate for the interests of senior citizens, and, in the process, in particular aim at new forms of activities which span the generations, as well as mutual support.
Such inclusive and welfare-oriented model projects are born through civic involvement. A new culture focused on senior citizens living with confidence and joy, which is guided by a holistic understanding of man, the way SAGST encourages it, views life as an elderly person as a phase that is of particular importance, for both the personal resumé and for social coexistence. This can only come to fruition in a situation of mutual exchange, i.e. by all those involved in the social sphere both giving and taking.
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, soul, 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.