The development of philanthropic organisations in Switzerland

Raymond Saner, PhD, University of Basle & Director, Diplomacy Dialogue, CSEND, Geneva
Paper presented at the “Seminar on Administrative System Reform of Public Service Units”, 21-22 September 2013, Beijing, China.


Philanthropic organisations (POs) share similar vision like the NGOs in regard to solving social issues through private initiates, yet typically POs fall into the grant making categories and often focus on critical sectors like health and education. In recent years, POs have emerged as important complement to the UN specialised agencies in regard to development cooperation and broader debate on development effectiveness. (flow chart)

The term philanthropy is generally used to “describe any private voluntary action for the public good. It can encompass donations and investments of time, money, expertise, connections, and many other types of assets (Foundation 1796, p.9)


POs have a greater ability to take on greater risks and to test and introduce innovative approaches to specific challenges that are of public interest. The best known philanthropist in this regard is Bill Gates. The Bill Gates and Malinda Foundation have an endowment of 34 billion USD from Bill Gates’ private fortune. One of the key goals of the Bill and Malinda Foundation is to prevent communicable diseases through better immunisation programmes such as polio; or guaranteed availability and access to HIV or Malaria treatment, or improving the education system. 

pdf Article