Bertelsmann Stiftung

June 28, 2020 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 27, 2020 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
December 13, 2012 fww5007

An independent foundation based in Gütersloh, Germany, the Bertelsmann Stiftung's goal is to contribute to social reform and development by exchanging ideas and expertise across borders.

Mission and Purpose

The Bertelsmann Stiftung describes its mission as underpinned by the core principles of freedom, solidarity, and goodwill.[1] As an organization, it aims "to strengthen society and help individuals reach their full potential by developing the resources needed" to achieve their goals and face challenges resulting from globalization and demographic and technological change.[1] Thus, its programs hope to "provide access to the necessary knowledge and expertise while developing solutions that can help ensure this is the case."[1]

Origins and Development 

Founded in 1977 by German businessman, Reinhard Mohn, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is "predicated on the belief that financial wealth entails social responsibility."[1] Mohn "believed in individual responsibility and decentralized management," so he aimed to facilitate this beyond his business endeavours, for every individual.[2] The foundation was formally approved on March 14, 1977.[2]

Over time, "the foundation expanded its international perspective," recognizing the applicability of its mission and projects beyond Germany's borders.[2] Since 2008, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has been represented in Washington, D.C. by the Bertelsmann Foundation North America which takes a transatlantic perspective on global challenges.[3]

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The full organization structure is delineated in their articles of incorporation.[6] In general, the Bertelsmann Stiftung's work is "grouped into programs, each of which is led by a member of [the] Executive Board."[7] Projects are grouped by topic and activity, a list of which is available on the foundation's website. The Board of Trustees, made of individuals interested in the organization's work with "leadership experience and insight into social progress," acts as an advisory and controlling body. [7] In accordance with the articles of incorporation, the Board of Trustees supports the "foundation’s ongoing development, oversees its executive management and, together with the Executive Board, makes decisions on matters of key importance."[7]

Bertelsmann Stiftung is a privately operating foundation, so it funds its own philanthropic projects and initiatives via the Bertelsmann Group.[4]

As per Mohn's original conception, the "foundation works in an interdisciplinary manner with researchers and experts in the field and maintains close contact with public and private institutions," striving to strengthen civil society.[2]

As a non-profit foundation, it is overseen by the district government of Detmold and engages in tax-privileged activities exclusively and directly in accordance with the relevant tax regulations.[5]

Specializations, Methods and Tools

The organization's "objective is to promote research and understanding in the areas of religion, public health, youth and senior affairs, culture and the arts, public education and career training, social welfare, international cultural exchange, democracy and government, and civic engagement."[8]

With each project, a proposed model or solution is developed, which the organization aims to then implement, with the help of relevant expert knowledge. The solutions subsequently become accepted practice in the relevant sector, are "adapted for use by project partners or they continue to be jointly implemented within a cooperative framework."[8]

Major Projects and Events

As of June 2020, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has 70 ongoing collaborative projects, where they engage in dialogue with international experts, institutions, and organizations.[9] More details on these projects can be found on their website.[10]

One of their projects, the BTI Transformation Index "analyzes transformation processes toward democracy and a market economy in international comparison and identifies successful strategies for peaceful change."[11]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

In recent years, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has had to contend with criticisms regarding its non-profit status and growing political influence as well as its perceived neoliberalism. However, the organization maintains that it is politically neutral in nature and contests claims that it lacks democratic legitimacy.

Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!


The Bertelsmann Stiftung's publications are available on their official website.[12]

See Also

A Different Kind of EU Summit: Citizens' Dialogue in The Hague


[1] Bertelsmann Stiftung. (2020). Our Core Principles.

[2] Bertelsmann Stiftung. (2020). Learning from the World: Why Reinhard Mohn Founded the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

[3] Bertelsmann Foundation. (2020). Transatlantic Perspectives on Global Challenges. BFNA.

[4] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2020). Principles: The Beliefs Behind Our Work.

[5] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2019). Satzung der Bertelsmann Stiftung.

[7] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2020). Board of Trustees.

[8] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2020). Principles: The Beliefs Behind Our Work.

[9] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2020). What We Do: A Look Behind the Scenes.

[10] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2020). Our Projects.

[11] BTI Transformation Index. (2020).

External Links

Wikipedia: Bertelsmann Stiftung