Philanthropy and donor advisory in Germany

The differences between charities are significant, the many non-profit organizations are hard to navigate, and the market mechanisms of the free economy do not apply to the donation market. Therefore, the advice of independent experts can make a big difference in the impact of a donation.

But where can you turn for expert advice and recommendations on donating in Germany? In this still young field, it is probably doomed to fail to objectively assess or even compare the quality of advice. There is no such thing as the best donation advisor. It is more important that philanthropists and donors find the advice that is right for them. 

Questions like these can help guide you: Do you primarily want to support projects in Germany or do you see more potential in international projects? Do you want to be presented with the widest possible selection of nonprofits or do you prefer a smaller, more rigorously curated selection? Is it important for the consultant to have working relationships with funding organizations or do you value independence? Do you feel more comfortable with a large, broad-based consulting organization or do you find a smaller team more appealing? Do you like the idea of gaining the necessary knowledge and recommendations primarily digitally, or do you prefer a face-to-face exchange?

At Effektiv Spenden, we are a non-profit donation platform that recommends international organizations that have been scientifically proven to have a high level of impact and have been rated exceptionally well in direct comparison to other organizations. To achieve this, we work closely with several research groups, particularly those associated withEffective Altruism. Our advice focuses on areas where particularly high impact can be achieved, specifically in fighting poverty, mitigating climate change, improving animal welfare, safeguarding the future and defending democracy.

In addition to our donor advisory service at Effektiv Spenden, there are also several other providers in Germany. Here, we offer brief descriptions to give an initial overview of these providers.

Active Philanthropy

Active Philanthropy supports donors, donor families, philanthropic organizations, and social investors who want to engage in climate protection. To this end, Active Philanthropy offers "expertise and expeditions to learn more about the impacts of the climate crisis."

The range of services offered by Active Philanthropy includes strategy development and analysis as well as grant management services. With the "Climate Starter Kit," Active Philanthropy particularly supports foundations in positively shaping the climate impact of their own foundation. An interactive online course, released in spring 2022, also supports philanthropy experts in taking action on climate change.

Active Philanthropy is led by the founder Felicitas von Peter.

bcause

bcause – The Giving Fintech presents itself as "your digital foundation that can do much more." Users can open a tax-deductible account. They can then choose from a growing number of curated organizations and select the projects they want to support. The organizations are categorized according to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organizations can be supported through donations, loans or investments in impact funds.

It is also possible to bring your own organizations that you would like to finance onto the platform. bcause enables users to connect with other users on individual projects or topics, for example to exchange information or join forces for joint projects.

bcause is led by Susanna Krüger and Felix Oldenburg.

Deutsches Zentralinstitut für soziale Fragen (DZI)

The DZI is essentially a database listing around 1,100 donation-collecting organizations in the fields of social services, environment, and nature conservation. It provides information on several hundred of these charitable organizations. In particular, it allows access to profiles of approximately 230 organizations that have received the so-called DZI Seal of Approval. The majority of the evaluated organizations are based in Germany.

The DZI also offers donation consulting services. The DZI is led by Burkhard Wilke.

Phineo

Phineo is a "non-profit analysis and consulting firm for impactful engagement." With currently over 70 employees, Phineo supports policymakers and administrations, welfare organizations, foundations, operational non-profit organizations, companies, investors, and major donors. Its services include strategy and goal development, organizational development, project development and support, impact analysis, cooperation and matching support, training and education, and donation support.

Selected additional projects by Phineo include the campaign "Deutschland rundet auf," support for corporate volunteering at large companies and DAX corporations, and the project "Kommune 360 Grad." They have also examined over 1,000 social organizations, primarily in Germany, with about 30% of them being awarded the "Wirkt-Siegel for outstanding engagement" by Phineo.

Phineo is led by Dr. Andreas Rickert.

Professional Philanthropy

Professional Philanthropy is a consulting service of the political scientist Dr. Sabine Jung. Services are offered in the areas of strategic consulting and conception, training & coaching as well as operational management and process support. Sabine Jung addresses non-profit organizations, private companies, universities and research institutions as well as philanthropists.

In philanthropy consulting, Professional Philanthropy advises and supports both individuals who are already engaged in philanthropy and want to expand or optimize their efforts, as well as serving as a strategic partner for individuals or teams looking to become philanthropically active for the first time through initiatives such as founding a foundation or a social enterprise.

Sinngeber

"Philanthropy is the appreciation of wealthy individuals and families towards society. It is an attitude that manifests across generations while keeping the future of people and creation in mind." With these words, philanthropist Tobias Merckle, social entrepreneur Marcus Witzke, and philanthropy expert Andras Schiemenz introduce their philanthropic Family Office Sinngeber. United, among other principles, by "Christian values," they aim to inspire others to engage more deeply in philanthropy.

Sinngeber offers consulting services on charitable donations, setting up foundations, impact investing and social business and helps to establish the necessary financial structures. Implementation support and performance monitoring are also part of the range of services. 

Wider Sense

Wider Sense advises organizations on "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), social commitment and social investments."

In the analysis phase, Wider Sense prepares reports on markets, topics, trends, and industries. This enables their clients to achieve maximum impact with their social engagement, philanthropic activities, and social investments.

In the strategy phase, Wider Sense develops tailored strategies and programs for social change that meet their clients' needs. This includes creating measurable objectives and defining specific implementation steps. During the implementation phase, Wider Sense assists their clients with project management, grant administration, and project success evaluation.

Wider Sense is led by the founder Michael Alberg-Seberich and Stephan Dorgerloh.

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This short list shows that philanthropy consulting is still a young field in Germany. In any case, the list of providers is so clear that you can visit any of them on the Internet and get your own differentiated picture. In any case, the differences in focus, target groups, topics covered, geographical areas and the scientific basis of the recommendations are large enough to make it worthwhile to take a closer look.

If you would like to make use of our donation advice service, simply call us on 030 / 260 355 19  write us an e-mail or directly arrange an appointment here . As a recognized non-profit organization our donation advice is free of charge and independent.

About the author

Stefan Shaw Avatar

Founder & Head of Donor Advisory

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