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Founder's introduction



About us

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Paid and unpaid work

From the beginning, we considered working for Umverteilen! to be political work for which nobody was to be paid. Decision-making was to be as independent as possible; we wanted dedicated individuals, not functionaries. Above all, we wanted to keep administrative costs low to have more money available to subsidize projects. We were not, however, aware at first of the amount of work involved in running a foundation with such a large amount of money and the complexity of the various fields of work.

The two "office staff" who joined the Foundation then continued to work for us for over thirty years. In February 2019, Uschi Zöller went into early retirement. Her duties were taken over by Nima Massarrat-Mashhadi, who is responsible for (almost) everything related to the work of the Executive Board, which includes administrative tasks, managing loans and real estate, and preparing the annual budget and financial statement. Torsten Damerau continues to work for the Foundation; he supervises the working groups, disburses funds, manages the projects we support, advises the Steering Committee, and oversees our securities investments. Both original office staff members took business management classes and completed their degrees during the first years of working for us, which was of great benefit to the Foundation, but was not reflected in their compensation. For this reason, we changed the Statutes in 2005 (with the approval of the regulatory authorities). Office staff salaries are now analogous to that of civil servants, including an appropriate pension plan.


At first, we established an office in Berlin-Kreuzberg, renting space from Stattwerke, a consulting organization for cooperative and socially conscious businesses in the alternative scene, which consulted for us as well. As the rent became increasingly expensive and we needed more space, we purchased and renovated an industrial loft in Berlin-Schöneberg in 2001. We now have a larger conference room, two offices, space for our large number of files, and a kitchen. The rear part of the loft, the former guest apartment, is now also used by the Zurückgeben Foundation.


From the beginning, we have used the services of specialists for all work that we were not knowledgeable enough to do ourselves (taxes, legal issues, investing) and have compensated them for their work.

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