Board of Trustees
Only members of a working group can belong to the Executive Board. New Board members are proposed by the working groups and then jointly appointed by the Board and the Steering Committee.
The Board is made up of six members. Nominally there is a chair and a deputy chair, but only for the purposes of outward communication. In actual practice there is no hierarchy among the Board members. Most decisions are made consensually and never against the express wish of any of the members. There are no procedural rules. Experts are called in when problems arise that the Board cannot solve itself.
The Board meets regularly about every six weeks and is responsible for managing the Foundation′s endowment, ensuring that decisions are carried out and that the working groups have what they need, representing the Foundation to the outside world and for drawing up a budget.
There are two main criteria governing the management of the Foundation′s endowment: the money must be invested securely (gilt–edged) and in a way that is compatible with the goals of the Foundation. The latter is not always easy to determine and has to be continually reevaluated.
We give a limited number of loans, which are usually used for purchasing collective property. But we also buy properties and real estate, which we lease on a long–term basis to groups or projects. This has the advantage of keeping the property from being privatized.
The conditions for borrowing money from us or entering into a long–term lease agreement with us are essentially the same as those of a bank. We evaluate the economic viability of a project, and our loans are limited to no more than sixty percent of the value of the property. We insist on timely repayment and do not hesitate to press charges in the case of default. On the other hand, we are also flexible enough to be able to react in an extraordinary way to extraordinary circumstances — but only if we are informed and involved ahead of time and our income is not put at risk.
We invest the rest of our money as diversely as possible in fixed deposit accounts, fixed–interest securities and investment fund shares.
We own an apartment building in Berlin–Kreuzberg which we do not manage ourselves. We make an effort to keep the rents reasonable and the maintenance up–to–date. The revenue goes to the Foundation. We also own a converted industrial loft, half of which we use ourselves, the other half we rent out.
We occasionally are given endowment contributions, but we do not actively fundraise.
To date, approximately 80% of the surplus from investments has been used to fund sponsored projects, with the rest going toward strengthening the Foundation′s endowment.
Until 2006, an average of 15% of the Foundation′s grant activity came from donations and subsidies. Since then, this source of income has almost entirely disappeared. This means that the working group budgets are now entirely dependent on the revenues generated by the Foundation′s endowment — in other words, on interest payments and rental income. They are also significantly affected, unfortunately, by the interest rate fluctuations on the capital market (see Our finances).
Claudia Spiller is the contact person for the Board in the Foundation office.
The Board members are:
Ute Apell (Africa working group)
Kai Rohrßen (Asia working group)
Michael Schwartzkopff (dritte Welt — Hier! working group)
Regina Weps (Women′s Issues working group)
Marly Borges (Latin America working group)