Bürgerstiftungen als Akteure der Stadtentwicklung : Erkundung der Beiträge von Bürgerstiftungen zur Entwicklung von Stadt und Region

  • Community foundations as urban development actors : investigating foundations’ contributions for urban and regional development

Wolf, André Christian; Selle, Klaus (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2009)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2009


More and more cities and regions in Germany have become increasingly aware of the community foundation concept. Since the first German US-style community foundation, the Stadt Stiftung Gütersloh, has been founded in 1996, more than 150 community foundations have been set up in cities and regions and the upward trend is still ongoing. Both the considerable growth of community foundations as well as their inherent objectives, that are to conserve, to facilitate, to support and to develop cities and regions, are justifications for their examination. Their study encompasses the observation of their activities and the search of answers to the questions on how community foundations contribute to urban and regional development and to what extent collaboration between community foundations and other local stakeholders matter. The thesis concludes that there is utmost need to go beyond the traditional grantmaking role of community foundations. On the one hand, most of the community foundations’ assets are concentrated in a handful of organisations, so that the majority of foundations only have little financial capability. On the other hand, community foundations can do more than just "writing the cheque" and financing as well as encouraging charitable projects. It is their multifunctional role that allows community foundations to contribute to urban and regional development in manifold ways. Community foundations can give impetus for the conservation and the development of cities and regions not only because they can act as grantmaking organisations, but also since they have several non-grantmaking roles, in the sense that they can arrange, acquire, moderate, run, convene and market projects. However, the character and extent of community foundations’ contributions considerably depend on the willingness of other stakeholders such as the state, the market or third sector organisations to collaborate with the community foundations themselves. For community foundations, collaboration with other stakeholders is as essential as with their donators that contribute through money, time and ideas. In particular, community foundations are dependent on the support of public stakeholders. Hence, the traditional pattern "here the foundation - there the donee" does not apply to community foundations. For the future discussion on community foundations, the results of the thesis are presented in a number of arguments. These relate to the strengthening of the multifunctional role of community foundations and the need that community foundations’ activities have to tackle local and regional needs depending on requirements. Moreover, due to the growth of community foundations, an increase in community foundations’ professionalism is necessary as well as transparency and traceability of their activities. Finally, it is argued that collaboration gives community foundations the opportunity to contribute to the development of cities and regions democratically, and that the dynamic growth of community foundations makes it necessary for public stakeholders to deal with these organisations thoroughly. The thesis closes on the note that the growth of community foundations will continue for the next decade. Thus, community foundations will increasingly contribute to urban and regional development. However, it is necessary to bear possibilities and constraints in mind if the activities of community foundations as well as of public, private and third sector organisations shall be matched reasonably.


  • Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Development [212110]