Country profile


The German Civil Code (BGB) does not have a legal definition specifically for foundations. The definition of foundation is predominantly a description used for a number of legal forms, such as a legally responsible foundation under civil law, a foundation with limited liability or a foundation association. The term 'foundation' is therefore merely a generic term for a complex range of entities, which may be enshrined in private, public or church law. The foundation 'prototype' is the legally responsible foundation under civil law. It is the classic instrument for the realisation of a long-term objective and is regulated by the state foundation authorities. Even though a specific legal form cannot be automatically associated with the term, foundations do possess common features. A foundation is characterised as a mass of capital committed to a specific, long-term objective. Mostly, these objectives are non-profit in nature.

Germany’s philanthropy profile

€68 billion

Pool of assets

€10.7 billion

Total expenditure

No data

Total employment

Germany’s foundations