26 September 2018

EFC presents a report on the legal parameters of foundation operating environments to Zurich seminar on foundation supervision principles and practices

EFC’s Enabling Environment Manager, Hanna Surmatz, has delivered a presentation on the key trends of foundation supervision from a comparative perspective to 130 participants at the Zurich seminar on ”What type of supervision do foundations have and what type do we need?”. The seminar was organised by the Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS), Swissfoundations and the Zurich University Europa Institute.

Legal mappings, such as the EFC Comparative Highlights of Foundation Laws, clearly revealed that the sector and its rules and practices are very diverse. Rooted in different cultures and legal traditions, the role of institutional philanthropy and the role of supervisory authorities differs from country to country. Kicking off by analysing the rationale for state supervision some key trends in regulation were highlighted. Historically the state wanted to control new “outside state players” that were engaging around societal tasks.

Some of the reasoning behind foundation state supervision is also rooted in the specific structure of foundations: contrary to other legal entities, foundations have no shareholders, owners or members who control the foundation board or management. Hence the supervisory authority is also seen as a tool to check on boards and management and to help protect the foundation and the will of the founder(s). In addition to preventative measures and information rights, foundation authorities also have some tools to step in where things go wrong.

In addition to monitoring and supervision activities, authorities in several European countries also provide services to the sector and give advice to new foundation initiatives. New challenges for authorities were also mentioned such as the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing policies as well as more cross-border international activities of foundations and the introduction of new technological tools.

For more information, please contact Hanna Surmatz.