After completing its first big milestone, a new strategic setup, the Julius Baer Foundation has taken another important step by publishing its first Annual Report today. Kathrin Benz, the Foundation’s Communications & Operations Manager, tells us more about the publication and the achievements reached during the last year.
The Julius Baer Foundation is a signatory of the Swiss Foundation Code and is thus obliged to follow the following three principles: a) to execute the Foundation’s objectives, b) apply checks and balances, and c) act transparently. The Annual Report mainly covers the latter, transparency, which is required from foundations today. Furthermore, the Julius Baer Foundation has existed for over 50 years – the first of its kind at any Swiss bank – and it has thus a legitimate interest to report on its activities internally and externally.
Kathrin Benz, the publication of this first Annual Report is certainly a major milestone for the Foundation. Could you briefly sum up its main points?
This first Annual Report provides details on the following topics:
- the new strategy of the Foundation, including its core areas
- some specific projects
- the management tools the Foundation uses
- Philanthropy: the Foundation’s General Manager and the Philanthropy Advisor explain how clients can effectively achieve their philanthropic goals
In contrast to ‘ordinary’ Annual Reports published by other companies, this publication is a non-financial report. However, in order to also be financially transparent, the general public is entitled to view the grant budget and the audit report at the Foundation’s office at Julius Baer’s Headquarters.
You have been with the Foundation since June 2017. What are the main achievements of the unit so far?
Right from the beginning it has been particularly important to the Foundation’s Board Members and the Management that we have a clear profile and that we communicate what we do and what we do not do. In addition to implementing the strategy that the General Manager has defined with the Foundation Board, we have refined the Foundation’s vision and mission and revamped its visual identity. We now also publish fact sheets for each project available on the Internet. In addition, an actively managed foundation must have clear processes for selecting and managing partner organisations and projects, and we have therefore developed various working tools in this regard:
- The Grant Application form is used by the potential partner organisations for their requests.
- The Call for Proposals is a tool to search for projects within a certain core area in a specific country.
- We have furthermore set up clear Criteria Grids for project evaluations.
- Our standardised Grant Agreements with our partner organisations outline the milestones and objectives of the respective project.
- The Progress Report has to be submitted regularly by our partner organisations to ensure that we track the set targets and milestones.
- And just recently we have implemented an online Database where we manage all requests we receive and also all our partner organisations in a standardised way.
These tools aim to improve the good governance of our organisation.
How do you choose your partner organisations and their respective projects?
After a third party has submitted the Grant Application form and all relevant documents, the Foundation and the corresponding Advisory Board expert jointly assess the submitted project using our Criteria Grid tool. If a project reaches a minimum score according to the tool, it is presented to the Foundation Board, which meets four times a year and makes a final decision.
Tell us more about your next goals, please.
So far, Bank Julius Baer has been the only donor of the Foundation. Since 2017, employees have had the opportunity to support the Foundation, e.g. by donating a certain amount of their monthly salary. Since the beginning of this year, we have also been open to support from clients. In addition, we will also expand the philanthropy service and make our internal advisors’ expertise available to Julius Baer’s clients.