• Dr. Günter Kast

Donating is a profession.

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Commitment. Ise Bosch is the granddaughter of Robert Bosch, who founded the largest private foundation in Germany. She herself is also involved as a donor in areas that are close to her heart. With "Besser donenden" she also launched the first German-language book title on the subject in 2007.

Giving is happier than taking. This sentence from the New Testament is probably not more firmly anchored in any German entrepreneurial family than in the global corporation founded by Robert Bosch in 1886, which reported sales of more than 73 billion euros in 2016.

Today, 92 percent of the GmbH is owned by the foundation of the same name, one percent (with the voting rights of the foundation) is held by Industrietreuhand KG, the family holds only the remaining seven percent. The grandfather's will finally says, "I don't want to grow drones in my family."

Ise Bosch, born in 1964, has always followed the wishes of her grandfather. When she was born, she already had one million marks in one account - an anticipation of her inheritance to save taxes. Later on, larger sums were added again and again - the lion's share when her father died in 2004. She won't tell you how much money it was in total. But it is also involved in several charitable organizations, which it co-founded and co-financed (see page 111). It was not difficult for her, she said, because donations and endowments had always been the purpose of life for her parents, and she was so influenced and educated from an early age. Even as a girl, she says, she had collected for wool blankets for the Red Cross and the Müttergenesungswerk.

Ise Bosch's father Robert junior retired from the company at the age of 43 as managing director and was paid out just like his sister. With a considerable part of their assets, they founded the Heidehof Foundation, which supports the disabled and highly gifted and is involved in seniors' education and ecological issues. Ise Bosch's mother was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. She "was always on the phone talking to people who needed money. For us, money always meant endowment. The company was much further away from us," Ise Bosch once admitted in an interview.

It acts according to the same principle. She could lead a luxurious life from the interest on her inherited fortune alone. Instead, it lets its capital work for others, for a better world. And personally makes sure that the money arrives where it brings the greatest benefit.

In contrast to their siblings, who own larger Bosch shares, their share is now only "tiny. It cannot quantify its value exactly, because the value of a GmbH like Bosch, a company that is not listed on the stock exchange, cannot be determined exactly on a daily basis.

However, Ise Bosch also inherited a block of shares from her father. She knows the value of this portfolio very well, because she manages it herself, without a consultant. For many years she has been investing it according to sustainability criteria - partly in shares, partly in direct investments and partly in loans and microcredits for founders in India. Your experience with asset managers: They can't > do better, they also make mistakes. "And then," she says, "I might as well make the mistakes myself."

Such sentences make it clear: Ise Bosch has never made life easy for herself as an heir or as a benefactor, always wanted to learn new things, professionalize giving, as is a matter of course in the United States and has a long tradition.

In the USA she therefore seeks knowledge, education, and takes courses for philanthropists: "Public speaking is also taught here. It is important to be able to rhetorically represent one's concerns well if one is to be convinced and persuaded to donate". She completes leadership training there, learns to ask the right questions: What's wrong with the company? Where can I make a difference with my money? "I took the time to formulate a personal mission statement."

All this has helped her to find out in which charitable areas she wants to be active and what she wants to achieve there. On-site visits show how to manage complex projects and how to deal with difficult ethical issues. Why, for example, it can be more important to support the (abstract) development of a certain drug than to give money for (concrete) individual fates.

"I understood there: Foundations need a value base. People in the team who are themselves affected by the topic," explains Ise Bosch. And: "You have to involve as many groups as possible. Above all, however, "I have enjoyed the self-evidence with which donors appear in public in the USA. In Germany, there's a certain shyness about it."

In contrast to many American founders, however, she is not a friend of the "private can do better". This does not make sense "because the state moves completely different sums of money. In 2016, the volume of donations, including distributions from foundations, amounted to around 5.5 billion euros in Germany, whereas the budget of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs alone was 130 billion euros. Only to insult these institutions and constantly accuse them of mismanagement and inefficiency would not help anyone, but would only undermine confidence in the political system and democracy. "Arrogance is the last thing we need."

Of course, the ministries have their weaknesses, but: "There are open doors there. But you have to step through them yourself. There are many good government support programs that you only have to find. For example, we then contribute ten to 25 percent private third-party funds to get a project up and running. We're making a real impact on the ministries."

An example? In Malawi, Africa, it supports groups that stand up for human rights and gender diversity and fight discrimination against homosexuals. If, however, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) cuts aid because it sees a regression in these issues, things get complicated. There was unrest in the country because of the shortage of fuel - but the anger of the demonstrators was not directed against the government, but against homosexuals, who were ultimately to blame for the bottlenecks.

According to Bosch, the development ministry is now first seeking contact with the local base in order to avoid such unwanted consequences. But this had been actively pushed, "many thick boards had to be drilled".

Her conclusion: Those who are not prepared to deal with such complex topics in terms of content are probably better advised with donations than with working in a foundation or even setting up such a foundation. That's her advice at all: "Not everyone has to set up a new foundation of their own."

She herself has always done both, donated and donated.

In her youth, she mainly donated, often sending cheques to projects she considered important. But she quickly realized that it didn't work like that: "It is enormously labor-intensive to find organizations all over the world that use the money in my way. That's why I'm working full-time today. Donating and donating is a profession. But of course there are good foundations that can bring money to the right places, for example community foundations. It's easier and safer than donating directly."

What she learned in the USA: To say no. "I reject many things because they don't suit me thematically. But once I have found a topic, I support it with as many different strategies and approaches as possible. And: This works better if the project is clearly defined. Culture, movies, for example, I don't get my hands on it. I don't know enough about that."

To say no is also important in the private sphere, for example to friends who wanted to borrow money: "A lot went wrong there". In her book of donations, Ise Bosch writes that "money issues lead us precisely to our inner cruxes. One of those sticking points: Which friendships fit, which don't?

Her experience: "For wealthy people, friendship only works with truly independent people. Independent in the sense of independent of material prosperity, regardless of whether they themselves have much or little. I get to know such people for example through my husband in the parish of a small village in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This is a very lively, pleasant dialogue. They don't really want to trade places with me."

Friendly relations, on the other hand, are difficult, "if there is a vague feeling: they are not at peace with themselves. They are afraid of social decline, they lack the self-confidence that comes automatically when you know that you can make a living yourself. This may affect the upper class as well as the middle class."                   >

However, sudden wealth can be just as unsettling as the fear of social decline. Many of the women who inherit unexpectedly large sums of money first test out what they can allow themselves and how their environment reacts to it. In the second phase, they then think about a social commitment, but often do not really know how to do it. The women often do not come from families where community spirit has been learned and internalised. A guilty conscience, coupled with fainting, is the result. This is where we come in, trying to help."

Her advice: "Talk to your families about the inheritance in time and intensively, because it is a complex issue."

She confesses that Ise Bosch did not feel guilty about her inherited wealth. But it could also "not recognize anything fair. You just have to make the best of it. Inheritance is a destiny, just like talent or beauty." However, she may not comment on the current reform of inheritance tax at the moment. The topic is very complex with regard to her personal situation. But one thing is clear: "It is not good for a democracy if assets are distributed very unevenly. Something has to be done. After all, there are much more egalitarian societies than Germany, for example in Scandinavia."

She doesn't want to make public how much money Ise Bosch donates and donates: "But it's a multiple of what I consume for myself." If her investment portfolio is doing well, she will of course have more funds available from this pot. But she is very careful about how much of it she puts into foundations. Once the money has arrived there, it must ultimately be managed in accordance with rigid investment principles.

"In the current low-interest phase, the foundation model is de facto dead," she says with regret. A fiduciary foundation or better still a non-profit GmbH (gGmbH) would be more flexible. For example, it would make sense to provide them with only a small amount of share capital, but with high special reserves which could then be freely disposed of.

Their portfolio currently looks like this: 42 percent bonds and closed-end real estate funds, 41 percent equities "above which lies a deep green filter", for which human rights count and the sustainability criteria of oekom research are applied, 17 percent are direct investments with higher financial risks, for example investments in small and medium-sized enterprises in the so-called Third World, partly also via funds.

Ise Bosch likes such "impact investments" (see also the article on page 78), microcredits for women for example - "often the better creditors". Here capital investment and social commitment are interwoven: "Such investments are part of my investment portfolio, but I have only a modest expectation of a return in order to be able to take greater risks. All in all, it is of course Ise Bosch's aim to achieve as high a return as possible in order to have as much as possible ready for good causes, "to give money sensibly and happily," as she puts it. Her financial wealth is what she calls "my working material".

And what if, like most people, she had only a few hundred euros of this "working material" at her disposal? "I would give such a sum to someone else who would not otherwise donate. Let him or her decide for themselves: Who gets something? Who gets nothing? This person might find that it feels really good to give to others."


Ise Bosch - a life as a full-time philanthropist.

Ise Bosch, who now lives near Hamburg, grew up with five siblings in Stuttgart and attended a Waldorf school. She studied history at Reed College in Portland (Oregon) and later jazz bass at the Berlin Conservatory. After that she was a musician in various bands in Germany for ten years. She has been a full-time philanthropist since 1990 and is involved in several charitable organizations, which she co-founded and co-financed.

01 "filia. die frauenstiftung", whose aim is to promote projects and organisations worldwide that directly support girls and women in improving their living conditions. Ise Bosch was one of the co-founders in 2000 and was a member of the Board of Management from 2003 to 2011. She has been a member of the Investment Committee since 2010. Contact: www.filia-frauenstiftung.de.

// 02. "Dreilinden gGmbH", which stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as well as transgender and intersexual people. Dreilinden promotes the social acceptance of gender and sexual diversity through the allocation of funds to existing organisations, project funding, social investments and networking. Ise Bosch is founder and managing director. To date, it has made more than 40 million euros available to the Foundation. Contact: www.dreilinden.org.

// 03. "Pecunia", a network of heiresses currently with 117 members, is intended to encourage socially responsible management of inherited assets. Ise Bosch co-founded the network in 1998 and is an active member. Contact: www.pecunia-erbinnen.net Ise Bosch was also a member of the Ethics and Sustainability Advisory Board of Oeco Capital Lebensversicherung from 2004 to 2016 and was a member of the Investment Committee of GLS-Gemeinschaftsbank from 2006 to 2012. Since 2008 she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Berghof Foundation, a platform for civil conflict transformation, and since 2014 of the Trägerverein des Deutschen Instituts für Menschenrechte. She has also been a member of the LGBT Advisory Council of Human Rights Watch since 2009. Since 1996, she has been the founding donor of the International Fund for Sexual Minorities of the Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation in New York, which campaigns for LGBT human rights. She also wrote the book "Besser donenden" (www.besser-spenden.de).


Author: Dr. Günter Kast

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