Swiss Solidarity, Switzerland
- Population: 7.7 million
- Year of foundation: 1946 (informal), 1983 (formal)
- Staff size: 19
List of members:
- ADRA – Adventist Developement and Relief Agency
- Caritas Switzerland
- CBM – Christoffel Blindenmission
- CFD – the feminist Peace Organization
- EDM – Enfants du Monde
- Fastenopfer – Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
- Handicap International
- HEKS – Swiss Interchurch Aid
- IAMANEH Switzerland
- Médecins du Monde Switzerland
- MSF – Docters Without Borders Switzerland
- Nouvelle Planète
- Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation
- Save the Children Switzerland
- Solidar Switzerland
- Swiss Red Cross
- Terre des hommes – Helping children worldwide
- Terre des Hommes Suisse
- Vivamos Mejor
Private & Public Sector Partners:
Swiss Solidarity started as the ‘Chaine de Bonheur’ or ‘Gluckskette’, a radio program in 1946. It linked people together in a chain of solidarity to help ease suffering in the aftermath of the Second World War. In 1983 Swiss Solidarity was granted legal status as a foundation. Through its close connection with Swiss Radio and TV (SRG SSR), it raises funds for relief projects in Switzerland (25%) and abroad (75%).
The Foundation Council (in which SRG SSR has the majority) has overall supervision, and oversees the external strategy and budget. Every four years the criteria of partnership are reassessed. Swiss Solidarity works with 25 accredited Swiss organisations which run the relief projects. The organisations submit project proposals for approval by a project commission. Projects are monitored during execution and after completion. Relief work may last several years during which the designated earmarked funds are carefully invested and audited with a strong focus on ethical and fair criteria. The administrative costs, such as the secretariat and staff have so far been covered almost every year by the interest gained from careful investments and not by the donations from the public. However, due to very low interest rates this is increasingly difficult and Swiss Solidarity is now allowed to take up to 5% of the donations to cover its costs.
Due to its close links with Swiss radio and television, Swiss Solidarity is able to act without any delay after a major disaster. There are four levels of appeal, depending on the gravity and urgency of a disaster. The first level is to post articles on the website, the second level is to publish a press release to raise funds. The third level requests the agreement of the SRG SSR, as it includes TV spots, radio ads, and the broadcast of the appeal in relevant news items. In the case of a major disaster, the fourth and last level is to launch a national fundraising event. This includes setting up call centres, broadcasting in all Swiss language regions (a contractual commitment by SRG SSR), and using the appointed ambassadors (or ‘voices’) for each language region. The decision to start level four is based on how much funding is needed and can be processed by the partner organisations. The expectations of the public is also taken into account. Private and print media usually follow the public media when a level 3 or 4 appeal is launched. General awareness is also created by educational dossiers that are send to schools, as well as being published on the internet.
Successes and highlights
Swiss Solidarity, due to its history and its strong link with SRG SSR, is a very strong brand. It has built up trust and quality over several decades and is therefore very well known in all Swiss language regions. This makes it possible to reach out to a public with a well established consciousness for support and solidarity. Success is closely linked to the emotions expressed in the media and a challenge for the future will be to maintain this strong brand in an increasingly digital and crowded fundraising world.
Swiss Solidarity has a partnership with Swisscom that pays for all communications, telephones and the set up of call centres during an appeal. Often there is a match of donations by Swisscom employees. Partnerships are important and Swiss Solidarity wants to associate with businesses on a national as well as regional level. Partnerships with Swiss airlines, trains and banks are being explored. A review of partnership policies is planned for the near future and Swiss Solidarity has conducted a poll on donating corporations’ views of sponsorship and corporate social responsibility.
Challenges and innovations for the future
Swiss Solidarity is very conscious of the changing environment for humanitarian aid. A report commissioned by Swiss Solidarity addresses trends such as the rapid increase of new actors in the humanitarian aid sector, the increasing impact of geopolitical forces on the delivery of humanitarian aid, the need to link emergency aid to prevention and development, and the increasing demands and competition within the fundraising field. Swiss Solidarity is determined to find effective and sustainable ways to deal with these new challenges.
Although already a strong brand, Swiss Solidarity could update its image to attract younger audiences. Investments have been made in communications strategies, social media the development of a new app. For the first time Swiss Solidarity can individually address donors. There has also been engagement in the German speaking part of Switzerland every year since 2009 with public radio station SRF3’s Serious Request music event Jeder Rappen Zählt (every cent counts).