A time to stand together

Published: 2 November 2018

Last week the Central European University in Budapest announced it would partially relocate to Vienna given the Hungarian government’s unyielding hostility to civil society and academic freedom. Around the world, civil society including academics, journalists and philanthropists, courageously pursue their mission, often at great personal cost.

We are a group of leaders of private philanthropic foundations committed to strong and vibrant civil society. A healthy, functioning democracy depends on it.

We condemn the violence directed to civil society activists globally. We deplore the growing climate of fear and intolerance in which civil society is publicly demonized, physically threatened and administratively shut down.

We stand side by side with our civil society peers.

Civil society is an essential pillar of democracy. Without it, our democracy is diminished. We are proud to support it. We stand ready to defend it.


  1. Max von Abendroth, Executive Director, Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe DAFNE, EU
  2. Knut Olav Åmås, Executive Director, The Fritt Ord Foundation, Norway
  3. Antti Arjava, Secretary General, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Finland
  4. Andre Betting, Executive Director, Van Leer Group Foundation, the Netherlands
  5. Nicolas Borsinger, Secretary General, Nicolas Puech Foundation, Switzerland
  6. Göran Blomquist, Executive Director, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden
  7. Sanne ten Bokkel Huinink, Director, Fonds 1818, the Netherlands
  8. James Chen, Chair, the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, Hong-Kong
  9. Kathleen Cravero, President, Oak Foundation, Switzerland
  10. Aart De Geus, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bertelsmann  Foundation
  11. Lothar Dittmer, Chairman of the Executive Board, Körber-Stiftung, Germany
  12. Adriana Esmeijer, Director, Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation, the Netherlands
  13. Michael Feigelson, Executive Director, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, the Netherlands
  14. Rosa Gallego, Executive Director, Spanish Association of Foundations, Spain
  15. Carrillo Gantner AO, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund, Australia
  16. Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment of Democracy, USA
  17. dr. Michael Göring,  Zeit Foundation, Germany
  18. Sandro Giuliani, Managing Director, Jacobs Foundation, Switzerland
  19. Stephen Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, USA
  20. Connie Hedegaard, KR Foundation, Chair, Denmark
  21. Mall Hellam, Executive Director, Open Estonia Foundation, Estonia
  22. Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director, Global Fund for Community Foundations, South Africa
  23. Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General, Volkswagen Foundation, Germany
  24. Massimo Lappuci, General Secretary Fondazione CRT, Italy
  25. Peter Laugharn, President and CE, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, USA
  26. Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive, Barrow Cadbury Trust, United Kingdom
  27. Joanna Luberadzka-Gruza, President, Polish Donors Forum, Poland
  28. Arto Mäenmaa, Executive Director, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Finland
  29. Bharat Mehta CBE,Chief Executive,Trust for London, United Kingdom
  30. Benoît Miribel, General Director,  Fondation Merieux, France
  31. Ieva Morica, Executive director, Foundation for an Open Society DOTS, Latvia
  32. Isabel Mota, President, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal
  33. Anke Pätsch, Association of German Foundations, Germany
  34. Hilary Pennington, Executive Vice-President of Programs, Ford Foundation, USA
  35. Nick Perks, Trust Secretary, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, United Kingdom
  36. Sigrid Rausing, President, Sigrid Rausing Trust, United Kingdom
  37. Ebrima Sall, Executive Director, TrustAfrica, Senegal
  38. Gerry Salole, CEO, European Foundation Center, Belgium
  39. Göran Sandberg,  Executive Director, Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse, Sweden
  40. Teresa Sanjurjo, Director, The Princess of Asturias Foundation, Spain
  41. Dr. Andreas Schlüter, Secretary General, Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Germany
  42. Michael Schwarz, Executive Director, Mercator Foundation, Germany
  43. Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, United Kingdom
  44. Aleksander Smolar, President, Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland
  45. Rupert Graf Strachwitz, Executive Director, Maecenata Foundation, Germany
  46. Anna Talasniemi, Executive Director, Kone Foundation, Finland
  47. Luc Tayart de Borms,  Managing Director, King Bauduoin Foundation, Belgium
  48. Sergio Urbani, Managing Director, Fondazione Cariplo, Italy
  49. Roxana Vitan, President, Romanian-American Foundation, Romania
  50. Dimitris Vlastos, The Bodossaki Foundation, Greece
  51. Katherine Watson, Executive Director, European Cultural Foundation, the Netherlands
  52. Ridgway H. White, President, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, USA