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Digital Foundations

Unleashing the potential: digital transformation in Swiss foundations

In the era of rapid technological advancements, digitalization has emerged as a transformative force across industries worldwide. Switzerland finds itself navigating the opportunities and challenges brought forth by the digital age. Within this context, Swiss foundations are increasingly recognizing the need to embark on a journey of digital transformation.

Navigating digitalization and transformative shifts in Switzerland

Switzerland, often referred to as the "Land of Precision", has long been recognized for its remarkable achievements in various fields. From its breathtaking landscapes to its renowned Swiss watches, precision engineering, and global financial services, Switzerland has carved out a unique identity in the world. However, like many countries, Switzerland faces its own set of challenges, particularly in the realm of digitalization. While the country is known for its stability and efficiency, it has grappled with certain pain points when it comes to embracing the digital revolution, and is now at a critical juncture where it must adapt to the rapid advancements in technology to maintain its competitive edge.

The aging population in Switzerland poses a notable challenge, particularly in terms of productivity growth. With a considerable number of workers nearing retirement, the country must proactively leverage digitalization to enhance productivity and bridge the potential gap. Estimates suggest that embracing digital transformation can bring about a much-needed productivity boost of around one percentage point annually until 2030 across advanced economies, including Switzerland. This transformative potential cannot be underestimated.

Switzerland requires proactive measures to address challenges and seize opportunities, successfully navigating this changing landscape. Two conditions are key for the country: accelerating digital transformation and investing in reskilling initiatives.

Swiss companies need to go beyond merely implementing new technologies. They require a fundamental redesign of business models, customer journeys, and operational processes to embed a "digital first" strategy. This entails utilizing emerging technologies to deliver enhanced customer experiences, improve operational efficiencies, and drive people-centered innovation. Simultaneously, reskilling the workforce is crucial to ensure that individuals possess the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the digital age. It involves investing in continuous learning programs, upskilling initiatives, and fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability. By reskilling the workforce, Switzerland can build a talent pool that is ready to embrace emerging technologies and contribute to the digital transformation of industries.

Swiss institutions have recognized the urgency to innovate and have taken proactive measures to address this imperative, striving to create an environment that fosters digital transformation. For example, The Federal Council of Switzerland has established the Digital Switzerland strategy, which aims at positioning Switzerland as a leading digital nation. 

The Swiss education system is being adapted to meet the demands of the digital age. Efforts are being made to integrate digital literacy and technology-related subjects into the curriculum at all levels of education. Furthermore, initiatives such as coding workshops and digital skills training programs are being implemented to equip both students and the broader population with the necessary competencies.

A tangible example


ated not only exemplifies the endeavor to enhance digital literacy and explore technology-related fields, but also embodies the determination to evolve and meet the demands of the digital age. Formerly known as "Associazione Ticinese Elaborazione Dati" (Data Processing Association of Ticino), ated recently went through a rebranding including an acronym change to "Evoluzione Digitale" (Digital Evolution). Such path reflects its forward-thinking approach to embracing the advancements in technology and its dedication to equipping individuals and organizations with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a digitally-driven world.

In terms of innovation, Swiss institutions are actively supporting research and development in digital technologies. Funding programs are available to promote innovative projects and startups that contribute to the transformation.

Collaboration between universities, research institutions, and industry partners is encouraged in order to drive technological advancements and promote digital innovation ecosystems.

Facts about Swiss foundations

Switzerland hosts a significant number of important foundations. As outlined in the Swiss Foundation Report 2021, the country boasts more than 13,000 active foundations making pivotal contributions to diverse sectors such as education, research, culture, and social welfare.

Significantly, the aforementioned report recognizes foundations as substantial catalysts for innovation in Switzerland. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there has been a mounting focus on digitalization within Swiss foundations in recent years. While only a few have fully embraced digital transformation, many have acknowledged the paramount significance of incorporating new technologies into their operations and strategies. This observation is echoed on a global scale, as evidenced by a survey conducted by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which found that 92% of Non-Profits worldwide believe that technology can significantly enhance their effectiveness in fulfilling their mission.

Foundations are poised to experience growth and transformation in line with the evolving times. The pervasive trend of increased digitalization will be instrumental in ensuring that foundations remain transparent, effective, and relevant. Dr. Peter Buss, the founder of StiftungSchweiz and NonproCons AG, highlighted the significance of embracing digitalization in his article titled "Dare to Digitalise". He emphasized that many organizations are still at the early stages of their digital journey, and that avoiding this topic is no longer a viable option. The acknowledgement of the importance of digitalization indicates that foundations need to be proactive to stay ahead, adapt to changing circumstances, and leverage the opportunities offered by the digital era. According to Dr. Buss, the role of donors will also undergo a significant transformation. They will emerge as the true drivers in the donation business, taking proactive action to support projects or organizations of their choosing, rather than waiting to be approached for support. The motto will be for donors to decide and act on their own accord, and digitalization will play a crucial role in enabling this shift. This change will have implications for major donors and funding foundations, as they will increasingly seek out projects themselves, rather than solely relying on applications and requests for funding.

Philanthropy is a robust and growing sector in Switzerland, and the challenge now lies in diversifying funding sources and improving the efficiency of foundations themselves. At the same time, Swiss laws are expected to update to provide protection, regulation, and increased transparency within the sector, ensuring a strong and trustworthy philanthropic landscape in the country. The convergence of digitalization, donor empowerment, evolving funding practices, and legal reforms will shape the future of philanthropy in Switzerland, driving positive change and impactful initiatives in society.


active foundations in Switzerland


foundations created in 2021: a new foundation for every day of the year



of Non-Profits are “Digitally Mature”, and they are four times more likely to achieve their goals



of respondents for the Salesforce Non-Profit Trend Report say technology helps drive efficiency and improve mission impact

Activating a digital foundation

Innovation, digital transformation, automation, cybersecurity, and sustainability are buzzwords that are commonly discussed in various sectors, including the Non-Profit sector. However, it is important to identify the true priorities on the agendas of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in this sector and understand the challenges they should be mindful of. CIOs play a critical role in leveraging digital technologies to drive strategic impact within Non-Profit organizations.

One key priority for CIOs is to understand digitalization is a driver of human capabilities, not a substitute. While technology is essential, it is the people who ultimately drive the mission and goals of Non-Profit organizations. Technology should be used to enhance human experiences, empower stakeholders, and create meaningful connections.

Speed is another crucial factor. Digital transformation initiatives need to be executed with agility and efficiency. Technology solutions should enable rapid implementation and iteration, allowing foundations to respond to changing needs and seize emerging opportunities.

Furthermore, it is essential to foster a culture of innovation within foundations. By encouraging creativity, experimentation, and collaboration, the potential for groundbreaking solutions and transformative change can be unlocked. 

To achieve these objectives, a strong digital foundation is essential. It encompasses the organization's ecosystems, mindset, current capabilities, and executive buy-in. It provides the necessary infrastructure and skills for a successful transformation.

Agility, particularly in the digital realm, is of paramount importance for Non-Profit organizations. Being digitally agile means being proactive, flexible, and innovative in utilizing technologies to meet evolving needs. With this approach, foundations can keep up with the times and stay relevant in the rapidly changing landscape in which they operate, seizing the opportunities presented by technological advancements to enhance their operations and better serve their beneficiaries. In today's era, organizations face evolving societal challenges, shifting donor expectations, and the need to leverage technology for greater impact. Digital agility enables Non-Profit organizations to respond swiftly and effectively to these dynamic circumstances, ensuring their relevance and sustainability.

According to a survey conducted by Non-Profit Tech for Good, 55% of donors worldwide prefer to give online, highlighting the increasing importance of digital channels for fundraising. As a consequence, Non-Profits need to embrace digital agility to effectively engage donors through online platforms, social media, and mobile technologies. By being agile, organizations can employ these channels to reach wider audiences, cultivate donor relationships, and generate support for their causes.

A tangible example

Croce Rossa Ticino

Croce Rossa Ticino (Ticino Red Cross) serves as a prime example of how digitalization enables foundations to effectively connect with their audience. The adoption of HubSpot CRM software has revolutionized contact management and public relations, replacing the traditional reliance on paper-based communication methods. By incorporating customized forms for collecting personal data, the organization has unlocked the potential for implementing impactful digital marketing strategies, facilitating targeted and timely communications and fostering a meaningful relationship with users and supporters. Moreover, the implementation of these forms has enhanced service management efficiency and internal organization within Croce Rossa Ticino.

Furthermore, digital agility enables Non-Profits to respond to emerging societal challenges and deliver their programs and services more efficiently. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had to quickly transition to remote work, virtual events, and online service delivery. Those who displayed flexibility and adaptability in leveraging technology were better equipped to adjust, ensuring seamless operation and uninterrupted assistance to their beneficiaries. According to a report by NetHope, digitally agile Non-Profits were able to respond faster to the crisis, adjust their strategies, and deliver services remotely, thereby meeting the pressing needs of their communities. However, agility should not be regarded solely as a reactive measure during times of crisis; rather, it must be embraced as a proactive approach that permeates the organization's culture and daily activities. By proactively planning and advocating for agility, Non-Profit organizations can pave the way towards a more agile future, ensuring that digital agility becomes an integral part of their operations and their way of navigating uncertainties, responding to evolving challenges, and seizing opportunities with adaptability and resilience.

Moreover, digital agility facilitates data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement. By harnessing digital tools and technologies, Non-Profit organizations can collect and analyze data, gain insights into their operations and impact, and make informed decisions. This iterative approach allows organizations to experiment, learn from failures, and refine their strategies, ultimately driving greater efficiency and effectiveness in achieving their mission.

With the right technological support, such as project management software, collaboration tools, and data platforms, organizations can optimize their operations and improve coordination among stakeholders spread across different locations. These tools facilitate efficient communication, real-time data sharing, and seamless collaboration, enabling teams to identify critical areas for intervention and swiftly respond to emerging challenges. A study by Harvard Business Review found that by leveraging technology effectively, organizations can enhance their agility, streamline processes, and achieve greater impact in their work.

Strategic digital partnerships

The implementation of cutting-edge tools enables foundations to automate a number of processes, allowing them to concentrate on the most strategic aspects of their work. By relying on digital partners implementing innovative tools, organizations can streamline repetitive tasks across various domains, including administration, management, marketing, sales, and after-sales.

What does digital transformation mean for Non-Profits?

As aforementioned, foundations in Switzerland are increasingly aware of the transformative potential of digitalization. In fact, digital transformation for Non-Profits is not focused solely on generating revenue but also on utilizing solutions to maximize their potential impact and services. This transformation involves adopting new software and tools to streamline internal operations, harnessing the power of social media to expand their reach and engage with stakeholders, and utilizing data analytics to make strategic decisions.

The following data points emphasize the crucial role of digital ecosystems for Non-Profit organizations:

  • Expanded Reach and Donor Engagement: According to the Global NGO Technology Report, 71% of NGOs worldwide have a website, enabling them to reach a broader audience and engage potential donors online. Non-Profits leveraging social media platforms for fundraising campaigns have reported a significant increase in donations. For instance, GivingTuesday's online fundraising campaign raised over $511 million in 2020, a 25% increase from the previous year. The Digital Outlook Report by Care2 found that 64% of Non-Profit professionals consider digital channels as the most effective for donor acquisition and engagement. 

  • Enhanced Efficiency and Resource Optimization: Non-Profits that implement digital tools for internal operations and project management can experience improved efficiency and cost savings. For example, the Non-Profit Technology Network (NTEN) found that 81% of organizations using cloud-based software reported increased productivity. The Non-Profit Trends Report revealed that 77% of Non-Profits consider investing in technology and digital transformation as a top priority to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Data-Driven Decision-Making and Impact Measurement: Digital transformation enables Non-Profits to collect and analyze data, leading to better-informed decision-making processes. Non-Profits leveraging data analytics tools can measure their impact and communicate it more effectively to donors and stakeholders. A study by Salesforce.org indicated that 88% of high-performing Non-Profits track their program outcomes using technology.

  • Operational Resilience and Adaptability: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital transformation for Non-Profits to ensure business continuity and adapt to remote work environments. A survey by the Non-Profit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) reported that 91% of Non-Profits implemented new digital strategies due to the pandemic. The Non-Profit Trends Report found that 85% of Non-Profits believe technology helps them respond to unexpected events and adapt to changing circumstances.

Digital transformation challenges faced by Non-Profits

Non-Profits face several challenges when undertaking this kind of innovation path, which can vary according to organizational size, resources, and the specific context in which they operate.

Below is a common range of challenges Non-Profit organizations encounter when navigating the path of digital transformation:

  • Limited Resources:  Many Non-Profits, including Swiss foundations, operate with limited financial and human resources. This can pose challenges when it comes to relying on professionals to address digitalization strategically, investing in technology infrastructure, acquiring digital skills, and managing ongoing maintenance and upgrades.

  • Resistance to Change: Implementing digital transformation requires a shift in organizational mindset and a willingness to embrace change. Resistance to change from staff members, board members, or volunteers can hinder the adoption of new digital tools and processes. Some individuals may be hesitant to embrace technology due to lack of familiarity or concerns about job security. Overcoming this resistance requires effective change management strategies and clear communication about the benefits and importance of tech-driven transformation.

  • Data Security and Privacy: Non-Profits handle sensitive donor information and other confidential data. Ensuring data security and privacy compliance becomes a critical challenge in the digital era, especially with the implementation of cloud-based solutions and online platforms. Non-Profits need to invest in solid cybersecurity measures, train staff on data protection practices, and adhere to relevant data protection regulations. Swiss foundations, in particular, may also have to deal with compliance related to Swiss legal frameworks and regulations governing foundation operations, including digital activities, such as the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA).

  • Skill Gaps and Capacity Building: Non-Profits often lack the necessary skills within their teams to effectively implement and manage digital transformation initiatives. This skill gap can hinder the organization's ability to utilize technology to its full potential. Capacity building efforts, such as training programs, partnerships with technology experts, or collaboration with IT service providers, can help address these skill gaps and build capabilities within the organization.

  • Integration and Interoperability: Non-Profits often rely on multiple software applications and systems for different functions, such as fundraising, program management, and donor relationship management. Ensuring seamless integration and interoperability between these systems can be challenging, leading to data silos and inefficiencies. Non-Profits need to carefully evaluate their technology infrastructure and invest in solutions that can integrate with existing systems or provide platforms to streamline operations.

Overcoming these obstacles demands a strategic and comprehensive approach to digital transformation. It entails meticulous planning, inclusive stakeholder engagement, capacity building, and a nimble mindset to embrace emerging technologies.

"Ander Group moved us from a descriptive communication to telling a more emotional story.
And that made all the difference."

Jacopo Crespi / Jr Communication Specialist

IBSA Foundation


How can Non-Profits embrace digital transformation?

By adopting an integrated strategy that encompasses all facets of their operations and activities, foundations can fully harness the potential of tech-driven transformation. To begin, they need to develop a clear and comprehensive digital strategy aligned with their mission and goals. This involves defining the desired outcomes, identifying priority areas for change, and establishing a roadmap for implementation. Strong leadership and governance are crucial for successful digital transformation. Foundation leaders should champion digital initiatives, allocate necessary resources, and foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptation, staying updated on emerging trends and technologies and making necessary adjustments to optimize outcomes. 

Digital transformation is not a solitary endeavor. Foundations must prioritize capacity building and forge partnerships with technology experts to enhance their journey. Expert guidance is invaluable in crafting tailored strategies and providing ongoing support during the change process, in order to guarantee sustainable growth over time.

Effective change management is indeed crucial to instill a mindset that embraces innovation, recognizing it as a means to improve work quality and streamline operations. Additionally, foundations must invest in robust and scalable technology infrastructure, including cloud-based solutions and data security measures. This ensures compliance with regulations, safeguards business data, and promotes efficient workflows. Outsourcing this process can ensure its success, as opposed to haphazardly attempting to keep up with the times, which can lead to dissatisfied staff and inconclusive outcomes. Opting for a strategic partner with comprehensive skills and extensive networks can provide end-to-end support, encompassing change management, software development, and the strategic governance of all digital and analog touchpoints.

The opportunities of digital transformation for foundations

Adapting to the digital age opens up a plethora of benefits for foundations in Switzerland and beyond.

Here are some notable advantages and transformative outcomes that Foundations can attain by embarking on their digital journey:

  • Donor Engagement and Fundraising: Digital transformation opens up new avenues for donor engagement and fundraising. Foundations can leverage online platforms to connect with donors, share impact stories, and provide convenient donation mechanisms. Fundraising campaigns, crowdfunding, and personalized donor experiences can help attract and retain donors, leading to increased funding opportunities.

  • Greater Transparency and Accountability: Swiss foundations have consistently earned the Zewo Foundation quality seal, a prestigious accreditation that underscores their commitment to upholding exemplary levels of transparency and accountability. This certification serves as a testament to the imperative for foundations to adhere to these rigorous standards in order to distinguish themselves within their sector. Through online portals and reporting systems, foundations can provide real-time updates on their activities, financials, and impact. This transparency builds trust with donors, grantees, and the public, demonstrating the responsible use of funds and the impact of their work. In addition, being digitally agile allows foundations to adapt to changing donor behaviors and expectations. Donors increasingly seek transparency, engagement, and personalized experiences. By embracing digital technologies, foundations can connect with donors in meaningful ways, cultivate relationships, and facilitate seamless and secure online giving experiences. 

  • Improved Communication and Outreach: Digital tools enable foundations to enhance communication and engagement with stakeholders. Foundations can benefit from channels such as websites, social media, and email marketing to effectively reach and communicate with donors, grantees, and the wider community. This leads to improved visibility, increased awareness of foundation activities, and strengthened relationships.

  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: Foundations gain access to data analytics tools and platforms, allowing them to collect, analyze, and derive insights from data. They can thus make informed decisions based on data-driven insights, identify trends, measure impact more accurately, and optimize their grantmaking strategies accordingly.

  • Enhanced Efficiency: Technological advancement streamlines foundation operations by automating manual processes, reducing paperwork, and enhancing workflow management. Foundations can harness cutting-edge tools and platforms for grant application and management, financial tracking, and reporting, leading to heightened efficiency and alleviated administrative burden.

  • Access to Global Networks and Collaborations: Digital transformation facilitates collaborations and partnerships on a global scale. Foundations can connect with other organizations, share knowledge and best practices, and collaborate on joint initiatives through digital platforms. This enables the exchange of ideas, fosters innovation, and increases the potential for impactful collaborations.

A tangible example

IBSA Foundation

IBSA Foundation recognized the immense opportunities presented by digitalization and made a strategic decision to harness its potential to advance their mission effectively. In Ander Group, we employed HubSpot to create a user-friendly website that can be easily managed and updated to align with their evolving needs. Leveraging HubSpot's performance measurement and optimization features, we are able to track and analyze their website's performance over time, making data-driven improvements for optimal results. By integrating their social media channels into their digital strategy, IBSA successfully promotes science in a straightforward and impactful manner, reaching a broader audience and fostering engagement with their mission.


In conclusion, digital transformation offers significant benefits for foundations operating in Switzerland. Embracing innovative solutions and strategies empowers them to enhance their operations, strengthen donor relationships, and drive greater social impact. By leveraging technology, Non-Profits can streamline their processes, increase efficiency, and reduce administrative burdens. Improved communication and outreach through digital channels enable organizations to expand their reach, engage stakeholders effectively, and raise awareness about their work. Data-driven decision-making allows foundations to measure and evaluate impact more accurately, leading to more effective grantmaking strategies.

Digital fundraising campaigns and personalized donor experiences provide opportunities to attract and retain donors, ensuring a sustainable flow of funding. Moreover, digital transformation enhances transparency, accountability, and trust by providing real-time updates on activities, financials, and impact. 

It also opens up avenues for collaborations and partnerships on a global scale, fostering knowledge exchange and innovation. In the Swiss context, where philanthropy is strong and the sector is evolving, embracing digital transformation positions Non-Profits at the forefront of social change. By harnessing the power of innovation, foundations in Switzerland can maximize their potential, create lasting positive change, and contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable society.

At Ander Group, we have supported numerous Swiss foundations on their digitalization journey, prioritizing a human-centered approach that promotes the value of people and strategic thinking. Our mission is to guide these foundations in overcoming barriers and equipping them with the necessary tools to recognize the significance of embarking on this transformative path. We aim to ensure that the foundations we work with understand the inherent value of technology, accompanying them toward the achievement of their goals. 


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