As European countries move away from the welfare state and towards more laissez-faire economies, foundations are springing up to fill the gap, the Washington Post reports.
Germany is witnessing a renaissance of the foundation sector after the stagnation of the Nazi and Cold War eras, said Michael Goering, director of the Zeit Foundation in Hamburg.
Changes in the German tax code have encouraged this rebirth by allowing much larger tax deductions for charitable gifts, Goering told a group of scholars and public policy workers at a recent seminar sponsored by the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies in Washington.
Under a law this year, Germans may deduct as much as 10 percent of their income plus 40,000 marks, or about $18,000.
Americans can deduct between 30 and 50 percent, depending on the nature of the charity.
The Zeit Foundation was created by Gerd Bucerius, a member of the German Parliament and owner of publications including Stern and Die Zeit.
The foundation spends about $14 million a year on grants, and is building a private law school in Hamburg. The foundation also underwrites journalism ventures in the former Soviet Union.