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Charities confident of another bumper year

The Swiss are among the most generous donors

(Keystone)

The Swiss were very generous in 2006, with the amount of charitable donations expected to be close to the record of 2005.

Estimates by the gfs Zurich research institute put the annual average of donations at around SFr1 billion ($820 million), slightly below the SFr1.3 billion the Swiss gave in 2005.

"Every year I'm surprised how generously the Swiss give, not only towards development aid or humanitarian activities but also for environmental projects," said Marianne Tellenbach of the charity of the Protestant churches.

She said her charity had so far collected "between SFr21-23 million this year after reaching a record of SFr23 million in 2005, notably for tsunami victims in southeast Asia.

The children's charity Terre des hommes is likely to receive a similar amount – SFr22.5 million. "The Swiss are very generous," said spokesman Pierre Zwahlen.

For its part the Catholic charity Caritas expects to receive an average annual amount of SFr24 million.

Environmental groups such as WWF Switzerland also reckon donations in 2006 will be about as high as in the previous year. The organisation collects between SFr28 and 29 million per year.

Other groups, including the charity for the disabled, Pro Infirmis, as well as the air rescue service, Rega, are both reporting an increase in donations.

Trust

Aid organisations say they benefit from an economic upswing and a solid reputation as trustworthy charities. "Many non-governmental organisations could not exist for very long without all this money," added Tellenbach.

The Swiss Solidarity foundation, the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, confirms that the Swiss are among the most generous in the world.

But it appears the Swiss prefer to give to victims of natural disasters, and less to victims of armed conflicts.

Many donors believe warring parties have a responsibility to end their conflicts, while they can't make out a guilty party in cases of disasters, said Roland Jeanneret.

Swiss Solidarity

Swiss Solidarity is the fund-raising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and other media. The money is given to 32 organisations for ...

Competitive

Competition among the charities and aid organisations has increased over the past months following an easing of regulations for fundraising campaigns.

Foreign aid organisations, including Plan International, Handicap International and Médecins sans Frontières, are forcing Swiss charities to adapt their strategies.

"Many of these [foreign] organisations are simply marketing tools. They collect money in Switzerland, but decisions on supported projects are taken elsewhere," Stefan Stolle of Helvetas told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

There are more than 430 certified charities and aid organisations in Switzerland.

In 2005, donations reached a record SFr1.3 billion - SFr934 million collected by certified agencies and an increase of about 30% on 2004. The top 20 charities received 63% of all donations.

Swiss Solidarity, the fundraising arm of swissinfo's parent company, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, works with 32 partner organisations.

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