Paid and unpaid work
From the beginning, we considered working for Umverteilen! to be political work for which nobody was to be paid. Decision-making was to be as independent as possible; we wanted dedicated individuals, not functionaries. Above all, we wanted to keep administrative costs low to have more money available to subsidize projects. We were not, however, aware at first of the amount of work involved in running a foundation with such a large amount of money and the complexity of the various fields of work.
We hired two office staff to manage the Foundation. Their salaries were to be commensurate with that of chemical technicians – after all, they were the ones whose work had generated the millions that we wanted to redistribute. The two "office staff" who joined the Foundation then are still working for us. Uschi Zöller is responsible for everything in connection with the work of the Board of Trustees, which includes investments, managing loans and real estate, and drawing up the business plan. Torsten Damerau deals with the working groups, the disbursement of funds, management of the projects we support as well as the Steering Committee. Both of them studied business management and completed their degrees during the first years of working for us, which was of great benefit to the Foundation, but was not reflected in their compensation. For this reason, we changed the Statutes in 2005 (with the approval of the regulatory authorities). Their salaries are now analogous to that of civil servants, including an appropriate pension plan.
At first, we established an office in Berlin-Kreuzberg, renting space from Stattwerke, a consulting organization for cooperative and socially conscious businesses in the alternative scene, which consulted for us as well. As the rent became increasingly expensive and we needed more space, we purchased and renovated an industrial loft in Berlin-Schöneberg in 2001. We now have a larger conference room, two offices, space for our large number of files, and a kitchen. The rear part of the loft, the former guest apartment, is now also used by the Zurückgeben Foundation.
From the beginning, we have used the services of specialists for all work that we were not knowledgeable enough to do ourselves (taxes, legal issues, investing) and have compensated them for their work.