Our Foundation has now been in existence for more than thirty years. One of the founders still serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. Several members have been with the Foundation for almost as long. There have been very few changes in Board membership, a few more in the Steering Committee. It is evident that we have all aged, and some of us have already reached retirement age. But young people continue to join all the working groups.
This continuity can be considered evidence of the success of the Foundation′s structure. Indeed, there have been no major conflicts. Even the two paid office staff – Uschi Zöller and Torsten Damerau – have worked for the foundation more than 30 years. Torsten Damerau is still working for us.
On the other hand, we must recognize that this structure is also somewhat cumbersome. Groups need more time than individuals to make decisions, and work distributed among many people sometimes falls through the cracks and gets overlooked. Most members of the Foundation have jobs or volunteer for other organizations as well, which means that they have less time for the Foundation than necessary. This is a problem for the Board of Trustees, the Steering Committee and the working groups.
As all working groups are autonomous and meet, discuss applications and make decisions on their own, the members of the Foundation get to know one another only when they meet in the Foundation′s formal bodies (Board of Trustees and Steering Committee). The working groups do not know much about each other. For many years, we attempted to support exchange by means of parties or joint discussions, but this approach was only moderately successful. Cohesion continues to be rather loose, and individuals tend to identify more with their working groups than with the Foundation as a whole.
Only in the Board of Trustees do the members of the six working groups meet on a regular basis. As they work together continuously and must make decisions regularly, they know each other better and share a common discourse. Nonetheless, it has proven difficult at times to disseminate this to the other people involved with the Foundation, due among other things to the fact that the material is complex and difficult, and the working groups have their hands full with their own work.
As the Internet makes it possible to collect and exchange information quickly by e-mail, it has resulted in a distinct improvement in communication and eased the burden of work to a certain extent.
Nima Massarrat-Mashhadi and Torsten Damerau, our office staff, contribute significantly to the Foundation′s cohesion. They really are informed about all matters (at least in their individual areas of responsibility) and can impart this information to others.
Our Foundation is flexible and not very bureaucratic. We use a relatively small percentage of our income in the service of earning that income, maintaining the Foundation and distributing funds. With the Foundation′s money (generated by others), with our time and our work, we would like to continue supporting people who refuse to resign themselves to the prevailing conditions, just as we do, and who are committed to a world in solidarity, just as we are.
Berlin-Schöneberg, March 2017