Frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to (nearly) all the questions you may have about Swiss Solidarity.

About Swiss Solidarity

We usually seek out donations in the wake of major humanitarian crises at home and abroad, whether caused by natural disasters or armed conflict. Before we can raise funds for disasters abroad, three conditions must be met: the country concerned must ask for international assistance, we must have partner relief organisations on the ground to deliver the aid and the scale of the disaster must be substantial.

We take action, we make things possible and we monitor. This means that we launch appeals in the wake of major disasters, we fund our partner relief organisations’ projects with the money we raise, and we have a strict monitoring system that guarantees that funds are used wisely to provide the best possible help.

More information on how we operate can be found here.

Our operating costs are met from the interest earned on money that we do not spend immediately, but rather invest carefully. If the interest is not enough to cover these costs, we draw on our reserves. The Foundation Council allows us to put aside as reserves a maximum of 5% of the money raised in major appeals. These are drawn on only if the interest earned from our investments is not enough to cover our operating costs.

We are not certified by Zewo, the Swiss agency for fundraising charitable organisations. There are several reasons for this:

  • We are a foundation and not a charity, so we do not carry out active operations.
  • Zewo draws up a schedule of which charities can raise funds and when they can do it. As we launch fundraising appeals in the wake of major disasters, so cannot adhere to this schedule.
  • Our fundraising methods differ from those of the other relief organisations. We do not send out appeals for donations to Swiss households by post; instead, we use our own channels and the SRG media.

But we do of course adhere to all other Zewo standards.

Assistance in Switzerland

Has your home or business been impacted by severe weather? Has the insurance paid out but you still have costs that put you in financial difficulties? Then you may be able to get help through our severe weather assistance programme.

You can find out how our severe weather assistance programme operates and how to apply for support here.

In the area of social welfare, we are particularly committed to children who are victims of domestic violence, young people who have difficulty integrating socially and professionally, homeless people and people without a permanent residence.

Each area has its own permanent fund that is regularly replenished through fundraising campaigns and donations. Applications for support may be submitted only in response to a call for projects, which take place no more than once a year for each fund.

You can find information here.

We distribute the money as efficiently as possible, always ensuring that the aid projects meet the highest of quality standards. We monitor exactly how the money is used and what impact it has. We use a maximum of 5% of donated funds—in most cases, significantly less—to carry out this quality assurance and follow-up.

The NGOs may claim a maximum of 7% of the total project costs as administration costs.

Donating

The easiest way to donate is online.

Alternatively, you can request a payment slip.

An overview of the many ways to donate, including the Swiss Solidarity Rose Bush campaign and customer loyalty programmes such as BonusCard bonus points and Cumulus points can be found here.

If you donate online, you will automatically receive confirmation of your donation by email.

If you donate CHF 500 or more using a payment slip, we will send you confirmation of your donation by post.

If you do not automatically receive confirmation, you can provide us with the receipt or other proof of money transfer. Simply send us an email or call us on 058 458 12 12 .

At Swiss Solidarity, we guarantee the security and protection of your data. Donor data is processed internally only and remains confidential. Swiss Solidarity does not pass on, exchange or otherwise share donors’ addresses.

We are a recognised non-profit organisation. We are therefore authorised to collect donations and to receive bequests and endowments. If you donate money to Swiss Solidarity in any form, you can deduct the amount from federal, cantonal and communal taxes.

Direct federal tax
Donations made to charitable organisations based in Switzerland are tax-deductible on the federal level (Art. 33, Federal Act on Direct Federal Taxation DFTA). However, total donations made may not exceed 20 per cent of income. For legal entities, non-taxable donations cannot exceed 20 per cent of gross profit (Art. 59 DFTA).

Direct cantonal and communal taxes
Donations made to charitable organisations based in Switzerland are tax-deductible up to the amount set by cantonal law (Art. 9, Federal Direct Taxation Harmonisation Act (DTHA)). Please refer to the current legal provisions in your canton.

If you do not receive confirmation of your donation, please contact us. Simply send us an email or call us on 058 458 12 12.

We provide regular updates about how your donations are used on our website and through our social media channels. We explain which projects are financed with the money and how aid is provided to those in need.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information regularly by email.

You will find detailed information about the projects we fund and our finances in our annual report.

Donations which do not specify a particular appeal are put towards the appeal currently running – that is to say, where the money is needed most urgently at the time.

How donations are used

When a disaster occurs, we first and foremost fund the projects run by our 24 Swiss partner relief organisations who have already worked in the disaster-struck region and are therefore very familiar with the country and its people.

Our partner relief organisations first establish the precise needs of the local people, and then run their projects to meet these needs.

We also conduct regular quality controls to ensure that the money really does reach those who need it.

Basically, of every CHF 100 donated to Swiss Solidarity, CHF 100 is passed on to the partner relief organisations running our projects. Our operating costs are covered as far as possible from the interest earned on our investments. In years in which the financial markets perform poorly, we are permitted to use a maximum of 5% of the money we raise to meet our operating costs, but this is rarely necessary. The costs can usually be covered from our reserves, which are formed from investment surpluses and, in exceptional cases, donations. Our partner relief organisations may use a maximum of 10% of their total project costs to meet their administrative costs. At the project site, other costs may arise, such as for office space and transport, but in general around 80 out of every 100 francs goes directly to disaster victims.

Thanks to our many years of  disaster relief experience, we can say that the funds raised following a major disaster are spent as follows:

  • 15% on emergency relief
  • 70% on reconstruction and new sources of income
  • 15% to consolidate project results and hand projects over to the local people

Several years may pass before all the funds are fully spent.

Once an appeal is over, our partner relief organisations submit their project proposals to us. We consider very carefully which projects to fund with your donations, in order to ensure that the people in need get the best possible help.

First of all, our programmes department assesses whether the projects meet our guidelines. In a second step, the Project Committee for International Aid assesses the projects closely to decide whether we will fund them. The Committee is made up of experts from many fields (medicine, child protection, construction, water and hygiene, business). It makes a recommendation about which projects to fund and its decision-making body then makes the final decision.

If we decide to fund a project, we cover a maximum of 80 per cent of the total project costs, and the relief organisations may claim a maximum of 10% in administrative costs.

We deliver assistance both abroad and in Switzerland.

Read about our severe weather assistance in Switzerland here.

Private social assistance organisations that would like to support young people in need can apply here to find out whether and how they can apply for financial support from us.

In addition, we also support humanitarian organisations providing assistance to people in Switzerland who are homeless and marginalised. You can find information about this here.

Our partner relief organisations

When you make a donation, you trust us to use it wisely. We therefore have a responsibility to use your donation as effectively and efficiently as possible to help disaster victims.

That is why we work with 24 Swiss partner relief organisations who meet our very high standards.

As a result, we can guarantee that your donation is used wisely and that aid gets to the right people.

In order to become a Swiss Solidarity partner relief organisation, a relief agency must mainly:

  • be a Swiss aid organization with a charitable function which has carried out projects in humanitarian aid or children’s relief for at least three years
  • be a Swiss organization and run the operations that are to be funded from Switzerland
  • have a quality management system and guarantee transparency and accountability
  • meet the Zewo standards, in particular publishing the annual accounts in accordance with to current accounting standards

If you and your organisation would also like to become an operational partner of Swiss Solidarity and implement projects for us abroad, click here for information on the accreditation criteria and the two-stage application process for operational partners abroad (humanitarian aid and child relief).

Do you have any further questions? Then simply E-mail us or ring us on +41 58 458 12 12 during our office hours: weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.