Our history

From a radio programme to the largest private humanitarian aid donor in Switzerland. Discover how it all begun.

Happiness for everyone!

“Y’a du bonheur pour tout le monde” – “There is happiness for everyone” The story of Swiss Solidarity began in 1946 in Lausanne, with a song, the need to do something about the suffering after the Second World War and a whole lot of personal commitment.

Radio presenter Roger Nordmann and entertainer Jack Rollan began what has become a 70-year success story. On 26 September 1946 they made their first appeal on Radio Sottens (now RTS) in aid of children suffering from the effects of the war.

Soon after, they created their own radio programme, the ‘Chaîne de Bonheur’, or ‘chain of happiness’ – now known in English as Swiss Solidarity. Because whoever was best able to fulfil a wish could propose the next good deed.

At the beginning, Swiss Solidarity primarily collected material donations, and was totally overrun with packages and aid items.

Above all, our founders were radio presenters with generous hearts. Today we are the largest private humanitarian aid donor in Switzerland. For over 30 years we have been an autonomous foundation and the humanitarian arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SRG SSR.

Milestones

  • 1946 – On 26 September the first ‘Chaîne du Bonheur’ programme is broadcast on Radio Sottens.
  • 1947 – Swiss German Radio Beromünster adopts the programme.
  • 1948 – Ticino Radio Monte Ceneri adopts the programme.
  • 1948 – Now international, Swiss Solidarity launches its first appeal.
  • 1954 – The weekly programme is taken off air. Swiss Solidarity continues to fundraise when there is a major disaster.
  • 1983 – Under the then SRG general director Leo Schürmann, Swiss Solidarity becomes an independent organization.
  • 1991 – RTR (Romansh TV and Radio) takes part in a fundraising day for the first time, from a fundraising centre in Chur.
  • 1999 – We receive the International Human Rights Award in recognition of our work in the humanitarian field, in particular in Kosovo.
  • 2000 – Second biggest fundraising event in our history: 74 million francs for victims of severe weather in Switzerland (Valais and Ticino).
  • 2004 – We raise CHF 227 million for the victims of the tsunami on 26 December. This is the largest amount we have ever raised.
  • 2005 – Rose breeder Richard Huber dedicates a rose to Swiss Solidarity. The proceeds from the sale of this rose go to our children’s relief programme.
  • 2013 – We give ourselves a makeover. In order to express what we stand for, we give ourselves the English name ‘Swiss Solidarity’.

L'animateur radio Roger Nordmann, droite, et l'animateur Jack Rollan, gauche, ont créé la Chaîne du Bonheur en 1946.

Swiss Solidarity’s first ever radio programme in 1946

From radio programme to major donor

Today we collect money rather than material donations. With the money raised we finance aid projects run by our 25 partner relief organizations.

Many of the projects are involved in reconstruction after earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Many of the projects are involved in victims of war and conflict, and work to ensure children’s wellbeing.

We also help people living in Switzerland who find themselves in difficulties. Perhaps they are in financial difficulty or they have lost everything in a severe weather event.

Swiss Solidarity

The original idea of expressing solidarity with the victims of disasters – whether in Switzerland or abroad – is still what motivates us today.

Along with our partner the SRG, over the last 70 years we have launched about 190 appeals on radio and TV for the victims of natural disasters and conflicts. Each time, especially on national fundraising days, the appeals spark an amazing wave of solidarity throughout Switzerland.

Swiss solidarity, for which we stand, is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Swiss public and our strong partnerships with the SRG, Swisscom, private radio stations, the media and, of course, our operational partners, the relief organizations.

Simonetta Sommaruga recueille des dons par téléphone au cours d'une journée nationale de solidarité.

Eine Frau in Sri Lanka vor ihrem vom Tsunami zerstörten Haus.

Tsunami in Southeast Asia (2004)

227 million de francs received
Das vom Unwetter zerstörte Dorf Gondo

Natural disaster in the Valais and Ticino (2000)

74 million de francs received
Eine Frau läuft durch ein vom Erdbeben zerstörtes Quartier von Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Earthquake in Haiti (2010)

66,7 million de francs received
Eine syrische Flüchtlingsfamilie mit ihren zwei kleinen Söhnen

Syria / Refugees (2012 – now)

51,5 million de francs received
Ein Flüchtlingsjunge an der Grenze zu Mazedonien, wo seine Familie Unterschlupf gefunden hat.

Kosovo (1999)

49,9 million de francs received
Ein Feuerwehrmann und eine Frau ziehen ein Mädchen in einem Schlauchboot durch die überschwemmten Strassen von Bern.

Natural disaster in Switzerland (2005)

49,5 million de francs received
Ein Mann, dessen Haus vom Taifun Haiyan zerstört wurde, hält seine beiden Söhne im Arm.

Typhoon Haiyan (2013)

42,4 million de francs received
Eine pakistanische Familie durchquert die überfluteten Strassen auf einem Wagen, der von einem Esel gezogen wird.

Floods Pakistan (2010)

42,2 million de francs received
Ein Nepalese vor seinem vom Erdbeben zerstörten Haus.

Earthquake in Nepal (2015)

32,2 million de francs received