"All approved projects are fully financed – from beginning to end"

How does the corona crisis affect the foundation's assets?

As a result of the significant falls in share prices on the stock markets, the value of the Foundation's assets has also decreased compared to the turn of the year. At present, it is roughly at the same level as at the end of 2017. But this fall in value has been cushioned by the outstanding gains achieved in 2019. This means that the real – i.e. inflation-protected – preservation of the Foundation's assets remains unaffected.

What do you say to grantees who are worried about not receiving funding that has already been approved? 

All approved projects are fully financed. This means that the allocated funding amounts have been generated in full and are now virtually "waiting to be paid out" over the course of the project. This means that our grantees do not have to worry that their projects cannot be completed or that funding commitments will not be kept as a result of the current crisis. It will continue to be possible to draw down funds on the due dates without any problems. The Volkswagen Foundation remains a reliable partner for our grantees and partner institutions!

What do you forecast? How will the corona crisis affect the Foundation's work in the long term? 

Describing the actual state is one thing; predicting what will happen in future is something completely different. Even though our current financial resources allow us to look to the future with confidence, it is of course not at all clear what the short, medium and long-term consequences of the shutdown will mean for the economy in our country, but also in the rest of the world. Like everyone else, we simply have to wait and see how things develop. Whether there will be financial constraints in the years to come cannot be at all reliably predicted at present. In our medium-term financial planning, we must of course take into account possible movements on the financial markets and include them in our considerations regarding the Foundation's future funding strategy.

Is the pandemic having an acute effect on investment behavior?

Although the corona pandemic has created a new, unpredictable situation, our current action remains quite the same as in "quiet" times: We are sticking to our long-term investment strategy, which is based on a broad diversification of investments, and we generally only approve fully financed projects. This means that even the corona crisis will not result in any fundamental changes for us or our grant recipients.

What is your advice to other foundations?

Besides showing patience and keeping calm, I advise other foundations to ensure three points: Draw up investment guidelines and adhere to them, be sure to have a broadly diversified portfolio, and funding approvals only on the basis of funds already generated.

In a video interview with "Stifter-TV", Dieter Lehmann explains in an interview with Jörg Birkelbach how foundations can react to unpredictable events such as the Corona crisis and what he believes are appropriate steps to deal with the situation.

Here you will find regularly updated information on how the Volkswagen Foundation is dealing with the corona crisis.