The Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme (Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for Human Progress – FPH) was founded in 1982.
The Foundation is governed by Swiss law, and falls under the authority of the AsSo (Autorité de surveillance LPP et des fondations de Suisse occidentale – LPP and Foundations Supervisory Authority of Western Switzerland); its head office is located in Lausanne.
The Foundation’s financial resources are drawn from the income of the estate of the late Charles Léopold Mayer (1881-1971). A French citizen of Irish descent, Charles Léopold Mayer was at once a chemical engineer, a financier, and a humanist. He was the author of several books, in particular on the subject of the engines of progress. A believer in progressive values and a great admirer of Alfred Nobel, he chose to devote his fortune to supporting activities and works of a scientific and humanist nature.
Estate and Budget
The Foundation’s estate was valued at 413 M CHF at the end of 2020. It is invested in property assets and financial investments that provide it with a stable annual revenue of around ten million Swiss francs. The Foundation operates over three-year budget periods. The last budget was voted in January 2021 for the period 2021-2023. It came to around 27 million euros.
Through its donations, the Foundation supports civil society movements and organisations in their activities advocating for a social and ecological transition. In doing so, the aim of the FPH is to ensure that this transition be carried out peacefully, and lead to our societies developing more participatory, fair and sustainable ways of functioning.
Why a transition?
Economic, social and environmental crises are becoming increasingly common all over the world. These are not collateral damage that simply requires compensation, but rather a structural problem inherent to our model of development. Profound change is inevitable. It is in fact already happening at the local level: best practices exist and have proven their worth, and others are being developed. But ensuring they become more common and widespread is difficult due to institutional, economic, social and cultural barriers. Breaking down these barriers requires time and perseverance.
Independence and the Long-Term View
In order to give its partners the best possible chance of fulfilling their aims, the FPH uses the advantages it derives from its status as a foundation – its independence, and its ability to act over the long term: – it supports organisations and activities that would have little chance of securing funding within the framework of traditional calls for tender; – it supports its partners by providing them with long-term core funding.
- 1982: the Foundation is set up in its definitive form.
- 1982-1989: during this period, the Foundation focussed on supporting projects that combined analysis with taking action. Many hundreds of projects were funded across different continents. They were connected to issues such as development policies, health, education, accommodation, agriculture, entrepreneurship, micro-credits, the environment, thinking about the future of the planet.
- 1990-2002: the Foundation stopped supporting one-off projects in order to privilege building international networks focussed on specific issues and developing collective strategies for change. The Foundation also committed itself more strongly to methods for sharing, circulating and capitalising on experience.
- 2003-2011: this period was defined by pro-active engagement. The Foundation supported the setting up and development of socio-professional partnerships and thematic institutes.
- 2012 to today: the Foundation has left behind a certain form of activism. It now devotes itself to supporting agents for change over the long term: reinforcing core funding for civil society organisations, and involvement in networks of foundations in order to better coordinate support.