Clear, compact and concise
Non-profit organizations which are assessed by Zewo for compliance with these standards and meet the requirements are awarded the Zewo quality seal. It rewards reputable organizations which use donations economically, effectively and for their designated purpose. They provide transparent information and earn the trust of donors.
Charitable activity is defined as an activity by a legal entity based in Switzerland which provides services in the interests of the community. Within the meaning of the Zewo standards, non-profit organizations are classified as charities if they work in one or more of the following areas:
Organizations which are not classified as charities within the meaning of the Zewo standards are organizations
If the organization has a political, religious or other ideological orientation, the charitable activity must nevertheless be its main focus.
Service providers specialising in non-profit organizations such as fundraising, event or PR agencies cannot be certified.
The following principles apply to all sectors:
As the supreme governing body of an association, the general meeting of the members or delegates determines the principles of the organization. In the case of foundations, the board of directors determines the principles of the organization in accordance with the foundation charter. This applies analogously to organizations with a different legal form.
The board of directors is normally the board of trustees for foundations and the committee for associations. As the strategic governing and supervisory body, it has a medium- and long-term governing and supervisory function. The board of directors bears overall responsibility for the organization, in particular for its business activity, administration and use of funds, risk management and internal control.
The Chairperson heads the board of directors and ensures that it works efficiently and effectively. The board of directors determines the structures and procedures required for performance of its duties and monitors these on a regular basis.
Under its supervision and responsibility, the board of directors may delegate tasks to the executive management and appoint standing or temporary committees.
The composition, assignment, competence, duration and responsibility of the committees must be defined and in the case of standing committees, recorded in a directive.
The board of directors takes responsibility for tasks that are not explicitly assigned to other bodies.
The board of directors comprises at least five members.
None of the members of the board of directors is closely related* or related by marriage or married to another member, or in a long-term partnership with another member.
If the board of directors comprises at least seven members, two of them may be personally related as defined in no. 2 above.
If the board of directors has more than nine members, it must ensure that adequate decision structures are in place.
Members possess the skills required for meeting their responsibilities. Efforts must be made to ensure that the members of the board of directors are suitably diverse.
A regular term of office is four years maximum. Re-election is possible. The board of directors organizes the renewal of its members in good time.
* Closely related: first degree relative (parents/children), second degree relative (siblings/grandparents/grandchildren) and third degree relative (nephews/nieces).
Members of the board of directors disclose vested interests which are relevant to the activity of the organization in the annual report or on the organization’s website.
If the interests of the organization clash with the interests of members of the board of directors or their associates, these interests are disclosed to the board of directors. In such cases, the member concerned abstains.
Members of the board of directors must abstain if they or an individual or legal entity associated with them is involved in a transaction.
Transactions by the organization with members of the board of directors or their associates must ultimately be concluded on the same terms as those with third parties.
Important transactions with associates* of the organization are disclosed in the notes to the annual financial statement.
* ‘Associates‘ are defined in Swiss GAAP FER 15. In addition, according to the notes on Swiss GAAP FER 21, organizations whose purpose is coordinated with the charitable NPO are also classified as NPO associates. Examples of associates of charitable NPOs are: current and former members of the board of directors (e.g. Committee of the Association, Board of Trustees) and management; organizations controlled by members of the board of directors; organizations over which the charitable non-profit organization exercises a significant influence (e.g. through representation in the board of directors); members, benefactors, founders of the organization who exercise a significant influence; supporters‘ association of the charitable NPO; organizations with which the NPO has a common market presence.
A member of the board of directors may not simultaneously be the executive director or a member of executive management.
A member of the board of directors may not be related by birth or marriage or married to the executive director, or be in a long-term partnership with him/her.
The executive director may only have an advisory role on the board of directors.
Employees of the organization, with the exception of the representation of employees, may not be members of the board of directors.
The segregation of duties between the board of directors as a strategic governing and supervisory body and executive management must be stipulated in writing with a clear definition of tasks, competences and responsibilities.
Personal separation of powers may be waived if the organization does not employ any staff and if the operational tasks of the honorary members of the board of directors are performed in such a way that segregation of duties is ensured.
The board of directors takes care of appropriate internal controls and a suitable risk management system as regards
The organization applies the following controls in particular:
The following applies to ordinary tasks of members of the board of directors as the strategic governing and supervisory body:
Members of the board of directors may take on paid tasks in the form of a mandate on the following conditions:
The total remuneration in no. 2) and 3) includes all remuneration paid by the organization. It must be consistent with the size and charitable nature of the organization and the time involved.
The following applies to employees and the executive management: Remuneration must be consistent with requirements, qualifications, responsibility and work performance. Salaries for the members of the executive management must also be in line with the levels in effect in other similar charitable organizations.
The total of the remuneration paid to members of the board of directors and the total of the remuneration paid to members of the executive management must be disclosed in the notes to the annual financial statement in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER 21.
Remuneration paid to the Chairperson must also be shown separately.
Mandates to members of the board of directors must be reported in the notes to the annual financial statement as transactions with associates, in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER 21.
Individual payments to members of the board of directors and payments to the executive director must be disclosed separately to Zewo.
The percentage of the organization’s total expenses spent on projects and services is within the range for similar organizations and is at least 65%*. In other words, the maximum percentage spent on administration and funding is 35%.
The percentage of the organization’s total expenses spent on fundraising and advertising is within the range for similar organizations and is 25%* at most.
* These limits are based on the Zewo Study 2015: "Key figures and benchmarks for aid organizations". This data is regularly checked by Zewo through follow-up studies, and updated as necessary.
The organization continually monitors the effectiveness of its core activity. It defines goals accordingly. These goals are regularly audited. The associated responsibilities are clear.
The following questions are used to check the effectiveness of the organization’s actions:
The organization incorporates the topic of effectiveness in an appropriate form in its public reports.
The organization is not overindebted, the organization’s capital (unrestricted net assets) is positive.
The organization capital (unrestricted net assets) covers the total expenses of the organization for at least three and at most 18 months. If the organization capital (unrestricted net assets) falls outside this range, the organization defines reserve targets which it considers to be appropriate to the situation.
The organization capital (unrestricted net assets) plus fund capital (restricted funds) covers the organization’s total expenses for at least three and at most 24 months. If the organization capital (unrestricted net assets) plus fund capital (restricted funds) falls outside this range, the organization defines reserve targets which it considers to be appropriate to the situation.
The organization provides information on all its whole activity in its annual report. This includes an annual report with a section on services provided as well as an audited annual financial statement in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER 21.
The organization publishes its annual report (annual report and auditor‘s report with audited annual financial statement in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER 21). This is freely accessible on its website.
Deviations from no. 2 are possible in the following cases:
The organization prepares its annual financial statement in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER accounting standards and applies Swiss GAAP FER 21 – Accounting for charitable non-profit organizations.
Fundraising and general advertising expenses as well as administrative expenses are calculated and reported using the methods published by Zewo.
The organization has its annual financial statement audited in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER by independent, professionally qualified auditors:
The auditor produces a written report on the results of the audit. Depending on the type of audit, the report contains:
*According to Swiss GAAP FER 21, organizations are classified as small if they meet two of the following criteria: balance sheet total < CHF 2 million/turnover < CHF 1 million/FTE <10.
If financial investments and the value of any investment property exceed CHF 2 million, the organization puts investment regulations in place.
These regulations consider the risk tolerance and liquidity requirements of the organization, the income objectives of its financial investments and the purpose of the organization. The regulations also address social and ecological factors as well as good governance criteria.
If the organization is part of a national network with a nationwide or supra-regional organization (umbrella/parent organization) and legally autonomous, regional or themed sections with a similar name and similar aim (sub-organizations), the following applies::
If a legally autonomous benefactors‘ association or similar belongs to a charitable NPO, it may also obtain the quality seal as a sub-organization, using the simplified procedure.
*a sub-organization which meets towo of the following criteria: total balance sheet < CHF 2 million/turnover < CHF 10 million/turnover < CHF 20 million / < 50 FTE
If the organization is part of an international network, it remains responsible for the use of the funds donated to it. Responsibility may not be transferred to head office or to another member of the international network. In particular:
Fundraising organizations respect the fact that donations are voluntary. The decision to donate is not compromised by pressure, unrealistic exaggerations or understatements, distorted content, force, intimidation or by fuelling fears. In particular, this means:
Fundraising organizations respect the wishes of the donors. They clearly explain the purpose of their collections. Donations made for a designated purpose are recorded and shown separately. If an organization wishes to use the collected donations freely in the context of the organization’s purpose, this must be made clear in the fundraising appeal.
Fundraising organizations respect the rights of the individuals they support, especially children, and protect their dignity. Their fundraising does not use materials or methods which undermine this dignity. To protect children, they do not use sponsorship-based advertising, whereby an individual child is selected and the sponsor is asked to contact the child abroad (individual child sponsorship).
Fundraising organizations communicate honestly and clearly. Their fundraising campaigns use verifiable facts and provide correct and detailed information on the costs of fundraising and advertising, as well as administrative expenses.
Fundraising organizations respect the law. They do not accept cash which they have to assume to be the proceeds of criminal activity.
Fundraising organizations protect their independence. They do not accept money which compromises their freedom of decision or freedom of expression.
Organizations must not sell, lease or exchange collected data and addresses of donors, members, friends and interested parties. They may rent or buy new addresses from address brokers.
Organizations remain subject to data protection regulations at all times; in particular, organizations must respect the wishes of the recipients of their advertising efforts, if the latter prefer to receive fewer or no fundraising appeals.
When initial contact is made, the wishes of individuals who prefer not to be contacted must be respected.
If individuals no longer wish to be contacted or prefer to be contacted less frequently, fundraising organizations must react quickly and without raising obstacles.
In particular, organizations must ensure that fundraising by phone, SMS or email, door-to-door and in public areas is not intrusive and does not make the individual contacted or visited feel compelled to donate. The conversation or visit must be halted immediately if the contacted person makes it clear that they do not wish to continue the conversation.
Fundraising organizations have a clear, visible, easily accessible and up to date data protection statement on their website.
The following rules apply to organizations which collaborate with third parties on fundraising and communication:
The provisions of this standard apply to organizations which regularly undertake national or supra-regional* collections and campaigns to gain new donors, benefactors or members, provided they raise more than CHF 5 million in donations**.
Zewo coordinates the data on these collections each year in the Swiss fundraising calendar, which is divided into the following parts:
Each organization is entitled to a maximum of three fundraising periods per calendar year. Organizations which fundraise across several themed areas may be represented in several parts of the calendar. They are also entitled to a maximum of three dates in total.
Based on the previous year’s dates, Zewo prepares a draft calendar in which it enters a maximum of two dates per organization. Organizations which require a third fundraising date may then apply for a free slot. Each organization is entitled to a maximum of two dates per quarter in the fundraising calendar.
If only a few dates are still free in a quarter in one part of the calendar, organizations which wish to start fundraising in that quarter may apply for a simultaneous fundraising date. By way of exception, four simultaneous fundraising collections are possible.
If an organization does not agree with the allocation, it is possible to swap with another organization by mutual agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, Zewo’s office stipulates the fundraising period, ensuring that the organization can as far as possible keep their customary fundraising date. The organization has 30 days in which to appeal against the office’s decision to the Board of Trustees on the grounds of arbitrariness. Their appeal must be accompanied by a reasoned submission. The decision of Zewo’s Board of Trustees is final.
A fundraising period normally lasts 2 weeks, with the delivery of addressed and unaddressed fundraising appeals scheduled in the second week. Extensions for the sale of badges, stamps or other items are possible for up a maximum of 6 weeks. Free advertising space for fill ads or surplus posters is not recorded in the fundraising calendar.
Advertising without a collection is possible all year round in all media. A fundraising collection is defined as an appeal for direct financial support for the organization or a specific fundraising campaign.
The following collections are possible outside the fundraising calendar:
* To determine whether a collection is nationwide, the permanent resident population as at 31.12.2011 in Switzerland’s seven main regions as defined by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (BFS) can be used as a reference point:
1. Lake Geneva region: Cantons of Geneva, Waadt and Wallis 1.5 million
2. Mittelland area: Cantons of Bern, Solothurn, Freiburg, Neuenburg and Jura 1.77 million
3. Northwest Switzerland: Cantons of Basel, Aargau 1.08 million
4. Zurich: Canton of Zurich 1.39 million
5. Eastern Switzerland: Cantons of St.Gallen, Thurgau, Appenzell, Glarus, Schaffhausen, Graubünden 1.11 million
6. Central Switzerland: Cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Lucerne, Zug 0.76 million
7. Tessin: Canton of Tessin 0.34 million
These areas always include entire cantons and therefore only partially reflect the actual situation. However, they serve as a rough guide. Certain geographic variations are possible.
** According to Zewo donation statistics, the following income is included in donations: individual donations, member and benefactor subscriptions, sponsorships, events, legacies, donations by institutions (e.g. NPOs, companies, churches, cantons, districts) as well as other and non-allocatable donations.
Each individual case is examined as part of the test process.