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Hello Dieter,

thanks a lot for your interest in and feedback on the topic! wrote:

1. Why it isn't possible for TDF to fulfill the activities, the TDF subsidiary should fulfill? In German law there's the possibility for a foundation to have a "Wirtschaftlichen Geschäftsbetrieb" or - as a better solution - a "Zweckbetreib".

indeed, a nonprofit in Germany can have several parts. One is the nonprofit part, the tax-exempt "Idealbetrieb". This is where we get donations and fulfill our nonprofit mission, it is by far the largest part of TDF in terms of income and spendings.

Then there is something best described as a tax-reduced, limited business part directly related to fulfilling the mission, with some constraints, which is called "Zweckbetrieb". TDF currently doesn't have any activities there. Other entities with an educational mission e.g. collect (educational) conference attendance fees via this part. Another sample, if I remember correctly, is fees for retirement homes run by a nonprofit, although I am not 100% sure of that.

The third part is a regular and taxable business entity, the "Wirtschaftsbetrieb". TDF already has such a part, this is e.g. where we handle conference sponsorships, t-shirt sales commissions or advisory board fees.

For details on the financial breakdown between the various parts, you can find our ledgers at

The tax regulations of all these entities are different, as money is taxed differently. The key rules of the statutes are always applicable, as all these entities are inside TDF. TDF itself is bound by the donor's will expressed e.g. in the statutes and the next-decade manifesto these are based on.

There are further conditions on the various entities, e.g. cross-funding is not allowed.

The choice of entity and which route to take is something the board is currently discussing, but I hope the above sheds some light and gives an overview.


Florian Effenberger, Executive Director (Geschäftsführer)
Tel: +49 30 5557992-50 | Mail:
The Document Foundation, Kurfürstendamm 188, 10707 Berlin, DE
Gemeinnützige rechtsfähige Stiftung des bürgerlichen Rechts
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