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Many people are prompted by a sense of civic responsibility to take on tasks they believe the state does not or cannot perform or cannot perform satisfactorily. Establishing a foundation is one way for people to assume such responsibility in the service of a common cause.
By tradition the Federal President promotes the work of a large number of foundations in Germany by becoming their patron, meeting people working on their behalf or supporting specific foundation projects. He encourages representatives of such foundations to brief him personally on the work done by their organizations.
People prompted to set up foundations are people who want to get things moving. Such civic commitment is no substitute for action by the state and nor should it be. It does, however, in important ways complement such action, since both for financial reasons and by its very nature there are limits to what the state can do.
There exist in Germany both private and public foundations as well as foundations that have close links with the political parties.