The ETH Zurich Foundation supports education and research at ETH Zurich through commitments from individuals, companies and foundations. The ETH Zurich Foundation assists donors in identifying where to direct their support, provides an active link between donors and the projects they support, and makes the impact of donor commitments known externally.
Donations that fall under the umbrella of the ETH Zurich Foundation result in increased funding for gifted researchers and specific funding programmes for the most talented students at ETH Zurich. They also boost strategic developments and address global challenges. Contributions from donors are crucial to the continued development of ETH Zurich as one of the world’s leading technical universities.
Responsibility towards society, its donors and ETH Zurich are top priorities for the ETH Zurich Foundation, alongside credibility and integrity in its actions and communication. It is for this reason that the Board of Trustees of the ETH Zurich Foundation have established the values and rules in this Code of Conduct, which entered into force on 26 October 2020. These values and rules ensure compliance with social, legal and ethical principles, and secure the sustainable use of the funds entrusted to the ETH Zurich Foundation.
I. Independent supporter of ETH Zurich
The ETH Zurich Foundation supports education and research at ETH Zurich as an independent, non-profit foundation. It grants funding to ETH Zurich that was committed in the form of charitable donations by individuals, companies and foundations.
II. Freedom of research and teaching
The freedom of teaching, research and publications by individuals and projects supported at ETH Zurich is always guaranteed. Donations received do not confer any right to the ownership, publication or exploitation of research findings.
III. Autonomy and independence
The autonomy and independence of ETH Zurich is ensured at all times. With the exception of the specific purpose set out in a donation agreement, donors have no influence on the work undertaken. In particular, they are not involved in the selection process (such as choosing between potential recipients of excellence scholarships) or in staffing and procurement decisions (e.g. decisions to appoint professors) at ETH Zurich.
IV. Transparency and discretion
The content of donation agreements may be disclosed.
The purpose and content of donations will be published on the website of the ETH Zurich Foundation. Annual reports also provide information on the financial situation of the ETH Zurich Foundation, donations received and the allocation of funds each year. Donors who wish to remain anonymous will not be named publicly. Data and information received will not be disclosed to third parties without the consent of the data subject.
All of the ETH Zurich Foundation’s activities (from foundation activities and investments to the conclusion of agreements with third parties) must comply with economic and environmental sustainability principles.
In addition to the following principles, please consult the ETH Zurich Code of Conduct for handling donations.
Donations must be compatible with the aims of the ETH Zurich Foundation, and the strategic projects and visions of ETH Zurich must be protected.
The ETH Zurich Foundation is free to decide whether to accept donations, bequests and legacies.
The Steering Committee of the ETH Zurich Foundation decides whether to accept donations of CHF 10,000 or more.
Donation pledges of CHF 10,000 or more are generally laid down in the form of a written agreement with details of the use of the funds.
Donations are managed and administered along with all other assets of the ETH Zurich Foundation in accordance with its investment guidelines in effect at the time. The operating expenses of the ETH Zurich Foundation are financed proportionately from the investment income of the total assets under administration.
If donations are given for a specific purpose, at least the member of the Executive Board of ETH Zurich under whose responsibility the donation falls must be involved promptly in the contract negotiations. Consent to accept the donation is generally given by the President of ETH Zurich and the Executive Board member under whose area of responsibility the donation falls. Funding wishes are always respected as far as possible.
III. Donations for professorships
Donations can play a crucial role in creating the new professorships included in ETH planning. ETH Zurich has sole responsibility for defining their subject, drawing up the specific professor profile and deciding how to advertise the position, as well as for the selection and appointment process. The proposal of a candidate to the ETH Board for appointment is at the sole discretion of the President of ETH Zurich.
The ETH Zurich Foundation places great emphasis on respecting all applicable compliance regulations in any given situation. Please also consult the ETH Zurich Compliance Guide.
I. Avoiding conflicts of interest
The ETH Zurich Foundation ensures that conflicts of interest are avoided within its organisation and that appropriate measures are in place to prevent conflicts between the personal interests of individuals and the interests of the ETH Zurich Foundation.
II. Origin of funds
The ETH Zurich Foundation must know the origin of donations and that the donor is trustworthy.
Donations must comply with all applicable tax provisions and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
D. Communication and Reporting
The Foundation’s bodies (Board of Trustees, Administrative Office, auditors) act as trustees for the donor’s stated intentions.
The ETH Zurich Foundation ensures that funds are used in accordance with the intended purpose and provides donors with regular updates on the progress and findings of the projects they support.
E. Non-Profit-Making Requirements
I. Voluntary activity
The Board of Trustees of the ETH Zurich Foundation works on a voluntary basis and does not accept monetary compensation for its activities from donors or third parties.
II. Avoiding tax implications
Donations are not linked to any consideration with adverse tax consequences for the ETH Zurich Foundation or ETH Zurich. Any taxable consideration must be approved by the Executive Board of ETH Zurich.
F. Entry into Force
This Code of Conduct replaces the previous Code of Conduct dated 29 October 2013 and the previous Directive on the acceptance of donations dated 7 October 2016.
This Code of Conduct enters into force on 26 October 2020 upon approval by the Board of Trustees of the ETH Zurich Foundation (amended June 12, 2022).