Dealing with potential risks

For a non-profit foundation, EuroNatur Foundation’s capital stock is relatively slim. Therefore the organization is urgently dependent on donations and third-party grants so as to be able to discharge its mandate as an advocate of nature in Europe. We are aware of the fact that with this funding  comes great responsibility and day in, day-out we work towards using the funds as efficiently as possible. Due to differences in legal systems, language barriers and potentially greater corruption risks, the manner in which these grants and donations are passed on to partner organizations abroad is also a sensitive issue, one that is predicated on a very good network of contacts built up over many years. Moreover, a multi-level control system is essential for the correct assessment of and effective response to risks. Risk mitigation measures must also be adopted for capital investments.


Potential risks and the measures we take to avert them

Financial and economic crises

A spring storm is gathering over Lake Constance near Radolfzell.
© Gunter Willinger

The Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and their effects on national economies have shown that our lives’ economic situation can change quickly and dramatically. As a result of the energy price crisis, everyone's expenses have gone up sharply and, as a consequence, the inflation rate has risen significantly. That there is no interest without risk has now become an undisputed fact. In this light it is becoming increasingly difficult to find some middle ground between security and appropriate financial returns. Charting our course in this respect we abide by the following principles: EuroNatur Foundation invests its equity capital in low-risk funds, taking into account ethical and environmental criteria. Moreover, reserves are built up in order to be able to even out fluctuations in revenues. Over the past years we have established a special reserve for gains from transactions which can in turn be used to cover potential losses of future transactions (“Umschichtungsrücklage”) as a safeguard against potentially required depreciation of fixed assets. 

Lack of competent and trustworthy partner organizations

EuroNatur Foundation has very consciously not opted for a Europe-wide network of offices with full-time employees, thus eliminating considerable administrative expenditure. We are primarily concerned with cooperating with existing conservation organizations that are well connected in their local areas and are successful in their endeavours. In many countries of southern and eastern Europe, non-profit, independent conservation organizations are few and far between. The lack of competent and trustworthy partners limits our options. It is for this reason that EuroNatur invests in the systematic development and strengthening of civil society in southern and eastern Europe. EuroNatur’s project work is always predicated on cooperation with a local partner organization. If there is no such partner organization in a particular region, it is reason enough for EuroNatur not to engage.


Misappropriation of funds

We have self-imposed strict rules on budgetary control. All outward payments are checked for mathematical and factual correctness. Payment orders are always subject to the “Two-man rule”. Target-performance comparisons are carried out on a monthly basis, allowing for swift detection of potential irregularities. Our 2023 annual accounts were audited by the independent auditing and tax accounting firm WISTA AG and endorsed with an unqualified audit certificate. 


Inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in project work

We regularly scrutinize our internal processes, which allows us to continuously increase our efficiency. We also analyse the work of our partner organizations and work with them to find possible ways to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. Our partners’ statements of expenditure are checked by the project liaison person for factual accuracy and by the accounting department for financial accuracy. All statements of expenditure are submitted to the managing director for approval prior to funds being released. In order to increase the efficiency of our work we conduct staff development and training, in terms of both content and methodology, for ourselves and our partners on an ongoing basis.