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Foundation, what it is, how it works and other basic issues related to this type of organization


I use the services of a foundation … I support the foundation … I am the founder of the foundation … We all hear similar things from time to time. No wonder, because there are about 20,000 non-governmental organizations of this type in Poland. But what are these foundations? For what purpose are they created? Can I also set up a foundation? If you find these questions intriguing, it’s time to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. I invite you to read!

What is a foundation?

First, the foundation is a non-governmental organization. That is, it works for a specific purpose, not profit. Second, it has capital for that purpose. Third, the purpose of the foundation should be socially and economically useful. What purpose meets these conditions? Development of the economy in the region, promotion of culture or assistance to people in need – these intentions meet the above condition. Moreover, the goal must be legal, non-profit, realistic and not supporting the members of the authorities.

Who can set up a foundation?

free natural person (every living person) or legal person (corporations and establishments).

How does the foundation work?

The basis for the operation of the foundation is its statute – a document drawn up by its founder (founder). The statute contains information such as the name, goals and structure of the foundation. It also defines the rules of the management board’s functioning. This point is extremely important as the operation of the foundation without a board of directors is illegal. The Management Board is therefore an indispensable body, consisting of 3 to 5 people, including the President of the Management Board. He performs an executive function in the foundation. Its members must therefore be competent in the management of the organization, able to represent it with dignity and deal with financial matters, while respecting the provisions of the statutes and acting in accordance with the law.

The founder appoints the first board. Moreover, he may become its member, provided that the statute allows it. The foundation cannot exist without assets either. The founder allocates it for the implementation of the objectives set out in the statute. He is also obliged to specify the amount of the property, e.g. in the foundation deed (declaration of will stating the establishment of the foundation). The assets may include, inter alia, cash, securities and real estate.

Although the foundation does not work for profit, it can run a business and allocate the income to pursue its statutory goals. The foundation employs people whose purpose is consistent with the purpose set out in the statute. They can be full-time employees, although the foundations are mostly based on voluntary work.

Who is the foundation of?

The necessary minimum is the executive body in the form of the management board referred to in the previous paragraph. He manages the activities of the foundation and also represents it externally. However, an additional internal control body is often appointed to increase the transparency of work, called a foundation board, supervisory board, audit committee or founders’ board. The scope of its activities is specified in the statute. He is obliged to report on the course of meetings. The appointment of a council is necessary in the case of a foundation that seeks or has a statute of a public benefit organization. Some organizations also decide to set up a program council as an advisory body.

Which state authorities supervise the foundation’s activities?

These are: the registry court, the competent staroste and the minister. The registration court decides about entering the foundation into the National Court Register (after this activity, the organization may be considered legal and capable of further legal actions). The court is obliged to notify the minister (appropriate for the scope of activities, goals and statute of the foundation) and the starost (appropriate for the seat of the foundation) about it. The notification consists in sending them the prepared statute.