Source description last updated: 19 May 2020

In brief: The Bertelsmann Stiftung is a German non-profit think tank and has its seat in Gütersloh.

Coverage on

Country reports for countries of priorities A-C.

Quarterly coverage on


“Our goal is to contribute to social reform. That is only possible if we enter into an ongoing dialogue with all societal stakeholders and ensure the work we do is always valued by the public. […] The Bertelsmann Stiftung was founded in 1977 based on the conviction of our founder, Reinhard Mohn, that Germany was not doing enough to consider the growing competition between the globe's various social and economic systems. We therefore concentrate on developing solutions capable of addressing challenges in range of societal sectors and, at the same time, ensuring the continuity of Germany's political, economic and social structures. In doing so, we consider what has proven successful in other countries and we strive to balance research findings with experience in the field. The Bertelsmann Stiftung's activities are exclusively and directly philanthropic in nature. Its objective is to promote research and understanding in the areas of religion, public health, youth and senior affairs, culture and the arts, public education and career training, social welfare, international cultural exchange, democracy and government, and civic engagement. [...] We believe part of our responsibility is to use our resources in an effective and non-self-serving manner, i.e. one that promotes the common good. We are therefore guided in our efforts by the ‘Principles of Good Practice for Foundations’ laid out by the Association of German Foundations.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung: The Beliefs Behind Our Work, undated)

The Bertelsmann Stiftung‘s programs are “designed to strengthen society and help individuals reach their full potential by developing the resources needed to achieve those goals. Our work focuses on people, since individuals must be in a position to participate – politically, economically and culturally – as the world grows more complex. The Bertelsmann Stiftung‘s programs provide access to the necessary knowledge and expertise while developing solutions that can help ensure this is the case.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung: Mission Statement - Our Core Principles, undated)

“The BTI [Transformation Index of the Bertelsmann Stiftung] is the result of the collaboration of nearly 300 country and regional experts from leading universities and think tanks worldwide. The Transformation Index analyzes and compares transformation processes towards democracy and a market economy worldwide and identifies successful strategies for peaceful change.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index: The Transformation Index, undated)

“The Sustainable Governance Indicators [SGI] are administered by the Bertelsmann Stiftung.” (SGI: FAQ, undated)

“We believe good governance and sustainable development go hand-in-hand. We also believe in mutual learning. As a cross-national comparative survey designed to identify and foster successes in effective policymaking, the SGI explores how governments target sustainable development. We advocate for more sustainable governance, which is built on three pillars:

- Policy Performance

- Democracy

- Governance” (SGI: About the SGI; Mission Statement, undated)


“The Bertelsmann Stiftung finances its project work primarily through income from its indirect holdings in Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, which generated funds of €120.8 million in fiscal year 2018. An additional €5.0 million were also available to the Bertelsmann Stiftung from its cooperative partnerships, from the management of its financial reserves and from other income. In the 2018 fiscal year, the foundation therefore had about €125.8 million at its disposal for its nonprofit project work.“ (Bertelsmann Stiftung, Annual Report 2018, 2019, p. 8)

Scope of Reporting:

Geographic focus:  Regional, national and international orientation.

Thematic focus: Education, democracy, Europe, health, values, economy, megatrends.


“Our partners are decision makers in the political, economic and social spheres, as well as public institutions, research organizations and other foundations. In particular, we focus on exchanging ideas and experience across cultural and national borders.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung: Principles - The Beliefs Behind Our Work, undated)


“We are currently carrying out about 70 projects. Each project‘s duration is limited based on topic in order to free up resources for new challenges. Once a project has been successfully completed, i.e. a proposed model or solution has been developed, we then strive to implement the model or solution. […] When executing our projects we rely on recognized experts in a range of disciplines […] All members of the project team remain in close contact with the stakeholders and target groups present in their area of work. They are therefore up to date on the latest developments and solutions being used to address pressing social issues. They also make their specialized knowledge available to the media and the public.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung: Principles - The Beliefs Behind Our Work, undated)


“With their comprehensive regional expertise and outstanding academic standing, the regional coordinators make a significant contribution to the measurement and assessment process and the analysis of the BTI results. In consultation with the BTI team, they select their region’s country experts, guide, comment and coordinate the production of the country reports, calibrate the indicator scores for their respective region and play a major role in conducting the interregional calibration of the BTI results. They also author regional reports, which are an integral part of every BTI edition. […] BTI Board members played a crucial role in helping us establish the BTI’s conceptual framework, and continue to ensure sound results for each edition through their expertise and counsel. […] The quality of the Transformation Index hinges on the quality of the country reports. They are the backbone of all our studies and evaluations. We are therefore proud to work with more than 250 experts from leading academic institutions and civil society organizations worldwide. The knowledge within this competent network of outstanding country experts provides the qualitative and quantitative basis for the BTI’s international comparative analysis.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index: Who We Are, undated)


“The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) analyzes and evaluates whether and how developing countries and countries in transition are steering social change toward democracy and a market economy. Guided by a standardized codebook, country experts assess the extent to which a total of 17 criteria have been met for each of the 137 countries. These experts ground the scores they provide in assessments that comprise the country reports, all of which are available online. A second country expert then reviews these assessments and scores. In a final step, consistency is ensured by subjecting each of the 49 individual scores given per country to regional and interregional calibration processes. Standardizing the analytical process in this way makes targeted comparisons of reform policies possible. The BTI aggregates the results of this comprehensive study of transformation processes and political management into two indices: The Status Index and the Governance Index. The Status Index, with its two analytic dimensions of political and economic transformation, identifies where each of the 137 countries stand on its path toward democracy under the rule of law and a social market economy. The Governance Index assesses the quality of political leadership with which transformation processes are steered.“ (Website of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index: Methodology, undated)


“[...] the SGI relies on a combination of qualitative assessments by country experts and quantitative data drawn from official sources.” (SGI: About the SGI; Methodology, undated)

Languages of publication:

German, English, Spanish, French

Further reading / links

Bertelsmann Stiftung: Satzung der Bertelsmann Stiftung, 5 April 2019

Bertelsmann Stiftung: Annual Report 2018, 2019

Bertelsmann Stiftung: Mission Statement, Values – Mission – Goals – Work, August 2015

SGI website, undated

All links accessed 19 May 2020.