Providing support where support is needed
Since its founding in 1810, the SSCG has toiled tirelessly to promote social cohesion in Switzerland. Back then, it began its work supporting the country’s poor along with a wide range of social projects. Apart from being the most significant social and socio-political organization in Switzerland during the development of the Swiss federal state and its foundation in 1848, it was also the driving force behind the establishment of numerous social institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries. The SSCG donated the Rütli to the Swiss Confederation in 1860 and has managed the cradle of Swiss democracy ever since, organizing the Swiss National Day celebrations there every year on 1 August. Since the UN’s International Year of Volunteers in 2001, the SSCG has researched and promoted volunteer work nationwide and regularly publishes the Swiss Volunteer Observatory.
Often overlooked is the central role taken by the SSCG during the 1830s in the formation of associations to focus on the education and training of young women. More than a thousand non-profit women’s associations had been established by the middle of the 19th century, and 1888 marked the foundation of the Swiss Women’s Association for the Common Good.
New programmes and a new national anthem
In the course of the past 20 years, the SSCG has initiated three new programmes:
- The “SeitenWechsel” project – literally “changing sides” – is a role exchange model that gives managers the chance to hone their social and leadership skills in intensive, one-week internships with social institutions;
- The “JobCaddie” project offers young people voluntary mentorship as they make the transition to the world of work;
- And the “Intergeneration” project brings institutions and programmes for the young and old together.
No less noteworthy was the launch in 2014 of a competition to compose a new text for the Swiss national anthem. It generated no fewer than 208 submissions, from which the winning entry by Zurich health specialist Werner Widmer was chosen in a public online vote. The words of the new anthem are based on the preamble to the Swiss Federal Constitution. Once the new text is sufficiently familiar, the authorities and electorate will be asked to approve it as the official new national anthem.
Alongside the Swiss Society for the Common Good, independent Societies for the Common Good have been established in most cantons. The SSCG works closely with cantonal, regional and local charitable societies, which can look on widely different histories and have thus assumed various forms. The Societies for the Common Good in Basel, Zug and Bern are important partners of the public sector in their regions.