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June 2nd, 2016
Cities • Finance

Stuttgart Marketplace

Businesses who want to make a social impact and not-for-profits who want to start community projects: these local would-be partners need to find one another to develop their common goals. The Stuttgart Marketplace provides a location and an arena for forging partnership where services, skills and facilities are traded – but not money. The participants go into their respective trading corners and two hours later they emerge with new social agreements and relationships.

The initiative

The Stuttgart Marketplace brings local not-for-profits and businesses together to facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge, skills, and products. As in a traditional marketplace, participants specify what they have to offer and what they are looking for, and seek appropriate trading partners.

During the Marketplace event, both sides are constrained by one rule: money must not be used as a means of exchange. The idea is not to make or receive donations but to initiate cooperation - by doing something together that is practical and meaningful for the community

The overriding objective of the marketplace is to create robust social partnerships. The specific objectives of the 2010 event in Stuttgart were the following:

  • To double the number of participants from the 20 companies and 20 not-for-profits which participated in 2007.
  • To ensure that each organisation makes about two agreements.
  • To achieve a more balanced representation of the voluntary sector.

The Stuttgart Marketplace was opened by the mayor of Stuttgart, Dr Wolfgang Schuster. After he had sounded the opening gong, participants were invited to present their offers in “trading corners”.

The social marketplace idea was developed in the Netherlands and the Bertelsmann Foundation has transferred the model to Germany over a period of five years. After the successful transfer of the method the Bertelsmann Foundation has asked the CSR-Network UPJ to offer a variety of services to disseminate and support the Marketplaces all over Germany.

The challenge

Not-for-profits often struggle to raise the funds they need to operate, and many private sector companies are keen to demonstrate their social responsibility. There has long been a need for them to have a forum to get together and collaborate on socially and environmentally beneficial projects.

The public impact

The first Stuttgart Marketplace in 2007 was very successful and saw about 40 agreements between businesses and not-for-profits. For example, the Stuttgart cabinet-maker, Türenmann, built a cloakroom wardrobe for the premises of an association for the blind, “while the members of the association for the blind gave a course for the trainees of the cabinet maker to show them how to appreciate how blind people manage to get their bearings and stay mobile - and also trained them in the use of specialised ICT". [1]

“Another agreement, between a Women's Refuge and an oven maker, resulted in the design and production of an imaginative and artistic collection box in the shape of an oven, which was so successful at attracting people to give donations that it is now being borrowed for use by many other charities". [2]

At the second Stuttgart Marketplace in April 2010, out of the 80 agreements, 70 were already under way or completed by the end of the year. Almost all participating organisations indicated that they were satisfied (or very satisfied) with the results of the event.

Stakeholder engagement

The Bertelsmann Foundation is the initiating German stakeholder, along with: CSR-network (the European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility);  UPJ (the German national network of socially engaged businesses and local not-for-profits); and the city of Stuttgart. It adapted the concept from a Dutch model developed by the accountants KPMG, the power producers RWE, and others.

Stuttgart City Council and the community engagement team headed by Reinhold Halder had heard about the Marketplace programme and decided to conduct an event in the city.  In 2007, a number of preparatory meetings were held between the council, GENO-Verband and the not-for-profit consultancy, mehrwert (in English ‘Added Value'). In 2010, the model was well established and it was organised by the city supported by the not-for-profits..

Political commitment

The main political momentum came from the Stuttgart City Council after Reinhold Halder, the council's head of community engagement, heard of the concept from the Bertelsmann Foundation. He thought it would be an ideal way to get local businesses involved in the local community, so he decided to run a social Marketplace in Stuttgart in 2007. Its success led him to repeat the process in 2010.

The website for Marketplace method, as applied throughout Germany, is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. This indicates a commitment to the Marketplace model from the federal government.

Public confidence

There have been over 100 social Marketplace events held across Germany over the past decade, suggesting that the model has been well received throughout the country.

Clarity of objectives

The objectives of the Marketplace programme are clear and remained consistent: enhancing social partnerships at a local level, by giving not-for-profits and businesses a forum to engage with each other. They are measurable up to a point: the number of participants in the Marketplace and the number of social agreements that are reached (40 in 2007, 80 in 2010).

Strength of evidence

The German Marketplace concept, as applied in Stuttgart, is based on a similar programme in the Netherlands. “The Social Marketplace idea has been developed in the Netherlands by Movisie, KPMG, Fortis Foundation, a number of community organisations and selected Corporate Citizenship experts". [3]

In order to foster new social partnerships, “the Bertelsmann Foundation has transferred the method to Germany over a period of five years". [4]


The Marketplace concept is a very straightforward one. It required the presence of a quorum of not-for-profit and private sector participants and a place for them to foregather for two hours.

It required, therefore, some financial and staff resources for the promotion and organisation of the event. “While the first Stuttgart Marketplace benefited from support by GENO-Verband, the second event was a partnership between Stuttgart City Council, KPMG, the not-for-profit organisation, mehrwert, and Deutsche Bank. The direct costs of the second Marketplace were about €8000 in total". [5]


Stuttgart Marketplace was overseen by the city administration along with the not-for-profits involved. The principal city manager was the leader of the council's community engagement team, Reinhold Halder.

At the national level, the programme is principally managed by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the CSR and UPJ networks, with an advisory board to promote the programme nationwide.


Measuring the impact of the programme is carried out on the basis of number of contracts agreed between the participants, and the number of participants and the category of participant (to measure the overall reach and diversity of the programme.

Another variable used to measure the effectiveness of the Marketplace is the type of contracts awarded during the event, for example, the exchange of services or skills or facilities: “more than 80% of the agreements between business and voluntary organisations focused on the exchange of services, 63% were about the exchange of skills and know-how, 47% about logistics and 38% about volunteering”. [6]


There was alignment between the creators and organisers of the events in the Netherlands and Germany, e.g. KPMG and the Bertelsmann Foundation, and between Bertelsmann and the main actors in the organisation of the Stuttgart Marketplace.

There was good alignment between the Stuttgart city council, in particular its community engagement team, the corporate social responsibility NGOs, and the not-for-profits who took part and helped organise the event, and the private sector participants.

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