Tocqueville Forum

The Tocqueville Forum was founded by the Maecenata Foundation in April 2016, after numerous attempts to found a research centre for civil society with other research facilities had failed.


Today, more than ever, civil society requires support to become a vibrant part of society. The forum aims to provide support, spread research findings and investigate and strengthen democratic theory pertaining to civil society.


Linking different approaches is particularly urgent. This should predominantly open a dialogue between civil society research and practice, and between civil society, politics, and business. The accessibility of information is of equal importance. 


The Tocqueville Forum may be seen at the crossroads of research, politics, and the field, and focusses on:


  • Practical support for civil society through supportive services and discussions,
  • Investigative crosscutting requisites,

  • Compiling and developing practical solutions for current problems,
  • Offering a forum for reflection on potential fields of work, functions, and dynamics of civil society,

  • Developing ideas on how to strengthen the outreach of civil society in political, public, and academic discussions.


Projects should aim to include European and global cooperation. Findings are made public.


The programme expressly aims at nurture teamwork and networking. Individual projects should, whenever possible, always be conducted in cooperation with other institutions. The programme is involved with citizen science and international cooperation. 


  • The Maecenata Library, which encompasses around 15.000 media units, the largest specialised library for topics of civil society, civic engagement, philanthropy, and foundations in German-speaking countries. The library is open to the general public,
  • The Database of German foundations, incorporating over 18.000 pieces of data,the basis for statistical overviews and other evaluations, including a comprehensive guide, and  for individual research,

  • Zivilgesellschaft Info (civil society info), an online platform aimed at illuminating the diversity of civil society and promoting it’s advocates. It offers current Information on civil society, civic engagement, philanthropy, and foundations,
  • Intensive seminars on civil society and foundations; an offer for staff and volunteers in foundations, societies, companies, and public authorities, as well as potential donors, students, journalists, and the general public. The seminars are aimed at promoting knowledge and experience as well as allowing participants find answers to particular questions and enter into discussion and exchange ideas.


The foundation funds these programmes privately, but also urgently requires financing from foundations as well as private and public sponsors.


>> Information Flyer (PDF)



The Tocqueville Forum was founded in 2016.

Its aims are two-fold:

1) to provide assistance to civil society research and practice

2) to create a network of civil society specialists who wish to exchange views and work together

To this end, the Tocqueville Forum has taken over the responsibility for

·         the Maecenata Library, the most extensive publicly accessible library for civil society and philanthropy in Germany

·         the public information service Zivilgesellschaft Info

·         the database of German foundations

·         non-academic seminars on civil society and philanthropy

In addition, the Toqueville Forum organizes workshops and meetings on subjects of interest for the civil society community and beyond.