Center for Non-Profit Management

and Social Impact

About us

Impulses for sustainable, effective social change
through innovative management and strategy concepts

Non-profit organizations face a variety of strategic challenges – not just since the COVID-19 pandemic. Through ongoing changes in central areas, topics such as “new forms of volunteering and engagement”, “professionalization” or “digitization” gain increasing relevance.

The WHU Center for Non-Profit Management and Social Impact sees itself as think tank and open platform that illuminates respective questions from a scientific point of view, aims at transferring WHU’s existing competences systematically to these topics, and thereby, bringing together different actors from the WHU network in a systematic and targeted fashion.

In addition to a stronger integration of non-profit issues into the various WHU study programs, our work pays special attention to the area of ​​executive education - i.e. the training and education of executives from the non-profit sector.

Our team

Dr. Peter Kreutter

Managing Director of the Center
+49 (0)261 6509 104

Christian Hagist

Academic Director of the Center
Holder of the Chair of Economic and Social Policy
+49 (0)261 6509 255

Professor Christian Schlereth

Academic Director of the Center
Holder of the Chair of Digital Marketing
+49 (0)261 6509 455

Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann

Managing Director Executive Education
+49 211 44709 170

Professor Jane Lê

Holder of the Chair of Strategic Management
+49 (0)261 6509 725

Lukas Löhlein

Professor at the Institute for Management and Controlling
+49 261 6509 490

Vicky Hansen

Manager Projects & Events WHU Foundation
+49 (0)261 6509 103

Sven Beisecker

Research Assistant at the Chair of Digital Marketing
+49 (0)261 6509 458

Margaret Koli

Research Assistant at the Chair of Strategic Management
+49 (0)261 6509 726

Béatrice Martin

Research Assistant at the Chair of Digital Marketing
+49 (0)261 6509 459

Jessica Rheindorf, M.Sc

Research Assistant at the Chair of Economic and Social Policy
+49 (0)261 6509 257


Read the latest news -
Here, we present the diverse activities of our center.

Participants at this year’s WHU Hauptstadt Dialog look at AI through a humanitarian lens

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The Education Work Group seeks to fight back against unfortunate developments in the education system

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WHU and Haniel Foundation initiative dedicated to the topic of responsible corporate governance

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A new study examines the effects of digitization on clinical outcomes and patient experience

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Professor Hagist, holder of the Chair of Economic and Social Policy, speaks about retirement after 70

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WHU one of three patrons of the Digital Social Award, which honors efforts made to improve the greater good through digital means

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WHU Hauptstadt-Dialog 2022 at 42 Berlin

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Partners and network

The WHU Center for Non-Profit Management and Social Impact works regularly with various actors from non-profit and scientific fields, including:

Since its foundation in 1998, the “Deutsche Stiftungsakademie” (German Foundation Academy) has established itself nationwide as a training academy in the field of foundation-related topics. It offers seminars, certification courses and online courses in the areas of foundation management, foundation law, foundation tax law, communication and public relations, personnel and management, accounting and controlling, fundraising alongside start-up advice.

The “Institut für Verbands-, Stiftungs- und Genossenschaftsmanagement” (VMI) (Institute for Association, Foundation, and Cooperative Management) is based at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. For over 40 years, it has been dealing scientifically and interdisciplinarily with the management of associations and further non-profit organizations as well as with the development of the third sector between market and state not only in German-speaking countries but also in the international comparison.

The Institute for Foundation Law and the Law of Non-Profit Organizations, initiated by the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, assumes responsibility for the further development of the law of non-profit organizations in Germany and Europe through its work. In addition, the Institute carries out interdisciplinary research work and sees itself as a policy advising institution beyond its academic tasks.

The ZiviZ (“Zivilgesellschaft in Zahlen”, Civil Society in Figures) gGmbH is a subsidiary of the “Stifterverband”. It provides data-based orientation and trend knowledge for practical work in the field of civil society. Moreover, it explores the question of what framework civil society organizations offer to encourage civic engagement and which conditions are beneficial to foster such engagement.

betterplace lab is a think-and-do-tank, which aims at changing and improving social action by means of research and use of digital technologies. betterplace lab is the sister company of, Germany's largest online donation platform.

Initiatives and projects

Our research, teaching, and business engagement find their practical expression in the initiation, cooperation, and implementation of various initiatives and projects. Below, we provide some recent examples.

Digitize Non-Profits Initiative

The Digitize Non-Profits Initiative is a loose, project-based association being active since 2016 to jointly promote digitization in the non-profit sector. The idea for the study “Digitization in Non-profit Organizations” (German Original: “Digitalisierung in Non-Profit-Organisationen”) emerged – among others – from a design thinking workshop. As one of the first studies on this topic in Germany, this research analyzed the status quo of digitization and examined the non-profit sector’s need for change. Its results formed the basis for the follow-up study “Learning. Understanding. Networking. Perspectives of the Digital Change in Established Social Organizations” (German Original: “Lernen. Verstehen. Vernetzen. Perspektiven des digitalen Wandels in etablierten sozialen Organisationen”). The study’s aim was to provide a more comprehensive insight into concrete practical examples and implementation experience of digitization projects. In particular, the study addressed the question of how established organizations can address and successfully cope with digital change.

You may find both studies in our download area.

Digital Social Summit

Since 2018, civil society meets annually at the Digital Social Summit (DSS) to discuss digital instruments, debates, and strategies. At the interface of “social” and “digital”, the participants deal with the topic of what digitalization means strategically and specifically for charitable work. WHU is a co-initiator of the DSS and represented through Dr. Peter Kreutter in the “Initiativkreis” (IK) (initiative group) of the DSS.

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DSA WHU Management Leadership Program for Non-profits

In cooperation with “Deutsche Stiftungsakademie” (German Foundation Academy), WHU Executive Education offers the DSA WHU Management Executive Program for Non-profits. The agenda of the theory-based and yet practice-oriented curriculum includes, among other elements, the effects on the foundation’s work, engagement structure changes in civil society and the digitization of non-profit organizations. Topics such as the management of employees in VUCA environments and the use of storytelling on a daily base in work and management environments complement the education portfolio.

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Publications and downloads

In a research article for VM Fachzeitschrift für Verbands- und Nonprofit-Management, Peter Kreutter (WHU Foundation), Patrizia Rezzoli (Beisheim Foundation Switzerland) and Jan Philipp Schewe (Baden-Württemberg Foundation) discuss the question of "Covid-19 as a turbo boost in the digitalization of NPO!?" (article in German). The publication aims to create a differentiated perspective on the topic by outlining the previous lines of development of digitization of NPOs, analyzing the reactions to the exogenous shock, and discussing the fields of action that are currently emerging.

The study “Learning. Understanding. Networking.” (German Original: “Lernen. Verstehen. Vernetzen.”) builds on the results of “Digitization in Non-profit Organizations” (German Original: “Digitalisierung in Non-Profit-Organisationen”), a study conducted in 2017. The aim was to provide a more comprehensive insight into concrete practical examples and implementation experience in digitization projects. The study addresses the question of how especially established organizations can address and successfully cope with digital change.

The editorial paper “Future-Oriented Foundation Management” (German Original: “Zukunftsorientiertes Stiftungsmanagement”) offers a comprehensive overview of the strategic management of organizations in the foundation sector and the experience associated with it. The articles address, among other topics, strategy, leadership, governance, digitization, innovation, legal and tax frameworks as well as models for cooperation. In addition to theoretical and conceptual considerations, the content is complemented by case studies and best practice reports for the development and implementation of future-oriented strategies for foundations.

The study “Digitization in Non-Profit Organizations” (Geman Original: “Digitalisierung in Non-Profit-Organisationen”) examines the awareness of the need for change and the ability to change in the non-profit sector with regard to digitization. It aims to show which types of support non-profits need to be able to better assess the opportunities of digitization and to use them positively for themselves. To this end, more than 160 employees of non-profit organizations were surveyed online and by telephone in the summer of 2017.


Have we sparked your interest?
Please contact us for more information.

Dr. Peter Kreutter

Managing Director of the Center

+49 (0)261 6509 104