Menschen für Menschen Foundation

In the following you will learn the basic facts concerning the organisational structure of the Menschen for Menschen Foundation, Karlheinz Böhm’s Ethiopia Aid.


Menschen für Menschen was brought into being by Karlheinz Böhm. The actor, who became famous in the 1950s through his role as Emperor Franz Joseph at the side of Romy Schneider in the film trilogy ‘Sissi’, delivered brilliant performances in the films of famous directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and on major German-language stages. Profoundly shocked by reports of the catastrophic famine in the Sahel Zone, in 1981 Karlheinz Böhm took advantage of his popularity to help. His legendary wager in the ZDF show "Wetten, dass...?" raised DM 1.2 million for people in Africa. In October 1981 Böhm flew to Ethiopia for the first time. On 13 November 1981 he set up the Menschen for Menschen Foundation, which he managed until 2011. Karlheinz Böhm died on May 29, aged 86.



The goal of the Menschen for Menschen Foundation is to enable the people it supports to continue improving their living conditions by their own means within a reasonable time scale, until one day – thus the vision – Ethiopia no longer requires help from the outside. As laid down in its statutes, the Foundation aims to promote development aid and the health care system in Ethiopia as well as understanding among peoples. Besides this it provides support to Ethiopians who urgently need the help of others for reasons of poverty and physical, mental or spiritual limitations. In order to achieve this, Menschen für Menschen provides emergency aid and funds for the improvement of water and food supplies, the preschool and school education system, general and vocational training, medical care, infrastructure, agriculture and livestock farming. In a multitude of projects the Foundation strives to protect natural resources. It also supports the abolition of harmful traditions, such as female genital mutilation and the fight against diseases and HIV/AIDS. In addition, Menschen für Menschen promotes awareness-raising initiatives, to bring the crisis situation of people in poor countries to the attention of the population of industrial nations and inform them about the work of the Foundation in Ethiopia. For this purpose the organisation organises media work, events and high-profile campaigns. The Foundation provides details of the application of funds in its annual report.


Our approach

Menschen für Menschen strives to trigger permanent and sustainable changes. For this purpose the aid organisation bases its activities on the principle of integrated rural development projects. Together with the local population, which contributes a high degree of commitment and work input, a wide range of measures required for sustainable development are initiated and closely interlinked: road and bridge building for connecting remote areas; securing food supplies by improved farming and cattle rearing methods; terracing and afforestation to prevent soil erosion; construction of wells, spring tapping and water reservoirs to supply clean drinking water; schools, training centres and school hostels to counteract the lack of education; hospitals and health centres to counteract the lack of medical care; training programs and education for the betterment of women. In addition, Menschen für Menschen also provides short term emergency aid, such as in the event of famine. To ensure that the funds arrive where they are needed, the organisation only implements emergency aid measures with its own employees. Furthermore, Menschen für Menschen must be able to use its own logistics and infrastructure for the distribution of relief materials it has purchased.



Menschen für Menschen is politically and religiously neutral and financially independent. Founded in Germany, the aid organisation has continuously expanded and internationalised its administrative base. Beyond the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, today it also has an autonomous organisation in Belgium. The head office of the German Foundation is in Munich, where 19 employees work in donation management, purchasing and logistics, accounting, information service and PR work. Menschen für Menschen has 761 employees in Ethiopia, of which only five did not originate from the country itself. In Germany the activities of Menschen für Menschen are additionally supported by about 600 voluntary employees. Only thus can we succeed in achieving maximum aid for the people in Ethiopia with minimum costs for administration and fundraising.


Executive bodies

The executive bodies of the Menschen für Menschen Foundation Germany are the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. Additionally, the Board of Trustees acts as an advisory body. The Foundation Executive Board conducts business activities, manages the Foundation’s assets and ensures that its tasks are performed as effectively as possible. The Board comprises three members. New members are elected by the Board (co-option). Their appointment requires the approval of the Supervisory Board.

Executive Board members: Dr. Martin Hintermayer, Peter Renner, Dr. Peter Schaumberger

The Supervisory Board ensures that the Foundation acts according to the will of the founder and advises the Board in all fundamental issues. It is composed of seven members. New board members are recruited by co-option. The members decide on the appointment of the Chairman and his deputy. The members of the Board of Trustees serve in an honorary capacity.

Members of the Supervisory Board: Christian Ude (Vorsitzender), Joachim Gröger (stellvertretender Vorsitzender), Heide Dorfmüller, Dr. Peter Hanser-Strecker, Dietmar Krieger, Dr. Hans Peter Lankes.

Board of Trustees was appointed by the Supervisory Board. It advises the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board on basic issues in the implementation of the Foundation’s purposes. It also establishes contacts and seeks donations and endowments. The Board of Trustees currently consists of nine members, each of them appointed for five years by the Supervisory Board. Re-appointment is permissible. The members of the Board of Trustees serve in an honorary capacity.

Members of the Board of Trustees: Ralf Bos, Prof. Dr. Geza Csomos, Dr. Roland Folz, Erich Jeske, Sara Nuru, Isolde Reiher, Vera Reuter,Helga Weygandt, Eckart Witzigmann.


Mode of operation

In order to achieve a maximum effect with a minimum of resources, Menschen für Menschen plans each project very carefully and closely cooperates from the outset with the population in Ethiopia. The projects are always motivated by specific local needs. Because the various existing problems are usually closely interrelated, it is rarely expedient to resolve individual grievances in isolation. Menschen für Menschen thus pursues a holistic approach and plans its projects for the long term. In their implementation the organisation places great emphasis on transparency and efficiency. Project scope, goals, measures and responsibilities are clearly laid out. The course of the project is systematically documented and monitored, the deployment of personnel and project funds are subjected to ongoing review and the success of projects is evaluated upon completion. In this way Menschen for Menschen ensures that each and every step is traceable and the donations achieve the greatest possible benefits for the population of a project region.

To guarantee that the techniques and procedures that have proven to be best practice are applied in all project areas, those responsible in the different regions regularly meet each other and outside bodies for an exchange of ideas and opinions. This takes place, for example, on the occasion of the six-month evaluations, for which all project managers come together at the head office of Menschen für Menschen in Addis Ababa or one of the nine project regions. Here they discuss practical successes and difficulties, problem solving and improvements. In this way, for example, the "Village Approach" that was tried and tested in the Midda project area became normal practice in many project areas. All planned activities are implemented simultaneously as a package for a village with several hundred inhabitants. In the scattered villages work thus proceeds from one village to the next. In this way capacities can be better organised and more efficiently used.

Menschen für Menschen actively involves the population in project work in all regions. Single projects such as the building of a health centre, construction of earth terraces or the granting of small loans are usually part of a long-term integrated development project. Cooperative partnerships are thus established over the years. On this basis the key project objective can be achieved: step-by-step the local population assumes responsibility for the development of their region – until Menschen für Menschen can withdraw completely and leave the project in their hands. However, even after this step Ethiopia Aid remains a contact partner for the people. The organisation’s employees visit the former project area regularly, offering advice and training. In exceptional cases technical investments are also possible. In this way Menschen für Menschen ensures the sustained success of the project.


Systematic control

Menschen für Menschen manages all projects through its own employees. This permits detailed and effective control mechanisms. All expenditures are checked and approved by several instances before they are implemented. In addition to the project managers, the project coordinator and country representative regularly travel to the Ethiopian project areas to monitor the use of funds. Furthermore, the controlling employees frequently visit the project areas, checking in particular the cash reserves, stocks and fuel consumption. Furthermore, they assess the progress on construction sites. The department managers in the project areas report to the project managers. The project managers submit quarterly reports to the country representatives and Ethiopian authorities. The latter check that the information in the reports corresponds to the status of work in the project areas.


Information and awareness raising

Every day the media delivers news from all corners of the globe. But the flood of pictures and reports does not necessarily result in greater awareness. Menschen für Menschen strives to shed light on the relevant backgrounds and contexts, thereby increasing the awareness of the German people for their responsibility towards poor countries such as Ethiopia, but also for strengthening their potential. The Foundation’s communication activities also serve this purpose. Whether Almaz and Karlheinz Böhm appear on TV, the Foundation draws attention to topics and events in press releases, young people are inspired to think by the youth website or donors and sponsors are informed about progress in the project areas by the NAGAYA MAGAZIN – the main aim is always to make complex interrelationships and trends comprehensible. This goal is also pursued by the website and trips for journalists regularly organised by Menschen for Menschen to the project areas. The latter are also a way of accounting for the activities in Ethiopia: media representatives can gain a first-hand impression and report to their readers.

The following are the guidelines of the Foundation Menschen für Menschen for raising awareness and fundraising.

Cooperation with other organisations

Since its founding Menschen für Menschen has reserved a high degree of independence, to enable it to work efficiently and effectively. The Foundation only cooperates with other organisations where clear added benefits are to be obtained from the cooperation for the population of the project regions. The cooperations are mainly concerned with the exchange of know-how and funding. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is, for example, a key partner of the Foundation. It participates in the funding of projects and also supports them in terms of content. Furthermore, Menschen für Menschen has commissioned the Solar Energy Foundation to equip schools and health centres built by Menschen für Menschen with photovoltaic systems.

Another important partner is the Carter Center. Menschen für Menschen works together with the foundation set up by former US President Jimmy Carter in combatting trachoma. For the past six years the Carter Center has successfully campaigned against eye inflammation and malaria in Ethiopia.
In PR work Menschen für Menschen enters into cooperations with media partners and enterprises. A primary concern of the Foundation is raising the awareness of young people. Here the organisation can rely on competent partners such as Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Verein Schulen ans Netz e.V. The latter supports the youth portal



Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Postkonto 90-700000-4

Stiftung Menschen für Menschen Karlheinz Böhms Äthiopienhilfe, 8002 Zürich

CH97 0900 0000 9070 0000 4
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
At a glance