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For the Love of Humankind

Jun 18, 2018
Sarah Sexton and Jenny L. Williams

Since our earliest years, Salzburg Global Seminar has longbenefited from the generosity of our Fellows, board members and wider circle of friends in funding myriad initiatives from scholarships to renovations. This year, we are launching an ambitious fundraising campaign to increase our impact and to sustain our service for future generations. SCHOLARSHIP SUPPORT. Our scholarship program ensures that rising stars from under-represented regions and groups are able to participate in our programs, regardless of financial means.

Philanthropy — in both its modern meaning and ancient roots, stemming from the ancient Greek for “love of mankind” — has been at the heart of Salzburg Global Seminar since its founding in 1947.

Over seven decades, Salzburg Global has invested in connecting and empowering individuals with a common desire to shape a better world. In turn, many who share our vision have offered their time and resources, propelling this organization forward to become a catalytic force for global change.

From our earliest beginnings to our latest innovations, “love of mankind” has summoned Salzburg Global Fellows, directors and friends to support a mission and place known for changing
lives worldwide.

Emboldened by this robust tradition of philanthropy, we are launching our largest-ever fundraising campaign. Inspiring Leadership: The Campaign for Salzburg Global Seminar will seek to
raise $18 million over the next three years to expand our scholarship program, invest in developing innovative solutions to complex problems and secure this organization and our historic home of Schloss Leopoldskron for generations to come.

As Salzburg Global President Stephen L. Salyer explains: “Campaigns are about vision. They support critical, compelling and transformational priorities.”

The First Philanthropists

In the fall of 1946, Austrian-born Clemens Heller, a graduate student at Harvard University, had the audacious vision of reviving cross-border dialogue in war-torn Europe and laying the foundation for a peaceful future.

According to Salzburg legend, Heller serendipitously re-encountered Helene Thimig, a family friend and widow of renowned theater impresario Max Reinhardt, on the New York subway where he outlined his plan. Enchanted, Thimig offered her late husband’s Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg for a summer school in 1947.

Heller and his two Harvard co-conspirators, Richard Campbell and Scott Elledge, received further support from the Harvard Student Council, which contributed $6000. Proceeds from a lecture by German composer Bruno Walter and a concert by American folk singer Pete Seeger also helped pay the first-year bills. A remarkable roster of Harvard professors, including F.O. Matthiessen, Wassily Leontief, and Margaret Mead, agreed to pay their own travel fare and serve on the faculty without stipend — a generosity that has continued in the 70 years since.

Enterprising Fellows helped secure the nascent institution but, without an endowment or reliable income stream, the institution bordered in its early years on insolvency. In 1950, a young Marcel Marceau held a series of performances in Salzburg to raise money to keep the Seminar alive. Meanwhile, back at Harvard, graduate students held a dance — the “Leopoldskron Leap” — and contributed its proceeds.

A Tradition of Philanthropy

As our program has become year-round and global in scope, institutional grants and partnerships have reinforced our financial stability. But individual philanthropy — in its many forms — has been and remains a cornerstone of Salzburg Global’s success.

The first scholarship endowments were established in the 1970s thanks to private individuals; today 10 such endowments support the participation of dozens of Fellows annually.

The purchase of the Meierhof building in 1973 was made possible by a gift from the widow of former Seminar vice president Amory Parker, for whom our conference room — Parker Hall — is named. Funds to create staff offices and participant bedrooms came directly from European Fellows.

Forty years later, Fellows, board members and friends rallied to support another Meierhof renovation, making $2 million in low-interest loans that enabled the launch of Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron in 2014.

Exponential Growth

With a Salzburg Global Fellowship spanning 170 countries, a stellar international staff, and an incomparable palace to inspire breakthrough thinking, Salzburg Global Seminar is posed for exponential growth in reach and impact. Salyer believes “the Campaign, Inspiring Leadership — gift by gift, investment by investment — will empower people, policies, and placemaking that can transform the world.”

Michael Hoffman, Chairman of the Campaign Steering Committee, adds: “As our programs expand and deepen, learning from the world’s top thinkers and innovators will influence change on the ground. Our emphasis on community-level collaboration and next-generation leadership ensures meaningful growth in local relevance and measurable impact.”