»The challenges will grow«

We need to constantly attract donations, just as we did at the time of the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche, and today the donations go towards conserving the building and organising the life of the church. Christine Countess von Kageneck, commercial manager of the Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, explains in an interview why this is a major undertaking.  

How would you sum up the donation situation ten years after reconstruction?

We are immensely grateful that not only two thirds of the costs of reconstruction could be funded by private means but that this model could be carried over to the ten years after the Frauenkirche had been reopened.

A large part of this contribution came from the wills of people – most of them born and bred in Dresden – who feel a strong bond to this city and especially the Frauenkirche, which they have never lost. The donor certificates continue to be extremely important. We are very glad about the continuing interest in symbolic adoptions of parts of the building and its equipment.

We also owe a lot of thanks to our visitors who support our work, for instance by putting a contribution into our offering boxes every day. We also get support from our friends’ association with a sum of € 40 000 yearly for maintaining the church build-ing and various different amounts for the financing of the youth festival.

Can you name other sources of funding apart from private donations?

The regional church helps by taking over part of the cost of salaries in the non-material area and the state government by partly financing the series of lectures known as »Forum Frauenkirche«. But this funding which stems from tax money rep-resents a relatively low proportion of funds from external sources. Private sources were and are still what make it possible for us to implement the objectives anchored in our statutes. 

The Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation has undertaken to observe caution in its dealings with funds. What does this mean exactly?

The money from donations is used exclusively for the preservation of the building and the development of the church’s spiritual life. So far – unlike other local music performing organisations – our non-subsidized concerts have managed to break even. We always keep a very close eye on keeping administrative costs strictly under control.

What is the effect of the low interest phase on the Foundation?

Sums from asset management are urgently needed to counter the shortfall between the costs for the building and its non-material activities and income from donations. Interest rate policy has made this difficult for some years now and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Considerable effort is required in the light of the very conservative investment strategy we pursue to commit funds in a way that at least safeguards capital. The income from the lease of the dome ascent facility is a great help here, although it is subject to fluctuations caused by the weather. With entrance fees being stable this has, however, always been sufficient to ensure full funding of the Foundation including administrative costs.

What will be the challenges for the years ahead in your view?

From a commercial viewpoint the challenges will certainly grow. Since no change in interest rate policy is in sight, efficient cost management will continue to be paramount. But we see limits to this, one factor being the increasing need to reinvest in the building. Let us hope that we are successful in retaining the loyalty of our regular donors and in gaining new friends and supporters in the future.

The questions were asked by Mandy Dziubanek