Quality in caregiving.

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The transparent kindergarten

Social accountability in the non-profit sector

Transparente Zivilgesellschaft

Civil society organizations – and we include rainbowtrekkers – are subject to state control in Germany, but hardly any social control. In the case of a daycare provider such as the rainbowtrekkers, state control is mainly exercised by the tax offices with regard to non-profit issues and by the youth welfare offices, which check whether the state funding have been used in accordance with the guidelines.

However, this means that the efficiency of the taxpayers’ money used and the pedagogical output is not or only very marginally monitored. As taxpaying parents, however, we believe that you have a right to know that we have not only entered your money in the correct legal books, but have also used it in such a way that it has created added value for both society in general and the education system in particular.

In contrast to Germany, the Anglo-Saxon countries are much more firmly convinced that transparency is a value in itself when dealing with non-profit organizations (NPO) and/or non-governmental organizations (NGO). Today’s German legislation in the non-profit sector primarily considers the governmental, but hardly any societal information needs. This has above all historical reasons stemming from Christian social teaching. No one should – so it is standardized – brag that he or she is doing something good for others.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matth. 6, 1-4)

The churches, later the religious and other welfare organizations and finally the whole sector have already derived from this a requirement of secrecy (Strachwitz 2015). In doing so, they have failed to recognize that over the course of the centuries action oriented towards the common good has been redefined and reorganized in many other respects – not at least by the emergence of large institutional actors of the common good that go far beyond individual action. In the last two centuries personal charity has gradually become a norm of solidarity, the voluntary nature of the gift has turned into the contribution to justice to be demanded, and the service to one’s neighbor has turned into the commitment of citizens (ibid.).

According to the traditional social teaching, as few people as possible should know about charity, nor should you give an account of it to yourself (your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing). To put it in modern terms: Even a controlling, an internal ex-post verification of the success of charity, seems at first glance to be difficult to reconcile with the traditional concept of charity as an expression of the commandment of charity.

As a modern, socially entrepreneurially managed organization, we at rainbowtrekkers therefore see the postulate of secrecy and the waiver of control somewhat differently. Our reasons for demanding more transparency do not primarily have anything to do with a general suspicion of corruption or misallocation. Rather, together with other innovative agencies in the social sector, we see a number of democratic-theoretical arguments in addition to ethical principles of a good civil society:

  • The demonstration of financial sources and the activities of an organization is a compensation for the basic lack of representativeness of the sector. A non-profit organization is not democratically legitimized per se, yet it sometimes has a significant impact in the public domain. (An internal democracy of any kind is no substitute for this).
  • Due to the waiving of taxes in relation to donations, but also because of frequently high subsidies from public coffers, almost every euro spent by an association or foundation holds a share of funds that belong to all citizens. They therefore have a right to know what happens to them.
  • The public disclosure serves the public discourse and the controversies and fact-based examination of the work of civil society. If, for example, an organization advocates a certain form of sustainable energy, the citizen should already know whether the funds for this are provided by energy supply companies, manufacturers of certain plants, suppliers of certain types of energy (wind, nuclear, fossil energy, etc.), interested local authorities or a large number of concerned citizens. In all cases, it is a question of influencing public opinion and political decisions with incalculable economic consequences. Further examples could be added. Moreover, transparency is also recognized as a value in itself, as an indispensable clearing ritual in an open society.

In light of the fact that the number of associations and foundations in Germany – up to 1 million in total – is approximately the same as that of commercial enterprises, and that these organizations, with over two million employees and a much larger number of part-time and voluntary workers, generate around 5 % of the national product, the fact that they have been largely unaccountable to civil society to date is astonishing.

The example of the Anglo-Saxon countries (e.g. the British Charity Commission) illustrates that nowadays the norm of secrecy is not, or no longer necessarily, to be regarded as inherent in a Christian culture of public welfare actors. Donations and public grants, and even related business, subsidies from public funds, income from unrelated business and from the institution’s own assets are ipso facto no longer charity, but earmarked funds whose managers can and must be held accountable for their use. Organizations legitimize themselves not as benefactors but as trustees of the common good

With the rainbowtrekkers we feel obliged to this Anglo-Saxon tradition. Within the framework of our transparency guidelines, we have therefore voluntarily committed ourselves to disclose all relevant information below. We are guided by the standards of the Berlin Transparency Database, a model project of the Berlin Senate. As residents, taxpayers and parents, we would welcome the introduction of similar standards in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Declaration: The scientific explanations of our abovementioned essay are essentially based on the publication by Rupert Graf Strachwitz (2015): Transparent Civil Society? Accountability and Compliance in Non-profit-Organizations, Wochenschau Verlag, Schwalbach/Ts., and are partially taken from it literally.



I. Name, registered office, address and year of foundation

rainbowtrekkers Kita gGmbH
Auf der Vierzig 2
50859 Köln

Amtsgericht Köln HRB 73661

The year of foundation was 2011. Predecessor organizations were the rainbowtrekkers day care center (2006 to 2008) and the rainbowtrekkers Joel and Shirley Mertens GmbH (2008-2012). In the summer of 2012 there was a transfer of operations from the last-mentioned private-profit GmbH to the rainbowtrekkers Kita non-profit GmbH.

II. Dokumente

Articles of association
Framwework conception

III. Non-profit status

Letter of tax exemtion

IV. Name and funtion of decision makers

1. On a company level
Joel Mertens, sole shareholder + CEO

2. On administration and kindergarten level
Management Meeting (principals+HR+QM+director)

Organization chart

V. Activity report

Kindergarten year 2022-23
Kindergarten year 2021-22
Kindergarten year 2020-21
Kindergarten year 2019-20

VI. Staff structure

Overhead: One position each for management, HR, secretarial office

Active educational staff: approx. 40 full-time equivalents

Volunteers: 32

Community servicers: No

Freelancers: Ja

Freiwillige (parent councils, reading sponsors): 32

VII: Source of funds

  1. Membership fees: No
  2. Income from own capital: No
  3. Income from commercial operations: No
  4. Free donations from citizens: Occasionally on a very small scale
  5. Free donations from companies: No
  6. Dedicated donations from citizens: Sometimes very small amounts
  7. Dedicated donations from companies: No
  8. Funds from public donations: No
  9. Free resources of regulated origin: No
  10. Grants from support associations: Yes (from 08/2020)
  11. Grants from foundations: No
  12. Funding from other civil society organizations: No
  13. Corporate sponsorship: No
  14. Service charges for private recipients: Yes, parental contributions (until 07/2020)
  15. Service charges of public institutions: No
  16. Public subsidies: Yes (Kibiz recources)

VIII. Application of funds

1. Balance sheets

Kindergarten year 2021-22
Kindergarten year 2020-21
Kindergarten year 2019-20
Trunk year 01.01.-31.07.19
Calendar year 2018
Calendar year 2017
Calendar year 2016
Calendar year 2015
Calendar year 2014
Calendar year 2013
Calendar year 2012
Calendar year 2011

2. Statements of expenditure

Investment costs Kita Junkersdorf 2019
Investment costs Kita Widdersdorf 2016
Investment costs Kita Junkersdorf 2012
Investment costs Kita Junkersdorf 2011
Investment costs Kita Lindenthal 2011
Investment costs Kita Lindenthal 2010

Special funding programme for bilingual groups 2017

We also prepare statements of expenditure of personalized funds for integration of children with disabilities. In those cases, reasons of personal data protection prevent publication.

IX. Corporate connection with third parties

The rainbowtrekkers Kita gGmbH is member of:

Deutscher Kitaverband
Bundesverband freier unabhängiger Träger von Kindertagesstätten e.V.
Französische Straße 12
10117 Berlin

Sponsorship association  “Early Education in Kindergarten”.
in the North-Rhine Westfalian chapter of Deutscher Kitaverband
c/o Kita Seepferdchen bei KinderHut
Prinzenallee 13
40549 Düsseldorf (Heerdt)

Deutscher Kinderschutzbund Ortsverband Köln e.V.
Bonner Straße 151
50968 Köln

X: Names of legal entities whose annual contribution represents more than ten percent of total annual income

City of Cologne

Members of:

Förderverein Frühe Bildung in der Kita
Transparente Zivilgesellschaft