In 2007 Martin and Gerda Essl and their children decided to donate a substantial part of their assets for social purposes.
The Martin and Gerda Essl Sozialpreis Gemeinnützige Privatstiftung ("Essl Foundation") was established in March 2008. It is endowed with sustainable financial resources to ensure the award in the long term - even after the death of the founders.
The purpose of the foundation, according to its constitution,
- to support people in need and
- to promote public awareness about the necessity to support people in need and
- to provide proper education and training for all persons involved in its projects.
Currently the Essl Foundation is focusing its activities on:
- the annual award of the Essl Social Prize
- the Zero Project, an initiative started by the Essl Foundation to support the implementation of the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities, by creating social indicators and highlight good practices and good policies
- "Sinnstifter", a joint effort of Austrian philanthropists to support social innovation and philanthropy in Austria
- support of Ashoka in Austria, Ashoka initiatives and the selection of Ashoka Fellows in Austria and neighbouring Central and Eastern European countries