The idea of the Migros Culture Percentage was first thought up by Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler. In accordance with his wishes, the Federation of Migros Cooperatives and the regional Migros cooperatives commit to making a yearly contribution to the Migros Culture Percentage. This is calculated based on turnover and adjusted in case of a decline in retail business.
This truly unique commitment guarantees the continuity of the Migros Culture Percentage and has been firmly incorporated into the Migros by-laws. As a corporate objective, it is placed on an equal footing with commercial success.
Institutions and Projects
Culture, society, education, leisure and the economy are the main pillars of the Migros Culture Percentage, whose institutions include the Migros Club School, the GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Rüschlikon, four “Parks im Grünen” (Green Meadow Parks), the Monte Generoso railway in Ticino and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (contemporary art museum) in Zurich.
Activities and projects make up a further component of this commitment. Here, the Migros Culture Percentage sees itself as a catalyst that seeks to work together with other private and public organisations. It also provides support for projects and individuals in the form of financial contributions and study prizes.
The Migros Culture Percentage is founded on Adele and Gottlieb Duttweiler’s 15 Theses, as well as the by-laws of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives.
The Migros Culture Percentage first took shape and was fixed into the by-laws in 1957, by contractual agreement between the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB) and the affiliated member cooperatives.
In the current regulation of 2004, the provisions relating to the Migros Culture Percentage read as follows:
“MGB will invest the funds constituting the “Culture Percentage” in cultural, social, economic policy causes. (...) At MGB, cultural, social and economic objectives stand on an equal footing with commercial success.”
The Migros Culture Percentage goes back to Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler (1888–1962), a businessman and politician who placed cultural and social objectives on an equal footing with commercial success.
Gottlieb Duttweiler was born on 15 August 1888 in Zurich. He completed a commercial apprenticeship at the grocer Pfister & Sigg before becoming a partner at the company. He later went on to run a coffee plantation in Brazil with his wife, Adele.
After returning to Switzerland, he founded Migros AG, a sales organisation which dispensed with intermediary wholesalers. The story of the company’s success began with its legendary vans, which sold basic foods at prices up to 40% lower than the competition.
A versatile pioneer
Duttweiler’s pioneering social spirit came to have an impact on Swiss politics, too. He founded the Alliance of Independents in 1935, which won seven seats on the National Council on its first attempt.
As a businessman, Duttweiler was also committed to the idea of a social marketplace. Along with his wife, he made Migros’s customers members and joint owners of the cooperative.
An enduring influence
In 1941, Gottlieb Duttweiler decided for the first time to devote a fixed share of Migros’s turnover to cultural and social causes. The ten Migros co-operatives continue to assure his legacy is fulfilled today.
Gottlieb Duttweiler died on 8 June 1962 in Rüschlikon, near Zürich.