The coronavirus pandemic was a tough blow that affected many of us personally in 2020. We reinvented the foundation during the pandemic with the courage to try new things.
To be able to continue with our political education work in Germany we had to switch over very quickly from analogue to digital. Partly thanks to the introduction of a new organisational structure in 2014 and our investments in digital processes and infrastructure, we managed introduce mobile working in mid-March 2020 in a matter of hours, and it only took us a few days to transform our education and talent sponsorship programmes into digital offerings. It was a fantastic team effort by everyone involved in the foundation’s education programme and the following figures show what a huge achievement it was. Although 2020 was a pandemic year and 2019 a record year, the number of participants in our education programme rose again to 113,000 at 1,668 events, 74 % of which were online events. Even major events such as the presentation of the Freedom Award 2020 to Friede Springer or the Speech on Freedom 2020 by Ahmad Mansour were high-profile occasions, despite their hybrid format with just a few guests attending in person.
We launched the ‘Generation Aufbruch’ (Generation Change) campaign and hosted a series of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of German unity. The campaign particularly focused on the young generation in our country that only knows a divided Germany from the history books. We wanted to emphasise the things that we have in common without losing sight of the differences. Various articles, events and a podcast series with portraits of successful entrepreneurs, as well as a fact check with 30 amazing facts on 30 years of German unity, impressively underline the German unity success story.
Our excellent education track record is also reflected in the FNF’s communication figures. The number of visitors to our website freiheit.org increased by 110 % to more than 1.6 million, our media reach went up by 50 % compared to 2019 and, as a result, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is now the third-highest-ranked political foundation in Germany in terms of media reach. Facebook and YouTube reach also increased by 45 % and 100 % respectively. Our online campaigns in 2020, such as #FreedomFightsFake or #GenerationAufbruch provided us with excellent platforms for achieving growth in digital reach and for promoting our education programme.
One of our foreign projects was a global campaign on our topic of the year, ‘fake news’. It included a hybrid global conference on 20 and 21 September 2020, flanked by the #FreedomFightsFake campaign. Sadly, the U.S. election made our topic of the year even more relevant, although we also followed the developments in Russia, the Middle East and especially Hong Kong very closely. Closing our project office in Hong Kong was another turning point in our assessment of political developments in the People’s Republic of China, where we have not been allowed to operate an own project office since the mid-1990s. The relocation of the Global Innovation Hub to Taiwan makes us optimistic that we can continue with our work in the region to promote democracy, freedom and human rights. At the same time, we have registered a new Global Partnership Hub in Kenya, where we hope to contribute to a new development policy approach based on a partnership of equals in Africa.
We have continued to expand our topical expertise in many areas of policy. One of the highlights of the year was certainly the Education Trend Guide. In addition to covering future education policy trends, it also provides answers to current pandemic-related challenges and thus forms the basis for interesting events, articles and publications.
The year 2020 challenged us on all fronts, testing our determination, our creativity, our courage, our resilience and our commitment. Despite the crisis, however, it has been a good year for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s political education work. Education and truth gain in both importance and urgency in times like these, which are overshadowed by ‘alternative facts’, false prophets, misleaders and populists. We remain committed to educating people about the spirit of openness and tolerance as your Foundation for Freedom!