GLS Bank: A brief portrait

The GLS Bank was the first social and ecological bank in Germany. GLS stands for "Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken", which translates as "community bank for loans and gifts". The bank was founded in 1974 and it currently finances around 23,000 projects and businesses.

The Bank focuses on cultural, social and ecological projects which try to tackle challenges in our society by developing creative solutions. Loans are offered to projects like independent schools and kindergartens, organic farms, institutions using therapeutic pedagogy, nursing homes, projects for the unemployed, health-food stores and communal living projects, as well as sustainable businesses. Transparency is one of the main objectives of the GLS: details of all initiatives and companies that receive loans are published in its magazine "Bankspiegel", together with information on the development of the bank itself.

The GLS Bank offers its savers the usual range of financial products:

  •     Current Accounts
  •     GLS Savings Accounts
  •     GLS Savings Certificates
  •     Investment funds
  •     Bank Membership

What distinguishes the GLS Bank is not only the fact that the GLS invest their savers’ money responsibly, but also that savers with the GLS can choose the area in which their money will be invested.

Moreover, when customers choose reduced interest payments for their savings, the GLS Bank is able to grant loans to charitable projects with an interest rate that only covers the basic loan administration costs of the bank.

The work of the bank is supported by more than 40.000 cooperative members.

The GLS Bank has its head office in Bochum and has established branches in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. GLS cooperates with the GLS Treuhand in Bochum and the GLS Beteiligungsaktiengesellschaft. The bank is part of the German "Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken" and has signed up to their guarantee system for the depositors’ money.

GLS Treuhand

The GLS Treuhand (GLS Charitable Trust Foundation), founded in 1961, is an association of more than 350 (May 2013) charitable organizations. The GLS Treuhand has comprehensive experience in the arrangement of donations and large fortunes and in handling wills and estates. Its main areas of activity are fundraising, consultation regarding private legacies and transforming business into charitable capital.

The GLS Treuhand acts as a charitable trust administrating various foundations.  With the 5 “Foundations for the Future” (“Zukunftsstiftungen”) the GLS Treuhand is engaged in the areas of

  •     Agriculture
  •     Development aid
  •     Education
  •     Health care
  •     Social welfare

As of 31 December 2012 the business volume was 80 million EUR. At present major emphasis is placed on small private donations.

GLS Beteiligungsaktiengesellschaft (BAG)

The GLS Beteiligungsaktiengesellschaft (BAG) was founded in 1995 and is a subsidiary owned by the GLS Bank. Its objective is to assist companies with finding equity capital and its share capital amounts to 3,2 million EUR. The BAG has issued funds for renewable energy and the social economy. One example is a fund which was used to purchase the power-supply-system in Schönau, a small town situated in the Black Forest in Germany. A substantial part of the BAG investments consists of windmill parks, a growing source of energy in Germany.

Here you will find some further information

Formulare & Broschüren Wofür brauchen Sie das?
Mission Statement (PDF | 103.94kB)

GLS Bank English Portrait (PDF | 6.08MB)

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