The Foundation

The DD Foundation is a private, non-profit social enterprise based in Estonia, founded in 2002.

As a social enterprise we finance most of our program work ourselves through different business activities – from real estate management in our building in Tartu to our strategy consultancy services. This means that grants have historically made up a fraction of our yearly budget – giving us a high degree of independence in our work.

We fulfill our mission with the DD Academy program for students, DD StratLab consultancy services for mission-driven organizations and institutional development work with the DD Center for Developing Democracy.

Our principles

On our road to building the institutions that enable development, we follow some guiding principles.

Long term

We are building an institution to last much longer then ourselves. This changes our perspective to everyday things.

We care, a lot

Our heart is in what we do. We have hope for the world and the humanity. We put in 110% of ourselves to realise that hope.​

We bow to no one

We are independent - legally, financially, ideologically, politically. And are ready to fight to keep it so.

Leadership adds value

We combine our hope with evidence-based strategic thinking and leadership skills in our own work and in what we teach.

Avoid inventing wheels

We learn from the world - on how to build DD, how to consult and what to teach the next generation of changemakers.

Finally, this is a home

We believe in teams and communities. We also believe in being human, having a laugh and caring about each other.

Our DNA and Strategy

Check out the document that describes the main essence of DD and our larger strategic plans. The DNA part of the document describes our more timeless aims, the development plan is meant to outline our goals and developments for 2018-25.

Our History

DD was founded in 2002 by Alexander von Rücker (professor at Bonn University, center), Mr Jenik Radon (professor at Columbia University, left) and Mr Nils Hollberg (president of the Society for the Restoration of Baltic Historical Buildings, right).

The Foundation was created in the former home of Professor von Rücker’s family (at the town square of Tartu) with the purpose of supporting the development of the Estonian society – by becoming a place where science, culture, civil society, environmental protection and other important areas of society could find support.

The first CEO of DD was Kristiina Tõnnisson (Head of the Institute of Political Studies in University of Tartu) who launched the Foundation’s initial societal work with various projects – The Network of Tolerant Tartu, Meet the World evenings and many others.

Since 2010/2011 the focus of DD’s societal work became the development of young people with great potential for positive impact for the world. For several years this meant that around 100 students organized more than 50 events each year (civil society week, TEDxTartu, political debates etc), all the while acquiring many different transferable skills.

In time this led to the creation of the DD Academy program in 2015 which was solely focused on providing the most intense and impactful development program for young people in Estonia. During the same time, DD also run SEIKU – a social enterprise incubator.

In 2018 DD StratLab consulting services were launched.

Our building

Our building resides right beside the Town Hall. The oldest part of the stone house, built before 1755, has still preserved its mansard roof and baroque roof-windows. The building takes additional architectural value in the fact that it was not damaged in World War II and has alone in the vicinity of the Town Hall preserved its historical authenticity.

The offices of DD reside in this building today.

Meet our people

Our leadership, employees and volunteers.