When it was established in 1920, the Marcel Benoist Foundation received a securities portfolio and a collection consisting of works of art and books, which was initially placed in the care of the City of Lausanne.
At the time the Foundation was set up, the assets in the securities portfolio were worth CHF 770,000. As there was healthy growth of the portfolio, the Foundation was able to award prize money of CHF 20,000. In 1966 a further CHF 750,000 was added to the capital from the sale of the art collection to the City of Lausanne, increasing the foundation capital to CHF 1,650,000. The prize money was then around CHF 35,000 francs and since 1974 has been between CHF 50,000 and CHF 70,000.
Thanks to wise investments by the trustees, on its 75th anniversary in 1995 the foundation had assets of CHF 2,510,000. In 1996 the Marcel Benoist Foundation received a donation of one million Swiss francs from the Silva Casa Foundation, executor of gallery owner and collector Justin Thannhauser’s widow, raising the value of the endowment to over three million Swiss francs. Owing to this generous gift, the Foundation increased the prize money to CHF 100,000.
The endowment capital of the Marcel Benoist Foundation has stabilised since the cuts that were made as a result of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. In 2016, the Foundation posted assets of around CHF 1.8 million, and the Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prize was endowed with a cash award of CHF 50,000.
Back in 2014-2015, it became clear that the future of the renowned annual Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prize could only be secured by putting the nearly 100-year-old Marcel Benoist Foundation on a more sustainable footing. The Board of Trustees therefore decided to increase the Foundation’s capital through fundraising. Thanks to substantial donations from a great many benefactors, the Foundation could already begin work in 2017 on implementing the core of its new vision. As a result, prize money now stands at a more fitting CHF 250,000, and there will be an official award ceremony, to be held in Bern.