La Chaîne du Bonheur celebrates its 75th anniversary serving people in need

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Cabinet Minister Simonetta Sommaruga making commitments over the phone during a Chain of Happiness fundraiser in 2015. Keystone / Walter Bieri

Founded exactly three quarters of a century ago, the Chaîne du Bonheur – known as the “humanitarian arm” of Swiss public broadcasting – is today one of the main sources of funding for aid in the country. Over the years, he has raised a total of nearly 2 billion francs ($ 2.15 billion). SWI Swissinfo.ch goes back.

This content was published on September 29, 2021 – 09:00

Celine Stegmüller

La Chaîne du Bonheur is one of the country’s most emblematic charities. In September, it celebrates its 75th birthday, a milestone that will be marked by a special fundraising week for children in need in December.

The adventure dates back to 1946 in Lausanne, in the canton of Vaud. World War II had just ended and a large part of the Swiss population lived in poverty.

Two presenters of the French-speaking Swiss public radio station, now Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), Roger Nordmann and Jack Rollan, had the idea of ​​setting up a “solidarity chain” with their listeners to support those suffering from the effects of war.

A first call for donations was broadcast on September 26, 1946. It subsequently became a weekly program, called “Chaîne du Bonheur” or “Chaîne du Bonheur”. The objective was to collect humanitarian aid, according to a principle similar to that of chain letters.

The Lausanne workshop was regularly invaded with boxes of supplies, which were then redistributed by the Swiss Red Cross, the first partner organization of the “Chaîne du Bonheur”.

The initiative quickly spread from French-speaking Switzerland to the German-speaking area (with the “Glückskette”, from 1947) and to the canton of Ticino (with “La buona azione”, launched in 1948 and later renamed the “Catena della Solidarietà”).

The weekly radio show ended in 1954, but in the following years, the “Chaîne du Bonheur” resumed its airwaves whenever the news required it. Since 2013, the organization has been known as Solidarité Suisse in English.

More than 5,000 projects in Switzerland and abroad

Over the years, the Chaîne du Bonheur has broadened the scope of its humanitarian aid. Helping people in need in Switzerland, especially children, remains a priority. But its fundraising campaigns now also cover reconstruction efforts after natural disasters and support for victims of conflict and disease around the world.

The largest fundraiser in the history of the foundation took place in 2004-2005, following the tsunami in Southeast Asia, when 227 million francs were raised.

More recently, the Swiss coronavirus support campaign, launched last year in response to the pandemic, raised nearly 43.5 million Swiss francs and helped more than 1.7 million people. According to the organization, six million people affected by the health crisis in 17 countries have received support thanks to the international component of this special Covid operation.

The Chaîne du Bonheur redistributes the donations received between its partner organizations in the field, which currently number 24 (including Médecins Sans Frontières, the Red Cross and Caritas), and guarantees transparency regarding the use of the money. .

How to give

Donations can be made directly online on the Chaîne du Bonheur websiteExternal link, or via his postal account 10-15000-6. Donors can direct their donations to a specific cause (eg Afghanistan, Haiti earthquake or Covid campaigns) or let the organization decide where the money can be best used.

Since its launch 75 years ago, the Chaîne du Bonheur has raised 1.9 billion francs through nearly 260 fundraising campaigns, making it the main source of humanitarian funding at the national level over this period. According to the organization, the funds were used to support nearly 5,100 projects.

The next campaign on the calendar is the Chaîne du Bonheur anniversary fundraiser, which will take place from 12 to 17 December, in cooperation with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of SWI swissinfo.ch. The focus will be on children in need, both at home and abroad, according to the organization’s deputy director, Catherine Baud-Lavigne.


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