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Selflessly serving society

We present society’s indispensable helpers: volunteers. Germans give a great deal of their time to different causes.

Without voluntary trainers there would be no new sporting talent.
Without voluntary trainers there would be no new sporting talent. © dpa

Germany. Much would not be done without them. Volunteers run clubs, teach youngsters sports and music, take care of children and lonely seniors, help refugees, extinguish fires and rescue accident victims. They serve society and fill gaps in public welfare provision.

What does voluntary work involve?

The term covers different forms of civil society engagement. People take on voluntary duties that benefit the community. This work is unpaid; at most, they might receive expenses.

How many people in Germany engage in voluntary work?

Some 43.6% of Germans over the age of 14 – roughly 31 million people – regularly become active for the good of society in their free time. This was the finding of the latest volunteer survey, which was conducted by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs in 2014.

Where are they active?

The highest numbers of volunteers are active in sport (16.3%), schools and kindergartens (9.1%) and the arts (9%). Over half of the volunteers work in clubs or associations. Without their participation, there would be neither local social activities nor local politics, because election workers, local councillors and mayors in small communities work on a voluntary basis. In addition to this, many Germans are active in church communities, help people in their neighbourhood and support environmental protection or animal welfare campaigns.

Especially important duties are performed by 1.7 million helpers in rescue services, voluntary fire services and disaster relief.

We’ll take care of you! Volunteers provide valuable assistance.
We’ll take care of you! Volunteers provide valuable assistance. © dpa

Who are the volunteers?

People who live in stable circumstances are more motivated to contribute their time and effort for the good of the community: it is striking that people with higher educational qualifications are almost twice as likely to engage in voluntary work as those with a lower level of education or the unemployed. And the willingness to become active is stronger in rural regions than in towns and cities.

Where can you do voluntary work in Germany and abroad?

Here you will find an overview of programmes and agencies:

Programmes for young people between 17 and 27 years of age: