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Voluntary work in Germany: enjoying leisure time through community service

About 31 million people do voluntary work in Germany. They coach children in sports clubs, care for the sick and the elderly in nursing homes, and serve as volunteer firefighters or in aid organisations such as the German Red Cross – all without payment. Why do they do it? What role does voluntary work play in Germany? How can it help us adjust to future social change?

In Germany, the tradition of voluntary service goes back to the 19th century. Today, forty four per cent of all Germans over the age of 14 work on a volunteer basis for their communities. Their reasons for getting involved and the experiences they have are as varied as the tasks they take upon themselves.

Who are Germany's volunteers?

They teach children to swim, put out fires, distribute meals to the sick and the elderly, mediate in disputes and protect the environment. About 31 million Germans undertook voluntary work in 2014. The range of activities is vast. Anyone wishing to volunteer in Germany can choose from a wide variety of possibilities. In Germany, the oldest agency for volunteers is ‘Tatendrang’ (that means 'the urge to act') in Munich, which currently places volunteers in some 430 institutions and projects, including foundations, educational centres, animal welfare societies and many others.

It is worth taking a glance at the statistics: over the last fifteen years, the rate of social engagement has risen by almost ten percentage points. This is mainly due to social changes. In the age groups 14 to 29 years and 30 to 49 years, according to the Volunteer Survey 2014, the proportions of those involved are highest. Many volunteers are middle class, employed and well educated. In addition, a particularly strong increase, namely by 17 percentage points, can be observed among schoolchildren.

What leads people to volunteer?

People's reasons for volunteering vary according to the individual and are quite personal, as would be expected. The latest survey of volunteers conducted by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) in the year 2014 names a whole series of common motives Germans have for volunteering. Among these are primarily the pleasure afforded by a given activity and the opportunity to do something for the common good and change the world for the better, at least on a small scale. People also welcome the opportunity to expand their horizons and learn new skills. Young people, especially, often want to do something with other people and perhaps learn some useful skills in the process. Older people are more interested in passing on what they know to others, and also in doing something worthwhile when they retire.

Voluntary work in Germany: a pillar of support in German society

All of this underscores the importance of voluntary services in meeting the social challenges of the future both in Germany and in Europe as a whole. With society aging and the needs of growing numbers of older people having to be met by fewer young people, motivating people to get involved in voluntary work is particularly important. In the long run, our society will only be able to continue to enjoy a broad range of leisure and cultural activities and health care services if as many people as possible can be won over to the idea of taking on social support tasks on a volunteer basis.

Author: Elena Krüskemper


Update: December 2018

Volunteer agencies

Would you like to do voluntary work in Germany while you are here but don't know where and how to begin? Take a look on the internet to see if there is an agency for volunteers in the city you live in. Most of the websites of these agencies have a volunteers exchange where you can see which areas you can get involved in and to what extent. You will see a number of offers for volunteer service, with contact data and other important information. Why not give it a try?

Follow the link for further information (in German only).


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9 November 2018

We are a non-governamental organisation, enhancing the positive spirit of each other. Welcome to all kinds of religious and spiritual engagement, with maximal respect to everybody.

We do Raja Yoga, that is a global form of exercice to de-stress the body by meditation to enhance internal peace and harmony, due to observing, who we are and what makes us happy.

The programm consists of various types of activities which all the family can participate in (childrens age from 4 Years).

As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to experience a different culture and way of living. Volunteer positions include helping with and learning about vegetarian cooking, organic agriculture and nutrition, environmentally friendly construction/design projects, yoga, meditation, philosophy, and working with art and educational programs for the children living in and around the community. You can also bring your creative energies to work, make new friends, and have the experience of your life.

Our ashram yogam is a center of humanitarian and religious conscious.
All situations are depending on our friends and the volunteers as well as the need of improvisation; you are responsible for yourself.

Alumniportal Deutschland – Redaktion
10 September 2018

Dear Erick Mchau,

thank you very much for your comment. The Alumniportal Deutschland is not a volunteer organisation – we have just reported about volunteer programmes:


We would recommend you to contact the German development volunteer service weltwärts: https://www.weltwaerts.de/en/

All the best and kind regards,

Alumniportal Deutschland - Redaktion

Erick gadiel mchau
9 September 2018

Erick gadiel mchau
Dar es salaam/tanzania
Application for a volunteer service in Germany – Erick Mchau    

Dear Sir or Madam,

How are you? I hope that you are fine. My name is Erick Gadiel Mchau and I come from Tanzania. I would like to do a volunteer service in Germany and found your very appealing offers on your website. With this letter I would like to apply for participating in the volunteer program of your center

I am 22 years old and since I finished school in 2012 I work as artist and teacher. I am musician, actor, and dancer. I am professional piano player and know how to play guitar, bass and drums. (Ngoma- traditional drums) Since many years I am a member of the Talent Search and Empowerment and engage me in a wide field of activities. Next to my work with many different band projects, I am actor. My last big project was the – Kinjeketile lebt- which I set up in cooperation with the Pantheater in Hamburg. 

Furthermore I am one of the teachers of Talent Search and Empowerment (TSE) a small youth center in Dar es Salaam. I teach the TSE- dance group and the drama course. Each group I teach twice a week and organize shows where they can demonstrate their talents. I love it to give my knowledge to others and every day I am excited to learn something from others.

I think that this exchange of knowledge is something really important for me. My opinion is that a volunteer service is the perfect opportunity to get this exchange. I´ve been to Germany already three times for different theater projects and every time I came back with a lot of new experiences. I think a volunteer service in Germany for one year would be great to improve my personal skills. I want to learn German, I want to exchange ideas and I want to get to know the German culture. But also I would like to represent my own country in Germany. I think it is important that Germans get to know Tanzania or Africa. In the last  three months when  I was in Germany I tested if it is possible for me to stay longer in Germany and I saw that my motivation increases more and more. 

Enclosed you can find my Curriculum Vitae, where you can get a overview about my former activities in Germany and my home country Tanzania. I would love to hear from you. 

Kind regards

Erick Mchau

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