Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 128

126 | 127 SOCIETY TOPIC COMMITTED CIVIL SOCIETY Around 23 million Germans are involved in expenditure are the Volkswagen Founda- voluntary work in their spare time, thus tion, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Bertelsmann assuming responsibility for society. This Stiftung, Hans Böckler Foundation and commitment is often long term – on average WWF Deutschland. volunteers have been active for ten years. Civic commitment is estimated at 4.6 bil- Community foundations are strongly on the lion hours worked annually. Together with rise, foundations in which several citizens and charities, churches, cooperatives, aid or- firms act as joint funders to support local or ganisations, non-profit organisations and regional projects. The first foundations of this private initiatives, the members of the kind were established in 1996 – in mid-2015 580,000 associations form the backbone of there were as many as 275 community founda- the “third sector”. Civil society refers to the tions recognised by the Association of Ger- section of society that is not shaped by man Foundations. Civil commitment has government or party politics, but gets in- slightly increased in recent years, but is shift- volved in social and political issues volun- ing more strongly away from the larger asso- tarily and publicly. ciations and towards small, self-organised groups and alternating projects. Currently Foundations in particular have become there are numerous people in Germany in- increasingly significant. With more than volved on a voluntary basis in local initiatives 20,000 incorporated foundations under civil supporting refugees. law, the classic legal form of a foundation, Germany has one of the highest numbers of Involvement in parties, trade unions, and foundations in Europe. Since the turn of the non-governmental organisations millennium some 12,500 civil-law foundations have been established; more than half Socio-political involvement in parties, trade of all foundations of this kind in existence unions and NGOs enables people to help shape today. On a national average, there are 26 things on a strategic and political level. Here foundations for every 100,000 inhabitants. volunteering opens a door to intensive demo- Taken together, all foundations have assets cratic participation. The major established amounting to approximately 70 billion organisations however are finding it increas- euros. They spend around 17 billion on ingly difficult to get volunteers on board. charitable causes, traditionally social issues (28.8 percent), education, science and cul- There is particular potential for volunteer ture. The five largest foundations in terms of work in the 14 to 24-year age bracket. The