Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On Germany

Despite a thriving First World economy, German philanthropic and non-profit organisations are relying on a shrinking pool of donors.

In 2018, the total amount of philanthropic donations in Germany was around €5.5 billion, significantly less than other wealthy, developed nations. The challenge in Germany, said Larissa Probst, the managing director of Deutscher Fundraising Verband (DFRV) in an interview with the European Fundraising Association, is to stabilise and increase the number of donors, particularly by attracting the younger generation.

DFRV supports the German fundraising industry by creating better conditions for fundraisers, provides networking opportunities and fundraising training, and has been involved in the establishment of Engagement Stiftung, a public foundation to support activism by German NGOs.

“Given the rather low percentage of funds raised digitally and via social media in Germany, there is a huge possibility to raise funds, combine activism and fundraising, and find new and younger donor groups,” said Probst during the interview. The good news, she added, is that civil society is growing a strong volunteer element Fundraisers in Germany, she said, face a number of challenges. Although online fundraising has proved to be successful, most small NGOs lack sufficient resources to implement digital strategies and therefore miss out on this opportunity. Education around fundraising is another challenge. While the German Fundraising Academy does provide training for this sector, there is no fundraising education provided by universities in Germany.

Another challenge facing fundraisers is meeting growing expectations from donors, companies and foundations regarding what exactly non-profits should be able to deliver, including more financial transparency, lower overheads, faster services, increased donor involvement, stronger ethical standards, and more detailed reporting. Given a more interconnected world, Probst said non-profit organisations need to redefine their intermediary role and be able to justify their fundraising activities.

The Deutscher Stifterpreis (German Donors Award) is the highest accolade given in the German philanthropic sector. The winner of the 2018 award, Ise Bosch, published a book titled Transformative Philanthropy – Giving with Trust, which provides a different view of philanthropy and its possibilities for impact. She explains that wealthy Germans usually don’t display their wealth, and even fewer know what the term ‘philanthropy’ means.

Bosch is the granddaughter of the founder of one of Germany’s largest companies, Robert Bosch GmbH. The company is a significant philanthropic donor, giving €100 million a year. For her part, Ise Bosch has focused her philanthropic efforts on the LGBTQ community, adopting a grassroots, ground-up approach that aims to make maximum impact.


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