Active Citizenship & Communities

Germany is a country of active citizenship: some 31 million German citizens are involved in work for their fellow men and women and for society as a whole – in clubs, schools, environmental organisations and charities, as well as in migrant organisations, intercultural groups and religious communities. This commitment constitutes an important contribution to society which is complementary to government measures and more far-reaching. Perhaps you would like to get involved too. Besides the feeling of doing something worthwhile, you also have the chance of developing your networks or even finding new friends.

Active Citizenship & Communities

Active citizenship in Germany

Active citizenship in Germany

Do you want to get actively involved in environmental or social work? Or would you like to have contact with people from your home country or of the same religion as you? You’ll find a wide range of possibilities in Germany. The "Engagiert in Deutschland" Web page in German provides a good initial overview.

You are free to decide what voluntary work you want to do, as under German legislation everyone is free to choose which legal association, party or religious community they wish to join. However, you may be expected to pay a membership fee. You can ask the organisation you wish to join for details. Of course, you can also found a club or another kind of organisation yourself.

One thing is certain: it will do nothing but good. Because your commitment means not only exercising social responsibility and helping others, it is also a way of achieving personal development. You can let your potential and creativity unfold, meet other people, get to know local or internationally operating bodies and improve your language skills. So why not play a day-to-day role in this and help to shape your environment by giving something of yourself!

Active citizenship as a parent

Many schools and day care centres in Germany depend on the active involvement of the parents. You regularly get to meet the teaching and educational staff as well as other parents at parents’ evening. As well as this, you can also join a parents’ group. By maintaining a constant dialogue with teachers or educators, you will be able to take an active role in the day-to-day life of your child at school or at the kindergarten (Kita). Moreover, you will be kept informed about his or her education and school work or get counselling, as well as being able to contribute your own ideas. You can find out exactly what you can do by asking the teachers or other parents. Also, you can find a list of parents' associations on theGerman-language Web site „Planet Beruf“.

Involvement in intercultural work 

Virtually all towns and cities have places where peoples of different cultures and immigrant organisations can meet. Here, people of different origins, cultures, religions, ages and nationalities come together. Besides their involvement in social issues, these associations usually offer a multitude of different intercultural activities – cultural festivals, leisure activities, sports, and grants for basic and advanced education. But the principal aim is to foster cultural exchange and mutual respect. Many towns and cities have an office for multicultural/intercultural affairs, or for integration, an integration officer and a council of religions. Here, committed individuals work towards ensuring that different cultures and religions in Germany live together in harmony. Perhaps you would like to do voluntary work with one of these organisations, or share your culture and traditions with others too.

Active citizenship for your home country

If you want to do something to help your home country, again Germany is a good place for doing so and offers a variety of possibilities.

  • Joining an association/donating money: Do you want to help fund an actual issue or project in your home country? In Germany, you could collect donations, join an association or even found a new association yourself.
  • Exchanges: You might even get a chance to put the contacts and experience you have acquired in Germany to good use: perhaps your new company is interested in setting up a permanent exchange with your former school or university as a means of fostering potential new recruits. Otherwise, you might have the opportunity of finding new markets for your employer in your home country, or of putting your knowledge and experience at the service of development in your home country in a domain where there is a particular need.
  • Helping the family: For many people who move to Germany, it is important to support their family back home with goods, or financially by transferring cash to them. The figures of the World Bank provide cogent proof of this. They show that in 2014, private individuals transferred a total of just under 20,8 million US dollars from Germany to foreign countries. The fees charged for this kind of transfer vary widely depending on the service provider and the type of transfer. This is why the independent www.geldtransFAIR.de (German) offers a cost-free comparison of providers and methods for transferring money abroad, so that you can find the best one for you.

Building bridges – active citizenship for development

Many people with a migrant background work in all kinds of ways to help development in their countries of origin or other regions. This way, they can act as key bridge-builders between the two worlds, because people who know different cultures, languages and regional contexts have a wealth of potential which can lend great impetus to mutual understanding, cooperation and development The German government runs a number of initiatives and programmes to support them in this:

  • The "Engagement-global.de" (German) platform provides information about the different ways you can get involved in development work.
  • The Centre for International Immigration and Development (CIM) can help you with various programmes:
    • The "Migranten als Brückenbauer" ("Migrants as Bridge-builders") programme: this funds not-for-profit projects by migrant organisations working in Germany which are working to improve living conditions in their countries of origin.
    • The "Returning Experts Programme" will help if you wish to return to your country of origin.

Complete Guide to "Living in Germany"

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Information on this portal

A bike ride or a football game – Ideas for your leisure time

Why people from all over the world feel at home in Germany (German, English, Spanish)

Everyone in Germany is guaranteed a life in dignity and freedom

Information on the World Wide Web

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

Information about the commitment of advisory boards (German, English, Russian and Turkish)

Information about migrant organisations in Germany (German, English, Russian, Turkish)

More than 500.000: How to find fascinating associations and clubs (German, English, Russian and Turkish)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Migration: Harnessing the opportunities to promote development (PDF, 1,20 MB) (German)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Funding of immigrants‘ private business activities (German, English)

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