What you need to know about donating to nonprofits in Germany

What you need to know about donating to nonprofits in Germany
A volunteer with the German nonprofit Bahnhofsmission, which helps people in need at train stations across Germany. Photo: DPA
Germany has hundreds of nonprofits and charities. If you're feeling philanthropic, here's how - and where - to make a contribution and difference.

What are Germany's non-profit organisations and how are they financed?

Today, there are over 600 charities and nonprofits in Germany. They range from domestic issues, including homelessness and substance abuse, to large international organisations assisting with humanitarian aid and environmental causes.

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Within the EU, public financing bears the biggest portion of the costs of funding these NGOs. It pays for 64.3 percent of NGO costs in Europe as opposed to the international average of 42.7 percent.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about working for an NGO in Germany

How do I donate to an NGO in Germany?

One of the most common forms of donation to charities that come from individuals in Germany remains making a bank transfer to support the charity.

Other ways include donating online through the charities’ e-payment systems. Berlin-based betterplace.org claims to be Germany’s largest e-donation system. A method of donation that’s becoming popular is crowdfunding, which is a great way for donors of modest means to make a difference. 

Another great way to donate and simultaneously ensure that the NGO that you are donating to is trustworthy is through DAFs (Donor-advised funds).

A DAF is an account or fund that you can create at a sponsoring organisation that is itself a qualified public charity, for example, a community foundation, faith-based organisation, or specialised provider. 

As the donor, you contribute cash or securities (stocks and shares), which the DAF administrator can sell to collect money for the NGO without paying any tax on it. This is, in turn, beneficial to the donor because DAFs offer a large income tax deduction upfront. One such organisation that offers DAFs is Founders Pledge.

How much do Germans usually give?

A report published by the Charities Aid Foundation that recorded charitable donations over ten years placed Germany 18th for charitable giving.

In rankings of charitable giving as a percentage of GDP donated to nonprofit organizations by individuals (in 2016), Germany was ranked 13th by the same report. 

What are some of Germany's largest NGOs?

Below is a partial list of some of Germany's largest non-profit organisations.

  • Crop Trust– a Germany-based international NGO that works on securing millions of crop varieties to make them available to farmers and plant breeders across the world. 

  • GermanWatch–  an independent development and environmental NGO that lobbies for sustainable global development. 

  • Medica Mondiale–  an NGO in Germany that works for women and girls in crisis and war zones around the world.

  • InterEuropean Human Aid Association– formed in 2015 in Germany to serve as a platform for coordination of volunteer efforts responding to humanitarian crises across the Balkans. 

  • forumZFD– established in 1996 as a response to the Balkan crisis and to help people overcome war and violence and support the on the path to peace. Currently, the organization works with peace consultants in Germany and ten other countries.

  • Plant for the Planet– Plant for the Planet is a German-based NGO that was formed to raise awareness on climate change amongst children and adults. Today, the organization’s volunteers have planted over 13.8 billion trees worldwide. 

  • DEMIRA–  founded in 1996 to give people in former war zones, humanitarian mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal ( Engl. Explosive Ordnance Disposal, EOD to help) and emergency medical treatment. 

  • Kindernothilfe– Kindernothilfe (Children's Emergency Aid) was founded on a commitment to child rights – promoting a child’s right to protection, provision and participation. It has been working on this cause for nearly 60 years. 

  • Robert Bosch Stiftung– This organization picks up on social issues at an early stage in three areas of support – education, health, and global issues.

  • ASW (Action for World Solidarity)- Supports projects in India, Brazil and several African countries that contribute to the empowerment of women, the protection of the environment and the implementation of human rights. 

  • Gerda Henkel Stiftung– The Gerda Henkel Foundation concentrates its support on the historical humanities. As part of the Lisa Maskell Fellowship programme, the Foundation supports young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia.


 


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