Germany is not a classic volunteeringnation, such as the Netherlands, United Kingdom or the USA. Certainly, in 2008it was claimed that the growth of the German civil society structure has onlytaken place in the past decade1. The German impression of well-beingis primarily considered by the “principle of subsidiarity”, that, in theprovision of core welfare services, gives favourite to Non-for-Profit Organizations (NPO) over public services. In theprinciple of subsidiarity, NPOs can entitlepublic financial support.
Subsidiarity wasdeveloped after the World War II as part of the social legislation and createdthe six “peak” associations of the welfare sector in the Federal Republic ofGermany (FRG), which composed constitute the Federal Association of theVoluntary Welfare Organisations (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der FreienWohlfahrtspflege)2. NPO in Germany is a member of one of thefollowing “peak” organizations: 1. Worker’sWelfare Service (Arbeiterwohlfahrt, AWO) 2. GermanCaritas Association (Caritasverband) 3.
Associationof Non-affiliated Charities (Deutscher Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, DPWV) 4. GermanRed Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, DRK) 5. WelfareService of the Protestant Church (Diakonisches Werk) 6. CentralWelfare Agency of the Jews in Germany (Zentrale Wohlfahrtsstelle der Juden inDeutschland). Traditional charitable societies have integrated volunteers in all areas oftheir activities. Nevertheless, volunteering took place generally in theframework of the “peak” organizations andturn into more peripheral due to the professionalizationof social work since in the 1970s. In 1990, there was a change in the easy-goingof what volunteering means. New organizationswere been founded, and at the same time,the “peak” organizations have turned into more volunteer-oriented.
Due to thedivision of Germany and the separated political systems voluntary commitmentdeveloped in a different way over four decades3. In the past German Democratic Republic(GDR) volunteering was most closelyrelated to “mass social organizations” (gesellschaftlicheMassenorganisationen). Though the GDR constitution assured the people the freedom to associate, all organizations, suchas political parties, trade unions or voluntary organizations, had to acceptthe ultimate authority of the Socialist Unity Party (SozialistischeEinheitspartei Deutschlands, SED).
There was no liberation from state controland party philosophy. Afterwards, local organizations had to join one of the”mass social organizations” such as the Free German Youth (Freie DeutscheJugend, FDJ) or the cultural association (Kulturbund). Yet, these local organizations operated much like non-profitorganizations.
Government funds or fees, as well as private aids, supported theorganizations. Moreover, the party philosophyrelated voluntary actions or campaigns, volunteering also took place under theroof of the Lutheran Church. The Catholic Church was less represented due tothe lesser number of members. In practice,this has meant that most social services are provided by free welfare organizations, which have the right to claimpublic financial support.
Volunteering has been projecting in this framework, specificallyin the early years before the NPOs started attracting more and more professionalized (in the 1970s). There is always a problematic situation with the terminology on the current negotiation about volunteering because of competingconcepts are used in Germany. The traditional term honorary work (Ehrenamt) definesvoluntary work as a commitment informal organisations such as associations,societies or clubs that is either unpaid or against an expense allowance. Now, activities may be executed in the frameof formal or informal organisations and comprise sports and recreation, cultureas well as self-help, neighbourhood activities, and activities in civic actiongroups. In order to reflect this wide range of actions consistent with the model of a participatory society, theconcepts voluntary involvement (freiwilligesEngagement), volunteer work or volunteering (Freiwilligenarbeit) have beenintroduced4. In the final report of the Federal Parliament’s StudyCommission on the Future of Civic Activities, the term voluntary civicactivities (bürgerschaftliches Engagement) was used to emphasise the specificcharacter of all activities expected voluntarily. Civic involvement is agreedas “responsibilities for others” and “becoming active as a member of thecommunity”5.
Within the framework of volunteering,voluntary service programmes have a long tradition in Germany6.After quite a lot of campaigns controlled by the Catholic and Lutheran Churchesin the 1950s, the ancestors to thevoluntary service programmes were translated into policies in 1964 in the FRG.The Voluntary Year of Social Services (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr, FSJ) hasbeen accommodated by social welfare organisations and offered young people the opportunityto volunteer fulltime for 12 months in social and health care. The activities involvedto work with physically disabled orelderly as well as work in hospitals.
There was an equal service introduced bythe Lutheran and Catholic Church in the former GDR. Called “Diakonisches Jahr”(service within the “Diaconia”, the Lutheran church-related socialwelfare work) or “Jahr für Gott” (a Year for God, render service in the Catholic social welfare work) it was a chance typicallyfor women to work voluntarily in the social field. The new legislation in 1994the Voluntary Year of Ecological Services (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr, FÖJ)was introduced proposing young people the possibility to volunteer in theenvironmental field.
The renewed legislation in 2002,the fields of activity of the voluntary service were improved to culture and recreation.Today the voluntary service programmes offer young people who finished their fulltime schooling up to the age of 26 to link volunteer activities with concretepractical experience in a professional area7.Thedevelopment volunteer service weltwärts was founded in 2008 by the GermanFederal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Since 2013 volunteers from developing andemerging countries have also been able to take part in development volunteerservice in Germany. This intensifies the exchange between people from thesecountries and Germany and promotes the networking of all volunteers andpartners in the weltwärts programme. Weltwärts continues to be built out as aprogramme for global learning. The places of assignment benefit from the workof motivated volunteers that can shed new light on things and can alsostrengthen intercultural understanding.
Many partner organizations that have previously hostedvolunteers from Germany thus become sending organizationsthemselves. This contributes significantly to the strengthening and expansionof the existing partnerships and to equal exchange. The new programme components should be open to a broad circle ofyoung adults from developing or emerging countries. By the end of 2016, 840 young people had made use of thisopportunity8.
The context of the study is to find integralchallenges of the volunteers from the perspective of Asia, Africa and LatinAmerica.