Voluntary services

“Freiwilligendienst”, the German term for „voluntary service”, has undergone a shift in meaning. Until the end of the 1990s, the term described almost exclusively a manageable number of mostly one-year fulltime programs for adolescents and young adults.

Since then a whole range of new types of voluntary services has emerged that differ strongly from the model described above. They differ in regard to the age group, timeframe, field of application, and curricula. The turning point came in 2005 at the latest, when the start of the new model program “Generationsübergreifende Freiwilligendienste” GüF (Cross-generational voluntary services) made clear that voluntary services in Germany could no longer be used synonymously with youth voluntary services.

Voluntary services differ from civic engagement particularly through their limitation to a specific time period and through a contractual or legal commitment which sets the formalities of the service. The differentiation to paid work can be made when looking at qualification and remuneration: Voluntary services do not require any specific professional qualifications and – apart from allowances or paid expenses – they do not grant any remuneration.

In their core voluntary services are designed as places of (self-)education and biographical orientation. They provide the framework for the acquisition of social, personal and instrumental competences and allow access to new environments. These objectives and goals – and not the fact that volunteers carry out a lot of useful work – legitimate the particular federal support of voluntary services.

The zze conducts research regarding the different shapes of voluntary services and coordinates the development of the intergenerational services “Generationsübergreifender Freiwilligendienst” GüF (Cross-generational voluntary services) and the successor program “Freiwilligendienste aller Generationen” FDaG (Voluntary services for all generations).



Dr. Hans-Joachim Lincke

Executive director

Tel.: 0761/ 47812-695
E-Mail: lincke@zze-freiburg.de

Philipp Stemmer


Philipp Stemmer

Tel.: 040/ 23898-366
E-Mail: stemmer@zze-freiburg.de

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Zentrum für zivilgesellschaftliche Entwicklung

Bugginger Str. 38
D-79114 Freiburg
Tel: +49 (0)761 47812-140
E-Mail: info@zze-freiburg.de


zze Berlin

Karl-Marx-Allee 77-79
D-10243 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 296802-47
E-Mail: info@zze-berlin.de


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