Across Germany, civil society associations are reporting that the number of volunteers is declining. That comes from a survey. Sport is particularly affected. But not everyone is declining, some organizations have even reported increases, with a specific focus.

According to a study, restrictions in the wake of the corona pandemic have affected clubs in Germany. 21 percent of the civil society organizations surveyed reported a decline in the number of volunteers, as can be seen from the trend report by civil society in figures (Ziviz) in the Stifterverband. That is more than in the survey of 2012 (15 percent) and 2016 (17 percent).

Sports clubs were the most affected. 27 percent of those surveyed spoke of falling numbers, while environmental and nature conservation organizations reported increases. A nationwide decline in engagement cannot be proven, it said. According to the survey, there were around 657,000 civil society organizations nationwide last year, 18,000 more than in 2016. 94 percent of them were registered associations.

The rest were foundations under civil law, non-profit corporations and cooperatives geared towards the common good. “However, fewer new clubs are founded from year to year,” the study said. In the case of non-profit corporations, on the other hand, an increase of 27 percent has been observed since 2016. Clubs are founded more and more often as support groups, for example at schools or fire brigades.

The development of the number of clubs varies nationwide. From 2012 to 2022, the largest increase was in Berlin at 22.3 percent. Thuringia, on the other hand, recorded a decline of 7.8 percent. In Bremen, the minus was 7.2 percent. According to its own statements, the think tank ZiviZ in the Stifterverband published a report on the situation of the organizations for the first time in 2012. For the current survey, 125,000 organizations were randomly selected and around 12,800 took part in the survey. The study was supported by several state governments.