In 2020 the German economy was way ahead of all other European countries, with a reported Gross Domestic Product of €3.3 trillion euros. In spite of this, in the same year it was reported that 15.9% of the German population were at risk of falling below the poverty threshold. Thankfully, a huge number of foundations (Stiftung, in German) have been set up to tackle various injustices and inequality both internationally and domestically, raising money and awareness for extremely worthy causes. The hard work and determination of these organisations has resulted in significant changes to millions of peoples’ lives.
We have collated a list of the Top 35 Charities, including links to the official websites of each organisation, should you wish to find out more about them or donate to their cause.
Education can be described as the process of facilitating learning which can take the form of formal or informal teaching, physical and vocational training, discussion and debate, as well as directed research. In this section we will look at the various charities in Germany which have been set up to improve different types of education - artistic, musical, religious, physical, developmental, historical and cultural - by imparting knowledge, skills and beliefs upon a select group of people.
Documenta | https://www.documenta.de/
Artist and teacher Arnold Bode founded Documenta in 1955 with the hope of reintroducing the German public to the joy of international art, following the Nazis myopic reign of terror. Compensating for the last few decades, Bode hosted an exhibition of contemporary art which attracted over 130,000 visitors. The exhibition has been dubbed “Museum of 100 Days” due to the historical duration of each Documenta, which comes to the city of Kassel, every 5 years. Funding is provided by the City of Kassel, the State of Hesse and the German Federal Cultural Foundation and this educational non-profit has become an authority figure in timers of discourse about international art and culture.
Die Tagespost | https://www.die-tagespost.de
The English translation for Die Tagespost is “The Daily Mail”; but this German publication is not to be confused with the UK-based media conglomerate. Available in both print and online format, the weekly newspaper has been sponsored by its readers since the Rettet die Tagespost (Save Die Tagespost) campaign of 2018, which saw readers donate the 300,000 euros needed to ensure the continued production of the publication. Die Tagespost has been running since 1948 and is known as “Catholic journalism”, with regular features including updates from the Vatican, internal and political church issues, and coverage of the Pope’s latest pronouncements.
The Daniel Barenboim Foundation | https://daniel-barenboim-stiftung.org/
Striving to educate young Germans through musical and performance opportunities, The Daniel Barenboim Foundation is based in Berlin and supported by an international network of foundations and partners. The charity runs a number of projects and its annual events calendar is primarily focused on performance opportunities such as concert tours and education projects, as well as offering individual grant programs.
Service Civil International (SCI) | https://www.sci-d.de/english
Set up after the World Wars, this charity works to “defy borders and barriers through joint work and mutual assistance”. SCI achieves this by recruiting like-minded volunteers from across Germany to organise and assist with community projects related to areas including but not limited to, development education, sustainability, health care and migration. One of the main areas volunteers focus on is “Education and Peace Training on Cultural Conflicts”, a subject close to the organisation’s heart.
Die ARCHE Kinderstiftung | http://www.kinderprojekt-arche.de/
Die ARCHE works with children, teenagers and families on their mission to combat child poverty and pioneer “meaningful leisure activities.” The charity covers all bases when it comes to educational support; from free meals, holiday camps, relationship mentoring and even help and advice for parents. Their work is based on Germany’s Transparent Civil Society Initiative and there are 30 Die Arche locations around the country as well as an recreational facility in Warsaw, Poland.
Children for a Better World | https://www.children.de/
Passionate about providing for the younger generations of Germany, the tag line for this organisation is “With Children, For Children!” Based in Munich, CHILDREN was set up in 1994 to provide aid to young people in need. At over 70 locations nationwide, offer a safe space for children to voice their thoughts and feelings about social, political and environmental issues, by participating in free workshops and engaging with other kids of a similar age.
Freudenberg Stiftung | https://www.freudenbergstiftung.de/
Located in Bergstraße, this educational project promotes democratic values across schools and society around the nation. According to the Freudenberg Stiftung mission statement, the charity is “committed to a strong democratic civil society in Europe, with a focus on Germany from the start.” Mentors and teachers from a diverse background work together to produce educational material that touches on cultural and racial inclusion, democratic communities, integration and migration, through talks, workshops and digital media engagement.
Stiftung Childaid Network | https://www.childaid.net/
Advocating for the education and personal development of children all over the world, Stiftung Childaid Network firmly believes knowledge is power. Founded in Frankfurt, this nonprofit primarily concentrates on educating and training young people across 4 main regions of South-East Asia in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. With the help of partners, sponsors and volunteers in the target counties. Childaid is able to provide teachers and social workers to communities in need.
Stiftung Mittagskinder | https://www.stiftung-mittagskinder.de/
This award-winning children’s charity was founded in 2004 in Hamburg, designed to help socially disadvantaged young people by providing them with opportunities to develop their life and social skills through education and relationship building. Through a series of Children’s Clubs, the foundation covers reading, languages, science and activities such as swimming and table tennis, with meals for all attendees.
Pen Paper Peace | https://www.pen-paper-peace.org/
As the name suggests, this charity champions the importance of broadening childrens’ educational prospects, giving young people in disadvantaged parts of the world access to free resources. Having set up schools in Haiti, Honduras and Namibia, Pen Paper Peace emphasises arithmetic, reading and writing, as well as digital and agricultural training programs.
Help Alliance | https://www.helpalliance.org
Founded by global aviation group Lufthansa in 1999, this non-profit foundation works to bring about social change by supporting children, adolescents and young adults through developmental projects. Over the course of their 20 year history, Help Alliance has ventured across Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, in a bid to improve education systems worldwide.
PaSch | http://www.pasch-paten.de/
Patenschaften für Schulkinder (PaSch) believes all children deserve the same educational development opportunities. In partnership with the Berlin Network for Child Sponsorships, the organisation sponsors children aged 5 - 13 years old, all of whom are invited to take part in personal and social development activities including excursions around Berlin and community get-togethers.
The EKAYANA Foundation Fund for Contemporary Buddhism | https://stiftung.ekayana-institut.de
The Buddhist term “ekayana” means “one way” or “way of awakening”; this non-profit has adopted this approach to their charity work, by offering “one way to develop a deeper and wider awareness of what is and how it is.” There is no age limit to the recipients of this organisation and the list of educational projects provided centre around Buddist principles, including meditation and mind training, educational and medical care for children in need, and social and mental health support programs.
The Freddy Fischer Stiftung| https://freddyfischer-stiftung.de/
This is another excellent children’s charity which was founded by Freddy Fischer, German musician and entrepreneur. Having noticed the palpable social decline and industrial overhaul of Ruhr, in northwest Germany, the former rockstar vowed to help out, as a lifelong resident of the region. Freddy set up an organisation which provides creative, sports and work-related development opportunities, in a bid to make up for the lack of professional prospects available to youth, and their families, based in the Ruhr district.
PATRIZIA KinderHaus Stiftung | https://www.patrizia.foundation/en/
This internationally-reclaimed charity has built homes, hospitals and schools around the world, in their bid to provide “lasting support” to children worldwide. In 2019 the Patrizia Foundation celebrated their 20 year anniversary, having improved the lives of thousands of children in Germany, India, Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Peru during this time.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or any other defining factor; all humans deserve the same rights and many non-profit organisations in Germany are fighting for this on behalf of those in disadvantaged or desperate situations.
UN Refugee Aid |https://www.uno-fluechtlingshilfe.de/
More than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers live in Germany as of 2020, and this non-profit was set up to provide help to individuals who need support and protection. As the German partner of the UNHCR, UN Refugee Aid fights for the rights of internally displaced individuals and families who have fled dangerous and complex crises in Europe, Asia and Africa. Through donations, this charity is able to offer improved living conditions and educational opportunities, as well as guidance and assistance with visa applications.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) | https://www.gmfus.org/
Founded almost 50 years ago, this organisation is committed to managing the close relationship between the United States and Germany, acknowledging that the US and Europe are strongest when engaged as a united front. The GMF addresses international issues of concern, from security and defense, to technology and geopolitics, with a team of experts on board to advise on areas of geopolitics and human rights.
Equal Rights Beyond Borders | https://equal-rights.org/
Advocating for refugees and asylum seekers, this charity works closely with individuals seeking protection on the islands of the Greek Aegean as well as on the Greek mainland. Local volunteers, lawyers and other human rights organisers assist with providing help on the ground, albeit food, shelter or legal aid; the non-profit's goal focuses on “successful integration and family reunification.”
Survival International | https://www.survivalinternational.de/
Another brilliant human rights organisation based in Germany is Survival International, who fight for the rights of indigenous people around the globe through partnerships, research and independent fundraising.
What happens when disaster hits? Who helps individuals recover from crises? How does emergency aid get to the people who need it? In this section we will look at a fantastic German NGO responsible for doing just these things.
Aktion Deutschland Hilft | http://www.aktion-deutschland-hilft.de/
Set up in Cologne by an association of German aid organisations, Aktion Deutschland Hilft has been committed to restoring the lives of individuals affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises since 2001. Over the last two decades, ADH has arranged relief operations for hundreds of life-changing catastrophes; most recently they have provided emergency aid to victims of the Beirut explosion, Indian and Bangaldeshi people affected by cyclone Amphan and millions of people suffering unliveable conditions during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Medicine & physical health
The quality, accessibility and practices of healthcare vastly differs from country to country, with some places better equipped to treat illnesses and ailments than others. These excellent German charities work with patients and medical professionals around the world, offering assistance in the form of resources, medicine, research and volunteers.
German Doctors | https://www.german-doctors.de/de/
This group of voluntary doctors travel from Germany to developing countries all around the world, treating diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, Malaria and other common health problems. Since the organisation was founded in 1983, German Doctors have sent more than 7,500 missionaries to countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya, India, Philippines and Sierra Leone.
FOXG1 | https://www.foxg1.info/
This non-profit focuses on discovering therapies, funding research and raising awareness of a rare gene defect called “FOXG1.” Although rare, the consequences of this genetic syndrome can drastically impact quality of life, especially for children. This charity is committed to voluntary work, fundraising for scientific projects that help support patients and their families living with FOXG1.
Chromosome11 | https://chromosome11.org/
As with FOXG1, Chromosome 11 also supports patients who are living with a rare and difficult disease, and their families. The European Chromosome 11 Network was established in 1997 and has been working tirelessly to provide assistance and resources for those who need it over the last 20 years.
Pioneers of the anthroposophic approach, Fanthromed combines scientific medicine with the knowledge of “the mind, soul and body of the human being” in order to strengthen individuals’ ability to self-heal. Based in both Switzerland and Germany, Fanthromed supports research into anthroposophical therapy, education and pharmacy, as well as network building and provision of grants for anthroposophic researchers and those in training.
Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) | https://www.dsw.org/en/
DSW advocates for a healthy and sustainable future for youth everywhere; committed to their goal of providing medical resources, economic empowerment and essential supplies to the younger generations in developing regions. The charity works closely with African partners to combat child marriage, the AIDs epidemic and unplanned pregnancies which affect millions of children and young adults across the continent. Having originally established a presence in Hannover, DSW has expanded its reach, developing EU-African relations and setting up offices in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
As the leading cause of cancer-related death in children, DKMS are on a mission to fight blood cancer, through their work with stem-cell donations, transplants and other ground-breaking treatments. The history of the organisation spans back to 1990, and for over 30 years the charity has committed to carrying out duties such as registration campaigns, donation collections, improved access to treatments as well as supporting patients and their families.
Access to a creative outlet can prove life-saving for certain people and that is exactly what artistic venture charities fight for. Whether you are sharing it with others or keeping it yourself, honing a particular art form has proven to have a huge impact on the emotional, mental and physical state of those practicing.
Freunde Bayreuth | http://freunde-bayreuth.org/vision
This charity’s vision focuses on the preservation of the iconic Bayreuth Festival Hall in central Germany. Supporters of the organisation will become members of The Friends of Bayreuth network; united by their shared love of music and creative performance, opera and a deep understanding of the benefits of music. Over the course of 72 years the organisation has raised around 140 million euros to ensure the continued existence of theatre.
Wildlife conservation, water & food supply
The transformative effects of clean water and nutritional food should never be underestimated. The charities in this section are able to offer these basic essentials to communities who require a helping hand, as well as protecting the environment and wildlife that inhabit endangered parts of the world
Neven Subotic Stiftung | https://nevensuboticstiftung.de/
This water aid non-profit is dedicated to their promise of providing clean water to those in need. Working primarily in Ethiopia, this German charity supports local communities by building fountains, sanitary facilities and other essential hygiene resources. The organisation presents regular updates and informative research through their Knowledge Blog and offers a range of options for those who wish to donate to the cause.
Frankfurt Zoology Society|https://fzs.org/en
This charity was founded in 1858 by Frankfurt citizens, inspired by a growing interest in natural history. Over the last 160 years, this wildland conservation charity has remained committed to preserving biological diversity, carrying out environmental education work and protecting wilderness areas and national parks in 18 different countries. Donations help the FZS monitor and assess wildlife, set up protected areas, educate and train park rangers, develop conservation management and establish sustainable employment opportunities for local communities.
Tafel Deutschland | http://www.tafel.de/
Since 1993 this charitable organisation has been collecting good quality surplus food, free of charge, and distributing it to socio-economically disadvantaged people around Germany. Over 60,000 volunteers help out at 950 Tafel locations across the country, serving 1.65 million individuals in need. The organisation welcomes donations of any kind; whether it be food, money or helping with a local project.
Looking out for future generations is a responsibility that these organisations take on proudly. Children and young people with different abilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds often need support whether it be educational, emotional or financial. Thanks to these German charities, no young person is left to fend for themselves without guidance or assistance.
Kindernothilfe | https://www.kindernothilfe.org/
Kindernothilfe translates to “supporting children in need” and that is exactly what this Christian organisation has been doing since its inception in 1959. Advocating for childrens’ rights, Kindernothilfe has implemented 609 projects supporting millions of young people in 32 countries from Asia to Latin America. These projects focus on providing basic education, health care, nutrition and shelter for disadvantaged communities.
Hände für Kinder | http://www.haendefuerkinder.de/
This Hamburg based charity provides short-term accommodation for disabled children and young people, and their families. Building a community that offers reliable and understanding support of differently abled individuals is at the heart of this organisation, with a focus on the Christian faith. There are many ways to help this charity; from one-off donations to endowments or donations in kind.
Environment & climate
Due to the continued increase of greenhouse gases, changes to the environment and climate currently show no sign of slowing down. These environmentally focused charities are fiercely advocating for policy-makers and global corporations to stand up and take accountability for global warming, rising sea levels and the destruction of giant glaciers, all of which will massively impact the future of planet Earth
GermanZero | http://www.haendefuerkinder.de/
Committed to their role as Climate Savers, GermanZero represents the nation on a global scale as it fights for a climate-neutral future. Financed exclusively through donations which help to fund studies, workshops and a team of full-time volunteers, GermanZero are dedicated to advocating for greenhouse gas neutrality, with a scientifically sound catalogue of applicable measures for the five largest emission-generating sectors in Germany: energy, industry, transport, buildings / heating and agriculture. Find out more on their website.
Together for Future | https://togetherforfuture.org/
This well-organised climate protection NGO is fighting for a “liveable, fair and future-proof world.” Based in Berlin, this charity campaigns for lowering global emissions by 7.6% annually, in order to see a difference in global warming by 2050. Projects include Future Alliance, a network of our 30 groups; Engage Lab, an interdisciplinary team of experts that carry out digital climate campaigns; and Swarm for Future, made up of parents, entrepreneurs and many other for-future groups who are now “swarming” to their members of the Bundestag across Germany to raise awareness of Together for Future’s work.
Active Philanthropy | https://www.activephilanthropy.org/
The final non-profit on our list of the Top 35 Charities in Germany is Active Philanthropy, a Berlin-based organisation tackling climate change. This NGO approaches the subject from different standpoints, identifying how nature, health and children will all be detrimentally affected by the climate crisis. Supporters can follow the work of this organisation by subscribing to their newsletter, follow their work on social media and reading their numerous online resources including their Funding their Future guide, available in German, English and French.
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Choosing the best charities in Germany
There are thousands of charities and not-for-profit foundations in Germany, and picking the best of the bunch was no easy feat. We wanted to ensure we had selected the organisations making a real difference, and we did this by considering the following criteria:
Transparency: The more transparent a charity is, the better. Donors, sponsors and partners often want to know about projects, research and events designed to raise the profile and effectiveness of the organisation.
Effectiveness: How this is defined will be largely dependent on the charity’s but generally, any foundation producing desired results, whether it be for fundraising, conducting research or studies, or maximum outreach, builds confidence in their effectiveness
Commitment: We took into consideration the dedication and responsibility demonstrated by each NGO on this list.