Every year, our friend and economist Dr. Angela Ullrich analyses the German philanthropy market exclusively for the betterplace lab. She brings the numbers into line and answers the following questions:

  • How much is being donated?

  • Who is donating?

  • Where are the donations going?

  • Why are people donating?


Current: The 2016 Philanthropy Market.

It is always difficult to find reliable and comparable figures on the German philanthropy market. Even now, there are no official statistics on philanthropy. You have to rely on the few publicly available survey results as well as the details from income tax statistics, which always come with a time lag. The biggest information haul is provided by the evaluation of the GfK Charity Scope for the German Donations Council, which has just been presented for the year 2015 as the „Balance of Support 2016“ We have now punched in these fresh figures along with the other updated facts and data in our philanthropy market presentation, and with this, can give you an overview of the most important developments.


Private donations have continued to increase in 2015. The GfK has calculated a very dynamic level of growth of almost 12%, which can be explained by factors such as the earthquake in Nepal and refugee aid. We estimate the overall volume of private donations in 2015 to be 8.3 billion Euros. This prognosis is based on the figures from income tax statistics and is calculated from the recording of the percentage of growth in the past for the years 2012 to 2015, for which there are still no official figures.

More people are donating more regularly and in bigger sums, especially for humanitarian causes

In 2015, in comparison to the previous year, the number of people making donations increased by approximately 300,000. Of this, at 37 Euros, the average donation amount was 1 Euro higher than in 2014, which compared to long-term data is a new record. On top of this, 6.6 donations were made per person, while in the previous year it was only 6.2. All together, this explains the corresponding increase in overall donations. New engagement has above all come about in the area of emergency and disaster aid. This is where the fastest gains in donations took place, brought about by new donors and higher contributions from existing donors. In all income groups, more was donated, and the increase amongst high earners of over 500,000 Euros in annual income was disproportionately high.

Significant engagement for refugees

A special survey by the GfK showed that almost every second German citizen over 10 years of age had been active in the cause for refugees – that is around 32 million people. Of this however, at 8%, money donations have played a relatively minor role. But 34% have donated material goods. In addition, approximately 2 million people donated their time for refugee assistance. In this area, it is above all those over sixty who have got involved.


Background to the annual betterplace lab philanthropy market analysis

With our philanthropy market analysis, money donations from individuals take centre stage. A large part of social engagement in Germany is financed by private donations. The proportion of the the overall budget of the approximately 620,000 registered non-profit organisations coming from donations comprises around 20 per cent. For unregistered social initiatives, cash donations may play an even greater role in their financing. Above all, the many small organisations that are not supported by public funds and which generate little or no funds themselves compete with each other for funders and sponsors.

A fundamental understanding of the traditional offline philanthropy market is an important prerequisite for any analyses relating to the social sector. It is possible to make inferences about the financial magnitude of the sector from the volume of the philanthropy market; and from the distribution of that volume, important information on the structural situation can then be gathered. How does this market work? How big is it, and how has it developed over time? What does the market structure look like?

Despite the patchy state of the data, all these questions can be at least provisionally answered by combining and evaluating the findings of the diverse surveys, studies and analyses related to the philanthropy market. You can find the philanthropy market analyses from previous years on our slide-share channel (can’t find it? get in touch with us!).