European Research Network on Philanthropy

Institutional members

Heidelberg Universitycsi logo

Centre for Social Investment
website:  Centre for Social Investment

Helmut Anheier
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: helmut.anheier@

Nicole Bögelein
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: nicole.boegelein@

Martin Hölz
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: martin.hoelz@

Georg Mildenberger
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: georg.mildenberger@

Clemens Striebing 
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: clemens.striebing@

Ekkehard Thumler
Heidelberg University
Centre for Social Investment
email: ekkehard.thuemler@

University of Hamburghamburg university

School of Economics and Social Sciences
website: School of Economics and Social Sciences

Silke Boenigk
University of Hamburg
School of Economics and Social Sciences
email: Silke.Boenigk@

Marius Mews
University of Hamburg
School of Economics and Social Sciences
email: marius.mews@

Individual members

Ann-Kathrin Seemann
University of Freiburg
email: ann-kathrin.seemann@

Friedrich Heinemann
Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)
Department of Corporate Taxation and Public Finance
email: heinemann@

Burkhard Wilke
Deutsches Zentral Institut für soziale Fragen (DZI)
email: wilke@

Current research projects on philanthropy in Germany
A new study into Charitable Giving and Fundraising in a Tax Regime has been started by Dr. Friedrich Heinemann and Sarah Borgloh of ZEW and Prof. Berthold U. Wigger of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The study has been commissioned by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Bonn.
On the market for charitable contributions three types of actors may be distinguished: First, donors make voluntary contributions to certain charitable causes. Second, charities provide collective goods which are financed by those contributions and at the same time charities influence giving behaviour by their fundraising activities. Third, the state is financially relieved by the private provision of collective goods and may foster charitable contributions through tax incentives.This project aims at exploring the interactions between these three actors in the setting of an extensive tax regime both theoretically and empirically. From a theoretical point of view, the focus is on the interaction between charities and benefactors. While donors have an interest in their contributions being completely used for the provision of the respective good, charities are likely to use a substantial amount of their revenues for fundraising activities. These diverging interests lead to strategic implications which impact the effects of tax incentives for donations. Empirically, the project is designed to evaluate the interaction of charities and donors within the framework of tax incentives with German data because there is a strong preoccupation of the literature with US data. There are only few empirical studies for countries like Germany, where social, cultural, scientific or religious public goods are financed mainly by taxes and contributions.
More information on current research projects on philanthropy in Germany will follow in the near future.

Research data
Who donates how much, for what purpose, and why? Germany does not yet have a central institution which could provide comprehensive information on the donation activities of the German population. The knowledge about financial and material donations (in contrast to time donations) is generally lacking, although for some years now several studies on this subject have been produced. Frequently, however, these studies are limited to exploring only single aspects and special forms of donation behaviour or certain data on donation volume.
Within the framework of the project “Donations and their Collection in Germany” Priller and Sommerfeld tested and analyzed all data sources obtainable on individual donations from the population. Moreover, they developed a concept for a donation report for Germany (including other kinds of donations like donations from enterprises and legacies). According to Priller/Sommerfeld, information on citizens’ donation activities can be gathered from three different sources: official statistics, data from charities and donors – via documentation centers and commercial polls, and indications based on other sources and approaches. The above-mentioned project could function as the starting point for “Giving Germany”.



Federal Statistical Office
Continuous Household Budget Surveys and Sample Survey of Income and Expenditure
Within the framework of its household budget surveys, the Federal Statistical Office collects data on income and expenditure, housing conditions, and the possession of durable consumer goods. The Continuous Household Budget Surveys (LWR) annually recorded 6,000 households from 1999 – 2004, and since 2005 the number of households recorded has been 8,000. Households with a monthlynet household income of 18,000 euros and over are not included. The Sample Survey of Income and Expenditure (EVS) is conducted once in five years and collects data on the same subjects from 60,000 households.
These household budget surveys also supply information on donations, showing the amounts of donations and membership fees which go to nonprofit organizations. According to the LWR, 4.4 billion euros were donated to nonprofit organizations, and 6.7 billion euros were spent on membership fees in 2005.

Tax records from the Federal Statistical Office
The Federal Statistical Office has provided specific information on charitable giving by households in Germany since 2001. In 2005, German households deducted a total of 3.1 billion euros from taxes, not taking into account households with a monthly net household income exceeding the ceiling.

Commercial poll data from TNS Infratest
For thirteen years now, TNS Infratest (Taylor Nelson Sofres Polling) has been conducting a monitoring study on household spending, including some questions on charitable giving by individuals. Within this study, 4,000 individuals are asked annually to answer questions concerning their financial expenditures. According to the results, it is estimated that the Germans donated 2.8 billion euros to charitable organizations in 2007.

Commercial poll data from GFK Panel Services Deutschland
GFK compiles the “Charity Scope”, a commercial product developed for nonprofit organizations in Germany. The Charity Scope is based on a survey of 10,000 households, using monthly questionnaires. Based on these. it is estimated that German households donated 2.8 billion euros to charitable organizations in 2004/5.

The Donations Almanac issued by the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI)
The annually published Donations Almanac contains data on 236 charitable organizations in Germany. These data show that the organizations in question received a total of 1.4 billion euros in 2008. It can thus be estimated in 2008 the sum collected by all the social charitable organizations in Germany amounted to 2,45 billion euros. The estimations on the overall annual donation amount in Germany are between 3 and 5 billion euros.”

The DZI study “Evaluation of the new German Donation and Public Benefit Law”
In Summer 2009 the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) will complete a study on the impacts and outcomes of the new German Donation and Public Benefit Law which has been confirmed by the German Parliament in September 2007 and put into practice – backwards – by 1st January 2007. The study has been commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Finance. The study could provide substantial information to be used in a first German Donation Report.

Source: Wiepking, P. (Ed.) The State of Giving Research in Europe. Household donations to Charitable Organizations in Twelve Countries. Pallas Publications: Amsterdam, the Netherlands. order here.

Borgloh, Sarah (2008), What Drives Giving in Extensive Welfare States? The Case of Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 08-123, Mannheim.

Meulemann, Heiner and Tilo Beckers. (2004). Das sichtbare und das verborgene Engagement. Häufigkeiten und Hintergründe von Ehrenamt und privater Hilfe in Deutschland im Jahre 2002. In: Soziale Welt 55, S. 51-74.

Meulemann, Heiner and Tilo Beckers. (2004). Ehren in unterschiedlichen Ämtern: Der Einfluss von Ressourcen und Einstellungen auf die Übernahme eines Ehrenamts in Dienstleistungs- und Wohlfahrtsvereinen in Deutschland im Jahre 2002. In: Bayer, Michael / Petermann, Sören (Hg.): Soziale Struktur und wissenschaftliche Praxis im Wandel. Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Heinz Sahner. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden.

Meulemann, H., & Beckers, T. (2003). Hat die Flut vom August 2002 die Spendenaktivität gesteigert? Ein vergleich der Häufigkeit und der Hintergründe habitueller und Spontaner Spenden. ZA-Information, 52: 37-57.

Priller, E. & Sommerfeld, J. (2005). Wer spendet in Deutschland? Eine sozialstrukturelle Analyse. Discussion Paper. Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB).

Priller, E. & Sommerfeld, J. (2009) (eds.): Spenden in Deutschland – Analysen, Konzepte, Perspektiven. LitVerlag (forthcoming).