Development of the nonprofit sector in Germany
The terms “community service” or “nonprofit” are used to designate the sector of society that is neither governmental nor profit-oriented. From sports clubs, charities, relief organizations, parental initiatives or civic organizations – nonprofit organizations have a major influence on the daily life of almost all citizens. Many services in the areas of health, social work, education, sports, art, culture and environmental protection can only be provided and maintained through volunteer work. The participation of citizens in solving social problems also promotes the cohesion of a plural society. The nonprofit sector in Germany has been marked in recent years by both rapid growth and fundamental change. These developments have a decisive influence on the overall social and economic structure.
The actual value and significance of the nonprofit sector in Germany is largely unknown. The empirical data on the economic, job market and sociopolitical significance of the German nonprofit sector, as well as the internal structure, have not been updated in 11 years. Efforts for improving the general political, financial and structural conditions in the nonprofit sector are therefore based on outdated data and unsupported assumptions.
The goals of the project
The project entitled “Placing Civil Society on the Economic Map” collects the previously lacking data in a systematic and timely manner and thereby provides a differentiated picture of the current situation. Future changes and developments will be taken into account through continuous collection of data.
The project will
- Create structures and processes with which continuous collection of updated basic data for the nonprofit sector will be ensured in the future.
- Enable comparisons between federal states based on the numbers collected.
- Communicate the data to the general public.
- Develop prospects for the future in dialog with policy makers, scientific institutions and stakeholders in civil society.
Methodological principles and approach
The project is based on the internationally recognized collection methods found in the UN Handbook on Non-Profit Institutions in the System of National Accounts, which are already in use in many countries. “Placing Civil Society on the Economic Map” makes these collection methods applicable in Germany as well. Among other things, the project will combine data already available from the German Federal Statistical Office, the statistical offices of the federal states, and other organizations from the nonprofit sector. This data has previously not been sufficiently processed. This will simultaneously lay the foundation for a satellite calculation that is to be established over the medium term as part of the official statistics. The data still lacking for a holistic survey of the sector will be gathered through field research.
The results for society
Based on the continuous collection of data and communication of the results, the services the nonprofit sector provides and the impact these services have on our society and economy will be made visible. The factors that promote or hinder the development of this sector will be identified, along with the actions that should be initiated in order to strengthen this sector. The project also establishes a basis for nonprofit organizations to be better able to act in their organization’s interests.