Organizational chart: Organizational chart of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

Civil society in Germany is diverse – as diverse as all the opportunities people have for getting involved. It consists of 616,000 nonprofits, foundations and community groups – meaning sports clubs, cultural centers, daycare facilities, fire departments, self-help initiatives, nursing homes, faith communities, environmental organizations and professional associations, to name only a few. Together, these organizations employ 2.3 million people and give 17.5 million volunteers the chance to make a difference. German civil society today is impressive in its size, diversity and growth, not to mention the expertise it offers and the contributions it makes to the common good. It is a service provider, a place for creativity and public engagement – and an important economic factor. In short, it’s the glue that holds society. Germany faces a range of daunting challenges, which means it will need to make use of every resource at its disposal. It will have to innovate and commit the appropriate financial resources. Throughout the country, it will require pitching in and embracing new ideas, not to mention being empathic and showing solidarity with the weaker members of society. People in Germany must also develop a common understanding of the responsibilities they will have to shoulder in the future, an understanding that is shared, and shaped, by government, civil society and the business community. The country will never be able to solve its problems if everyone goes it alone; everyone needs to work together instead. We envision a civil society that includes people of all ages and backgrounds, one that is transparent, competent, open to long-term cooperative partnerships and willing to work with others at home and abroad. The civil society we envision is the subject of extensive research, and its services are well known to the public and to opinion leaders. It is supported by policymakers and public administrators, who ensure the background conditions are in place that allow it to work effectively. This is the civil society that, together with our partners, we are working to create.