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Volunteering - Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you will find a compilation of questions that are frequently asked in connection with civic engagement.

  • Do I have to pay tax on cash benefits from volunteering?

    In principle, all benefits in money or money's worth that the volunteer receives are subject to income tax. The state also supports civic engagement in financial terms. Section 3 of the German Income Tax Act (EStG) governs tax-exempt benefits.

    Income from part-time activities as an exercise leader, instructor, educator, caregiver or a comparable activity, from part-time artistic activities or part-time care of the elderly, sick or disabled will remain tax-free up to 3,000 euros per year with effect from 2021 if the activity is carried out on behalf of or in the service of the public sector or for charitable, benevolent or ecclesiastical purposes (so-called lump sum for exercise leaders - Section 3 No. 26 of the Income Tax Act).

    For income from other voluntary work in the non-profit, charitable or church sector, a tax-free lump sum of a maximum of 840 euros per year can be claimed (so-called honorary work lump sum - Section 3 No. 26a Income Tax Act). The latter is only possible if no other tax exemption has yet been claimed for this income.

    It is recommended to clarify the tax liability of a volunteer on an individual basis. One possibility would be to contact the responsible tax office.

    The Lower Saxony Ministry of Finance has issued a statement on the subject of honorary office on some income tax issues. The article can be viewed at www.freiwilligenserver.de, under Infoservice, Steuertipps.

  • Who can volunteer?

    People of all ages can get involved in a wide range of activities, help shape the future and contribute their skills and expertise. Young people, young adults, adults, seniors - commitment connects and is open to everyone.

    Whether in church institutions, in environmental organizations, in sports and cultural associations, in welfare organizations, in the preservation of local history and customs, in health care, in civil defense and disaster control, in child and youth welfare, in the support of migrant people or in citizens' initiatives.

    Whether in permanent activity, in a temporary project or as a one-time support... the opportunities and forms of involvement in Wolfsburg are as diverse as the people themselves.

  • Do I have to meet certain requirements?

    Some jobs require special skills, e.g. knowledge of foreign languages or manual skills. Sometimes the required skills must also be proven - for example, a driver's license or training as an exercise instructor.

    Only the institution looking for volunteers can determine which prerequisite is required for which activity.

    Certificate of good conduct in honorary office

    Certificates of good conduct that are required for a voluntary activity in a non-profit or comparable institution are generally free of charge. In addition, fees are also waived if volunteers receive an expense allowance for their activities. The amount of the expense allowance is irrelevant.

    The waiver of fees is particularly important for volunteers in children's and youth work, who often have to submit a so-called "extended" certificate of good conduct before starting their activities.

    The German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring) has compiled a working aid for those responsible for youth association work on the subject of certificates of good conduct for volunteers in accordance with the Federal Child Protection Act.

  • How do I find a commitment that suits me?

    There are many attractive opportunities to volunteer in Wolfsburg. You can get an insight into the variety and range of voluntary commitment

    Lettering "Children and young people - 25 percent of volunteers are involved in this area

    when looking at the list of exhibitors at the Wolfsburg Volunteer Exchange. The offers are still up to date.

    Take the opportunity to contact people in your area who are already involved and may be looking for further support.

    A few considerations in advance can help you find a suitable volunteering opportunity. The clearer the agreements are between you and the organization in question, the lower the risk of being disappointed in your subsequent work. Here you will find our checklist with questions that can help you in your search for a suitable volunteer position.

  • Can I volunteer if I am unemployed?

    In principle, commitment and benefits under the Employment Promotion Act (AFG) are not mutually exclusive, as long as the volunteer work is not a disguised gainful activity and the work can be terminated at any time. It is important that the voluntary work does not hinder professional integration.

    If you want to volunteer, it is advisable to discuss the activity, amount of time and compensation for expenses with the case manager at the job center beforehand.

    According to the "Ordinance on Voluntary Activities of the Unemployed", an activity is considered to be voluntary if it is carried out free of charge, serves the common good and is carried out by an organization that performs tasks that are in the public interest or promote charitable, benevolent or ecclesiastical purposes without the intention of making a profit.

    An activity is also considered to be unpaid if expenses are reimbursed. The reimbursement of expenses may take the form of a lump sum - i.e. without individual proof. However, such a lump sum may not exceed €200 per month. A higher reimbursement of expenses is possible if the expenses are proven individually. This limit is only the criterion for judging whether it is actually a voluntary activity. It is not an exemption limit for offsetting against the benefit from the employment agency/job center.

    A voluntary activity of at least 15 hours per week must be reported to the employment agency/job center without delay.

  • Are travel expenses to the volunteer assignment site reimbursed?

    Travel expenses

    Reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with volunteer work is the responsibility of the organization for which the volunteer work is performed.

    The type and scope of reimbursement depends on the financial possibilities of the organization and therefore varies greatly. Reimbursements are not possible in every case. It is important to clarify possible benefits from the sponsor before taking up voluntary work in order to avoid unnecessary disappointment.

    The payment of expense allowances is also agreed upon individually between the volunteer and the respective sponsoring organization. There are areas in which the payment of expense allowances has become a matter of course and is also based on clear legal regulations (e.g. the payment of the lump-sum allowance for exercise leaders in the sports sector). In other areas, there are no or very different regulations.

    Expense allowances are also frequently paid in projects aimed at establishing volunteer services that are open to all generations or cross-generational.

  • Is there accident and liability insurance coverage in volunteer fields of activity?

    Larger organizations and associations usually also take out liability and accident insurance for their volunteers or register them with the relevant employers' liability insurance association.

    For volunteers who are neither insured through the institution/association nor have made private provision, the state of Lower Saxony has concluded framework agreements with the Hannover Insurance Group (VGH) on subordinate accident and liability insurance coverage. Information on insurance cover for honorary office and on VGH's framework agreements can be found at www.freiwilligenserver.de.

    In any case, it is important to clarify which insurance benefits can be claimed in case of need and who the specific contact person is in the event of a claim before taking up volunteer work.

  • Should I sign a written contract with the facility for the activity?

    In principle, honorary activities do not require a written agreement. However, written agreements are also possible to illustrate agreed contents. The engagement partners - institution and volunteer - should jointly agree on which form of agreement should apply.

    The situation is different for voluntary services (FSJ/FÖJ and BFD), which require a written agreement before the start of the activity.

  • Can I end a volunteer position at any time?

    A voluntary activity is based on absolute voluntariness and can therefore be terminated at any time. This circumstance is very significant for the unemployed, for example, since voluntary activities must not hinder the taking up of regular employment.

    Something else can apply to voluntary services. Here, the contractual regulations must be observed. In general, it is recommended that volunteers and assignment sites agree on a certain level of commitment in order to be able to plan and implement activities and projects in a meaningful way.

  • How do I balance work and commitment?

    For volunteers from certain areas, the law provides for entitlements to time off work.

    Lettering "27 percent of employees who also perform voluntary work"


    People who work voluntarily in youth work in Lower Saxony and hold the Youth Group Leader Card (JULEICA) or would like to qualify for the JULEICA are entitled to a maximum of 12 working days per calendar year distributed over a maximum of three events. However, the continued payment of remuneration is at the discretion of the employer here, which is why it is not possible to speak of "special leave" as a general rule. Details can be found in the "Law on Leave of Absence from Work for the Purposes of Youth Care and Youth Sports".

    Voluntary work in disaster control and fire departments is exempt from work with pay. Upon application, the employer can have the costs incurred reimbursed from public funds. Details can be found in the "Lower Saxony Disaster Protection Act" and the "Lower Saxony Fire Protection and Assistance Act".

    Employees are also released from work for legally regulated honorary offices as a juror or judge. Loss of earnings is not borne by the employer but is reimbursed by the court on application. Regulations on this can be found in the "German Judges Act", Part One, Section Six and in the "Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act", Section Four.

  • Are there opportunities for further training?

    Many volunteer centers and institutions train their volunteers themselves and allow their volunteers to take part in continuing education programs. In addition, the Lower Saxony Volunteer Academy and Wolfsburg's educational institutions, such as the Wolfsburg Adult Education Center (VHS), the Protestant Family Education Center (Fabi) and the Protestant Adult Education Center (EEB), offer numerous support and qualification opportunities.

    Information on the educational institutions and the qualification and further training opportunities can be found under the corresponding tabs at www.wolfsburg.de/engagiert.

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