Civic Engagement Requires Leadership
Civil Society

Civic Engagement Requires Leadership

Initiatives to find and train candidates to serve on volunteer group boards
Associations are the most important type of organization for volunteer work. Close to one in two persons in Germany is a member of an association. The number of dedicated members who act as association leaders, however, is declining steadily. Many associations are finding it increasingly difficult to fill volunteer board positions when they become vacant. This is often due to the image of board work as boring and old-fashioned, but it is also because of many associations’ lack of openness toward fresh ideas from the outside and more contemporary organizational structures.

Between 2011 and 2013, the Robert Bosch Stiftung worked on these challenges in a model program entitled “Civic Engagement Requires Leadership,” which it carried out in cooperation with the Bavarian state network for civic involvement (LBE) and in collaboration with three volunteer agencies in Bremen, Halle (Saale), and Mülheim (Ruhr). Activities included training for current association board members, a platform to discuss ideas and experiences, assistance in organizational development, and finding and preparing potential board members to fill vacant positions.

The continuation of the “Civic Engagement Requires Leadership” program between 2014 and 2016 focuses on supporting people on association boards as well as finding and training new board members to fill vacant positions. In this context, the focus is on improving the structures and processes of work carried out primarily on a volunteer basis by associations centered on the common good. In order to widely communicate this approach and make it a fixed part of state civic engagement policy, the foundation is striving to establish a collaboration with networks at the state level in the three German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. The goal is for the aforementioned activities to improve association boards to become a permanent part of the networks’ duties at the state level so that they are continued even after the end of the foundation’s program.


Dr. Thomas Röbke  Engagement braucht Leadership  Read and recommend


Aline Liebenberg
Phone: +49 (0)911 81 01 29 16

Contact at the Foundation

Dr. Ferdinand Mirbach
Phone +49 (0)711 460 84 48
Judith Völkl
Phone +49 (0)711 460 84 118