Why are we running this project?

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.

What are our goals?

Aim of this program was it to train persons who are already in charge of different associations or to find new people who would be willing to work with this kind of organisations.

How does the project work?

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.

2016 focused on supporting people on association boards as well as finding and training new board members to fill vacant positions. In this context, the focus was 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 established a collaboration with networks at the state level in the three German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. The goal was for the aforementioned activities to improve association boards to become a permanent part of the networks’ duties at the state level.

The foundation’s program ended in spring 2017.