Joint Programming Initiative

More Years, Better Lives

The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change

German Survey on Volunteering (FWS)
Deutscher Freiwilligensurvey (FWS)

Social, Civic and Cultural Engagement
Relevance for this Topic
Country Germany
More Topics


Contact information

Dr. Julia Simonson/ Deutsches Zentrum für Altersfragen (DZA)
Deutsches Zentrum für Altersfragen (DZA)
Manfred-v.-Richthofen-Str. 2
12101 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 - 260740-0
Fax: +49 (0)30 – 7854350
Email: freiwilligensurvey(at)

Timeliness, transparency

The project report is available about 1 year following data collection and data sets are available 2 years after data collection.

Type of data


Type of Study

Cross-section, regular

Data gathering method

Telephone interview (CATI)

Access to data

Data 1999, 2004, 2009: access via GESIS Data Archive, Soon access will possible via Research Data Centre at (starting in spring 2013).

Conditions of access

Data and documents are only released for academic research following the data depositor’s written authorisation. For this purpose, the Data Archive obtains written permission with specification of the user and the purpose of analysis.

about 1 weeks

anonymised microdata

SPSS, STATA (planned)

Data is available in German only.


Wave 1: Data collected in 1999 with a sample size of 14,922 individuals. Wave 2: Data collected in 2004 with a sample size of 15,000 individuals. Wave 3: Data collected in 2009 with a sample size of 20,005 individuals. Wave 4: Data collection is planned for 2014.


stratified by federal states (NUTS1)

Random digit dialling (RDD)

NUTS1 (federal states)

14 years and older

Federal states (NUTS1)

Detailed study on social, civic and cultural engagement and volunteering. The German Survey on Volunteering (FWS) is a representative survey on volunteer work, honorary office and civic engagement of the German population aged 14 and older. The FWS provides a substantial database for the description of volunteering in Germany and allows detailed reporting on participation among population groups and across regions. It is the basic instrument for social accounting on volunteering in Germany.

• Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Eds.). Zivilgesellschaft, soziales Kapital und freiwilliges Engagement in Deutschland 1999 – 2004 – 2009. Hauptbericht des Freiwilligensurveys 2009. Ergebnisse der repräsentativen Trenderhebung zu Ehrenamt, Freiwilligenarbeit und Bürgerschaftlichem Engagement. Berlin: Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, 2010. • Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Eds.). Monitor Voluntary Activities. Volunteering in Germany 1999 – 2004 – 2009. Results of the Representative Survey on Volunteering and Civic Engagement. Berlin, 2010: Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend.,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf


No standards until wave 2009; wave 2014 still in preparation.

No linkage possible

Data quality

Some implausibilities at the moment. Data set is edited and will be released in an updated version at the Research Data Centre FDZ-DZA.

Change of responsible research institute in 2011 to proceed with wave 4 (planned for 2014).

No major changes


The FWS is focused on a variety of volunteering issues associated with institutions such as associations, organisations, churches and others. Some informal volunteering activities are omitted (such as neighbourhood assistance). There are only a few correlates to analyse relations to other factors of the living situation (items on e.g. health status are lacking). The data set is easily available from GESIS at present and soon from the Research Data Centre FDZ-DZA. By transferring the data set to the Research Data Centre FDZ-DZA, handling of the data set and consulting will become even more convenient. So far, the data set is only available in German, which is a disadvantage for its dissemination. At present, it takes about two years after field time to publish the current data set. The FWS is the only survey with an exclusive focus on volunteering and it provides a large number of cases (about 25,000 cases planned for 2014). Further data sets on volunteering (but only with some items on this topic): Cross-sectional data: German Ageing Survey, German Socio-Economic Panel, German Time Budget Survey, Longitudinal data: German Ageing Survey, German Socio-Economic Panel

  • The information about this dataset was compiled by the author:
  • Andreas Motel-Klingebiel
  • (see Partners)