As the most populous country in Europe, with over 80 million residents, it is hardly surprising that there are notable, regional variances in the social and sustainable sectors across Germany. Unlike many other European countries, Germany’s size, along with its unique recent history, has led to its political, social, financial, and cultural centres being dispersed around different cities and areas.
In this section, we provide you with a brief overview of the regional trends in the impact sector to help you figure out whether you should be Berlin-bound, making the move to Munich, or, heading for Hamburg.
*While here we provide an insight into the main hubs of activity, it is important to remember that you can find charitable organizations and foundations doing world-changing work in almost every town and village in Germany.
As Germany’s capital, and, home to tbd* :), this city is a mecca for passionate and curious changemakers.
After the fall of the Berlin wall, low rents, and, a culture of innovation, diversity, and creativity blossomed. The social impact and sustainability scenes in Berlin have grown rapidly over the past decade.
Today Berlin is home to regular impact events at locations such as the Social Impact Lab and Impact Hub, a growing Tech for Good scene, plenty of green jobs, plus hundreds of social businesses working on the most pressing issues of our time.
Berlin is also Germany’s political centre, with the Federal parliament and the majority of national ministries located in the city. As a hub of decision-making power, Berlin is therefore where many important economic institutions and alliances, as well as umbrella organizations for German business and industry operate.
The rise of social entrepreneurship in Germany in recent years led to the creation of SEND (the Social Enterprise Network Deutschland) in 2017. The organization aims to give a voice to German social entrepreneurs through networking, workshops and events. SEND is headquartered in Berlin, but has regional groups nationwide.
While this northern city is maybe best known for its bustling port, Hamburgs’ Cosmopolitanism is also reflected in its broad range of international organizations and companies. There is Greenpeace, UNESCO Institute for Life Long Learning, Plan Deutschland, Dialogue Social Enterprise, LemonAid and Viva con Agua… just to name a few.
Thus, Hamburg has a vibrant sustainability scene. To get a first impression of what Social Entrepreneurship looks like in Hamburg you can visit events like “Moin & Machen” of the Changestarters Hamburg Communitywhich runs a networking event on a monthly basis. Then there is the N-Klub, which gives a stage to a range of changemakers. However, it is quite exclusive since you need an invitation to attend.
A regional group of the SEND association (Social Entrepreneurship Network of Germany) will be established in 2019. Visit SEND for more information about the organization that strives to act as an agent within the social impact sector on a political level.
Furthermore, if you are interested in working on your impact idea you’ll find a Social Impact Lab close to the “Michel”, one of Hamburgs’ most famous landmarks. The Mindspace and betahaus are Co-Working Spaces where you can also find like-minded people that might be working on a new social startup.
Although most commonly thought of as the financial capital of Germany, Frankfurt also hosts many organisations which put purpose before profit.
The main office of GIZ, one of Germany’s largest organizations working on international cooperation for sustainable development is based in Eschborn in the outskirts of Frankfurt.
Check out this guide to NGO jobs in Frankfurt for more information on the organizations leading the charge in the area.
The impact scene in the Bavarian capital has expanded rapidly in the past few years. One important hub of sustainability and social impact work in Munich is located on ‘Praterinsel’. This beautiful island nestled in the city centre is home to many social businesses and charities doing world-changing world
including Ashoka, ROCK YOUR COMPANY, Joblinge, EDUCATION Y and Kiron.
Away from Praterinsel, both Impact Hub and Social Impact Lab also have a presence in Munich.
One of the main offices of the BMW Foundation is also located in Munich.
Here you’ll find more information about the top organizations working on social impact and sustainability in Munich.
Having been the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990, Bonn is today still an important centre for political and international development work. A number of federal ministries (such the Ministry for International Cooperation and the Ministry for the Environment), are still located in the city, meaning that many key organisations working in these areas are also based there.
Perhaps most notably, a UN Campus was opened in Bonn in 2006 and was expanded in 2013 so that it now acts as seat to a total of 18 organizations of the United Nations including the UNFCCC (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the UNV (the UN Volunteers program).
This article provides a more comprehensive list of Bonn-based impact organisations.
The social impact and sustainability scene in this Western city has flourished in recent years. Ehrenfeld is the district in which you’ll find the most action in these areas, with many social businesses, (like Armed Angels) and community initiatives (such as Allerweltshaus) based there.
Colabor, a co-working space and hub for those committed to social and sustainable change which was founded in 2012, is also located in Ehrenfeld. They run regular events to bring together local NGOs, companies and freelancers working for positive change.
You’ll find more information on the organisations doing world-changing work in Cologne here.