Many young people in Germany are choosing to do something for the good of society in their free time. There are countless opportunities and lots of people taking part. In 2014 half of all 12-to-19-year-olds said that they do something for others on an unpaid and charitable basis. This also fits with the values that are important to young people and are part of their personal lifestyles. For example, 60 percent comment: “It is important to me to help those who are socially disadvantaged.” For 32 percent, political involvement is a high priority, as the Shell Youth Study 2015 shows. The figure is almost a tenth more than in the year 2010 and shows that interest in politics is on the rise again.
Sports, the church, culture, and the rescue services are among the most common fields chosen by those who want to make a difference. Environment, animal protection, and conservation are likewise very popular. Many young people are active in new social movements – fighting to give globalisation a just side and warning against the negative social, economic, and environmental consequences of global capitalism. Overall, many are committed to issues that take an international perspective and aim to create a better world. They find direction in non-governmental organisations like Amnesty International, Greenpeace, foodwatch, or Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND). Incidentally, 66 percent of young people also believe it is important to be environmentally aware. The youth wings of political parties, trade unions, and the churches offer no end of possibilities for getting involved. It appears, however, that young people often find traditional organisations not spontaneous enough or too rigid.
Ever since military service was abolished in Germany, volunteer assignments with a posting abroad are becoming increasingly attractive. Examples include the state-financed programme “kulturweit” run by the German UNESCO Commission or the “weltwärts” developmental volunteer service.