Local soccer club or Unicef – Who do you support? 

Thriftiness is deeply entrenched in the German culture. Privately (and on state level, too), many people keep a nest egg in the bank or at home – you just never know when your washing machine has done its final load or if your car lets you down on your way to Tuscany. This German habit of saving money is often criticized internationally with regard to the world economy, and it has birthed the exhibition “Saving – History of a Germany Virtue” at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. But even though Germans like to keep their money close, there is one area they are continuously generous in, and that is donating.

According to Statista’s Bilanz des Helfens 2018 (“Balance of Help 2018”), around 21 million people in Germany donated 5.2 billion euros last year. This is the third-highest result since the Deutscher Spendenrat (German Donation Association) has started to keep records in 1993. 78 percent of those donations were allocated to humanitarian causes. Traditionally, the biggest month for donations is December – in 2017, a little more than 1 billion euros was donated. But it’s not just individuals who are big on giving and social commitment; the retail sector is, too, according to a study conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2016. More than 70 percent of the surveyed retailers are actively supporting their cities through donations, sponsoring, events and institutions. Every retailer invests on average between 1,400 – 1,900 euros every year, says the report, which makes them critical local financiers.

But despite those impressive figures, I wonder: How do you decide which organization you or your company supports financially, with your time or your goods and services? By which criteria do you make your decision? And what motivates you to pledge your support in the first place? Based on my observations, two primary motives push people to donate – and they couldn’t be more opposing: short-term prestige and advantageous PR vs. offering long-term possibilities and strengthening the local community (regardless of personal or commercial benefits for the donors). So, let me ask you: Do you remember your last donation? What motivated you to do it, and have you followed up with your chosen charity or cause? Where are they up to right now?