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Volunteer allowance: everything you need to know in 2024

Volunteering is the backbone of our democracy! It creates a bond of togetherness that unites our society and makes it stronger“, said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law. This illustrates why volunteers are indispensable to our society. However, just because the work is unpaid does not mean that volunteers cannot receive financial compensation. Among other things, there is the honorary allowance, an expense allowance for voluntary work.

Here we explain what it is, how it works and what else you should know.

    1. Definition: What is the honorary allowance?
    2. What can be deducted as a volunteer allowance?
    3. What are the requirements for the volunteer allowance?
    4. What should I bear in mind with regard to tax?
    5. What other lump sums are available for voluntary work?
    6. You should note the following for verification and documentation
    7. FAQ – other frequently asked questions
    8. Find your volunteer position on

Definition: What is the honorary allowance?

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The honorary allowance is a tax-free allowance currently amounting to €840 for expense allowances paid for voluntary work in the service of a non-profit association or a non-profit organisation. It is exempt from tax and social security contributions, which means that neither the volunteers nor the associations or organizations have to pay taxes on the payment. The prerequisite for this is that the association or organization has non-profit status. The volunteer allowance is regulated in Section 3 No. 26a of the Income Tax Act (EStG).

What can be deducted as a volunteer allowance?

It is not precisely defined what can be billed, as the potential tasks are different for each organization. However, the activity must fundamentally serve the charitable purpose of the association and be classified as a non-material activity or a special-purpose business.

What is the conceptual area?

The non-material area of an association describes the core area of its activities. In the case of a non-profit sports club, for example, this would be all activities that revolve around ensuring the sporting activities: Maintenance of equipment, driving services, cleaning the premises, supervision and much more.

Independently of this, there is also atrainer’s allowance, which can be paid to trainers in sports clubs, for example. More details here.

What does special-purpose operation mean?

Special-purpose business means the economic activity of an association to generate income that enables the maintenance of the association’s activities. In the case of sports clubs, for example, this would be sporting events at which entrance fees are collected to cover the club’s expenses.

This online seminar from the German Foundation for Commitment and Volunteering (the seminar is in german) provides further details on which lump sums are available for what and what conditions must be met.

What are the requirements for the volunteer allowance?

There are a number of requirements for receiving an honorary allowance.

  1. Secondary occupation: The activity may only take up one third of the time taken up by the main occupation. The general rule is 14 hours a week. Incidentally, this also counts if you do not have a main job.
  2. Voluntary: The activity may not be regularly paid, but must be carried out voluntarily.
  3. Non-profit: Non-profit means that the activity is aimed at selflessly promoting the general public in material, spiritual or moral terms. You can find more details in Section 52(2) of the German Fiscal Code (AO)

What should I bear in mind with regard to tax?

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There is the so-called basic tax-free allowance, which states that annual income up to a limit of €11,604 (2024) is not taxed for singles. For married couples, this corresponds to €23,208. The honorary allowance is not added to this amount, but can be received in addition. However, it must also be declared in the tax return.

Where in the tax return do I have to declare the lump sum for voluntary work?

Self-employed persons enter the volunteer allowance in Anlage S and employees in Anlage N. All income that exceeds the amount of € 840 is taxed regularly. You can find more information here at Finanztip, for example.

What other lump sums are available for voluntary work?

In addition to the lump sum for voluntary work, there are three other tax incentives to support voluntary work. These are the trainer’s allowance, expense allowances from public funds and the expense allowance for volunteer supervisors.

  • You receive expense allowances from the public purse, for example, for work as a lay assessor (honorary judge) or election assistant (Section 3 No. 12 S.2 Income Tax Act)
  • The expense allowance for voluntary care is available if you look after a person who requires legal care due to their physical or mental condition (Section 3 No. 26 b EStG or Section 1878 BGB)
  • Probably the most extensive lump sum with an allowance of up to € 3,000 is the trainer’s allowance(Section 3 No. 26 EStG). The requirements for this are similar to those for the volunteer allowance. It can be paid out by associations or organizations to volunteer trainers, instructors, carers, educators or artists. Further information can be found at Deutsches-Ehrenamt.
Can different packages be combined?

In principle, these packages can be combined with each other. It is only important to ensure that no funding is claimed more than once for the same activity. However, the activities may very well be performed for the same association.

Incidentally, the exercise leader and volunteer allowances can also be combined with marginal employment, so-called mini-jobs. You can find more information at VereinsWiki, for example.

You should note the following for verification and documentation

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Proof and documentation of activities and their payment are necessary to avoid unpleasant surprises when filing tax returns. The good thing is that the effort involved is limited. The decisive factor is that…

  • …the activity is described in detail, especially if both the lump-sum allowance for trainers and the lump-sum allowance for voluntary work have been paid. This should also include information about yourself and the period of employment. You can find forms here:
  • …it is documented for whom the activity was carried out. The commissioning body must pursue a charitable purpose. The certificate should therefore also describe the purpose in addition to the data on the association.

A contract is also suitable for regular activities with the same club or organization.

FAQ – other frequently asked questions

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 Volunteer allowance vs. “trainer’s allowance” : What’s the difference?

The trainer’s allowance is intended for a narrower field of activity than the volunteer allowance. For example, it is aimed at trainers, instructors, nurses, educators and artists. The honorary allowance can be received for almost any activity in the service of a non-profit organization.

How high was the volunteer allowance in 2023?

Since 2021, the honorary allowance has been €840 per year. Until 2021, it was still €720 per year.

Where can I find the forms for the volunteer allowance?

There is no official form. Information that should definitely be on a confirmation is:

  • Type and scope of activity
  • Number of hours or days to be worked
  • Declaration that you have not already claimed the honorary allowance from another association or similar organization
  • Data about yourself and the association / organization you worked for
  • Legally binding signatures of you and the association / organization

You can find more information on this at Deutsches Ehrenamt and at the German Foundation for Commitment and Volunteering.

Can I deduct the time spent on voluntary work from my tax bill without receiving any money?

No, you can’t deduct the time spent directly. It is possible as an expense or return donation. You will receive a donation receipt, which you can claim for tax purposes. You can find out more at

Can I combine the volunteer allowance with a mini-job?

Yes, you can combine both the volunteer allowance and the allowance for training supervisors with your mini-job. You can find more information at VereinsWiki, for example.

Find your volunteer position on

You now know enough about the volunteer allowance but are still missing the right volunteering or commitment? Or would you like to discover a new area? Then take a look at Here you can find volunteer activities throughout Germany and filter according to your interests.

We hope this gives you a good overview of the volunteer allowance!

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