Our principles

Everything we do is oriented around eight principles. These form the basis for our educational work as well as our collaboration within the Association. We also have a mission statement.

The ijgd principles

Ecological learning

As part of our efforts to educate on sustainable development, we encourage intergenerational discussions in all areas of the ijgd on the relationship between people and nature as well as issues relating to ecology. We also aim to raise awareness of environmental issues. Possibilities for structuring our daily lives to be more ecological and sustainable are linked with positive experiences. We encourage everyone to look at their own patterns of behaviour through the use of practical experiences. That helps us see how we can make our own lives more sustainable and to better understand the wide reaching consequences of our actions on ourselves, on other people, the global environment and future generations.

Voluntary contribution

Freely contributing our efforts is the foundation on which the ijgd is built and is a prerequisite for self-organisation and motivated engagement. It is this motivation that separates voluntary work from that which is done under obligation within society. Volunteers should see their activities not purely as a service to society, but also as an opportunity to orient themselves and to learn. Voluntary work offers the necessary freedom to try something new and to discover yourself without the normal pressures of society.


The freedom you have volunteering provides you with the opportunity, and requires you, to work on and develop yourself. Believing in yourself, taking responsibility and keeping away from pre-defined structures is what defines this freedom. The interests and desires of everyone are to be respected and included.

Social learning

Group life in all areas of the ijgd is shaped by social cooperation and a culture of understanding. It is important to us that different needs and opinions are taken into consideration in order to create an inclusive collaborative atmosphere. This requires that prejudices are challenged and overcome. Working together in a group and changing perspectives can help develop and (re)shape both your own personality as well as society as a whole. It also allows social and emotional skills to be learned such as cooperation and the ability to manage conflict. Social learning describes a lifelong, cross-generational process that is shaped from personal and joint responsibility, community and participation in civil society.

Intercultural learning - normalising diversity

Different types of encounters between different cultures are a feature of all our programmes. We believe that each person is made up of a combination of several cultures. We strive to take a critical look at these diverse Associations and the various possible courses of action that individuals can take and those which are still missing. To do this, we take a look at our own prejudices and the different form of discrimination found in society while always considering the things we have in common within our own country and across borders. Doing this enables openness, mutual understanding and an ability to appreciate diversity.

Gender equality and sexual diversity

Our projects sensitise people to gender diversity and sexual orientation. Everyone is encouraged to work with others as equals and to question common stereotypes and gender roles. Self-determination and individuality are the main focus. Prejudices against others that lead to discrimination due to gender (e.g. queer, trans, inter, female, etc.) and/or sexuality (e.g. lesbian, gay, pan, bi, etc.) are to be overcome. We aim to enable and promote mutual acceptance.

Anti-racism, anti-discrimination

“Me? Prejudiced? Certainly not.” Everyone has been conditioned, often without them even being aware of it, to think in ways that can result in them saying and doing things that are racist or discriminate in some way. At ijgd, we provide the space for you to take a look at your own prejudices and stereotypes. In doing so, we look at and think about the power relationships and our own role within society.

Civic education

The ijgd considers itself to be a place for civic education. We understand civic education to be the process of experiencing and shaping an active democracy. The ijgd encourages critical thinking, stimulates discussion and gets people asking questions about the existing structures within society and actively promotes autonomous political decision making and awareness. Volunteering is a special type of civic engagement that we at the ijgd strongly believe is an integral part of an active democracy and civic education.


Shalina Marx is the ijgd’s anti-discrimination officer. You can get in touch with her if you experience any form of discrimination.


The ijgd mission statement

The "Internationale Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste (ijgd)" is an association and sponsor of extracurricular educational activities that has been bringing together young people from around the world to get actively involved in volunteering since 1949. As a specialist organisation with charitable status, and as one of the oldest and largest sponsors of voluntary services, we organise various volunteering programmes throughout Germany and abroad ranging from two-week workcamps to full year volunteering services. Areas that volunteers work in include social work, ecology, democracy and monument preservation.

We work with people of all ages, although we focus primarily on young people aged 16 to 26. We find placements for volunteers with our project partners and deployment sites. We provide support to our volunteers throughout the duration of their voluntary service. Our civic education forms part of all our programmes and gives participants the chance to become more aware of the conditions that exist within society.

We use methods of non-formal education and promote informal learning. In order to do this, we create spaces in which young people can discover their own potential and skills and try out new things. We take an “error-friendly” approach. Volunteers are creative, act with solidarity and take on personal responsibility.

We are open-minded and independent from any political parties and religious institutions. We therefore reject societal conditions that disadvantage or exclude people or groups of people based on e.g. origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, economic status or religion. We believe the dignity of the individual to be inalienable. With this in mind, we strive to convey an anti-racist, anti-sexist and inclusive idea of what it is to be human.

It is our ambition to get as many people as possible involved in our work. We want to create a better world for ourselves and for others without the logic of efficiency, even if this is currently only possible within our groups.

The flat, transparent and open structure of our organisation provides both volunteers and those employed by the organisation the opportunity to discuss, shape our work and get involved (for example by initiating working groups). Those who work for us on a voluntary basis receive professional support from those who are employed. This is because the ijgd relies on the activities and engagement of everyone who supports our volunteers, our work and our goals. We maintain a collaborative relationship with a large network of deployment sites and project partners.

Agreed at the AGM of the General Assembly in 2014 in Helmstedt.