It’s not hard to see that in Düsseldorf, there’s always something going on… parties, concerts, meetups. It’s easy to find something to do every day, but what hasn’t been easy for many of us English expats here in Düsseldorf… is finding opportunities to volunteer (without speaking fluent German).
There’s good news and bad news.
The good news is… that while it might not be that easy to simply Google “volunteer work in Düsseldorf” with hopes that our questions will be answered, there are actually a ton of opportunities around the city that we can get involved with.
The bad news is… even if volunteer organizations are accepting English speaking volunteers, many of them still post the volunteer opportunities in German. So that means Google translate needs to become our best friend for a while.
I’m going to give you a little head start on the research process by offering up a list of potential volunteer organizations in the area that might be accepting English speaking volunteers. Please note that just because they’re included in the list below does not mean they are accepting volunteers at the moment, nor does that mean that they will always be accepting English speakers. This list has simply been created with the help of many expatriates from the Düsseldorf Expat Meetups group and the professionals at the Expat Service Desk.
Here are just a few places you might be able to email (or call) to see if they’re accepting volunteers at the moment:
The International School of Düsseldorf
The International School of Düsseldorf may not have a direct link on their website to volunteer opportunities, but they have made it public that they are always interested in business partners, industry support for learning inside and outside of the classroom and guest speakers. They also run a fundraising program which you might be able to help get involved with.
International English Library
The International English Library is always looking for volunteers. It is a volunteer-run non-profit organization where volunteers must commit to at least one 3-hour shift per week. While they do suggest you know a bit of German, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and see what they say!
Tierheim Düsseldorf (Animal Shelter)
The Tierheim Düsseldorf has a number of wonderful volunteers by their side supporting the animals as dog walkers or cat snugglers (my English translation for Katzenstreichler). The website is only in German, but given that the animals might not always need you to speak German, you might get away with English here.
BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany
Join 450,000 people in Germany and help protect the nature and the environment throughout the country. You pay a fee to join the members association of BUND, but you are opened to a number of volunteer opportunities around Germany and in Düsseldorf.
Volunteer Organizations like OXFAM, Caritas, and Diakonie
If you can spare a few hours each week to work in a shop around Düsseldorf, many of these second-hand shops are looking for volunteers to represent them in the storefront positions. I do personally know a couple people working in shops like OXFAM, Caritas and Diakonie who only know a little German and they all get by rather well (plus, it even helps you learn a bit of German yourself).
Join the Content Team at Life in Düsseldorf
It’s not all about interacting with pets, planting new trees and donating money… there are also many small ways you can help make your local community a better place. I have decided to spend my time volunteering to create this website, Life in Düsseldorf, an online community helping local expats and English speakers live it up in their new home. However, I’m not the expert, you are! If you’re passionate about bars, restaurants, bikes, working out, running, crafting (really anything you can get your hands on in Düsseldorf) then perhaps you’d be interested in writing up a few guests post for Life in Düsseldorf or joining our volunteer team?!
If you enjoy travelling, we also run a Weekend Getaway program which allows you to stay for free in various cities around NRW in exchange for a featured blog post on Life in Düsseldorf. If this is something that you might be interested in, feel free to send us an email.
Looking for something different? Go to Düsseldorf-aktiv
Düsseldorf-aktiv is a website (sorry, only in German) that offers a registered database of volunteer opportunities in Düsseldorf. While there are hundreds of different opportunities, it will be up to you to do the translations to see if one of these volunteer positions is right for you. If you’re not sure, you can always send an email to see if they’re accepting English speakers for the role.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Don’t make the same mistake I did by Googling the translation of ‘volunteer‘, you might get something like this.
Instead, try searching the German term EhrenamtsBörse. In English, this would translate to a voluntary exchange. You should find what you’re looking for using EhrenamtsBörse.
There are also groups like HiMate! that occasionally offer local volunteer opportunities for English speakers as well as Düsseldorf Changemakers who are constantly hosting upcoming events to help promote change around the city.
Do you have more questions about living #LifeInDüsseldorf? Feel free to send us an email with your question at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have tips you’d like to share with others, we’re also accepting guest posts which include the author’s name, bio and photo.