The German nonprofit sector looks back upon a long history of intensive co-operation with government at every level of governance (local, regional and national) and in various policy fields. Particularly in the area of social service provision, nonprofit organizations used to enjoy a privileged position. Due to German social laws, nonprofits were thoroughly protected from market competition. However, in recent decades this particular model of nonprofit-government co-operation for which "subsidiarity" served as an ideological and legal underpinning has significantly changed. With a special eye on most recent developments the article provides a portrait of the German nonprofit sector. Against the background of the legacy of history and a specific political culture of nonprofit-government relationships, the legal framework for nonprofit activity as well as taxation and tax incentives for giving and volunteering are outlined. The paper highlights the impressive success story of Germany´s nonprofit sector in terms of organizational growth, importance for the country´s labor market and economy. But, the article also discusses the reluctance of the German government to acknowledge the economic strength of the sector by treating its organizations as beneficial and on par with economic enterprises.
Keywords: Germany; Subsidiarity; Legal and Organizational Forms; Nonprofit- Government Relationship; Tax Laws and Tax Incentives