Information about Diakonie in English

Diakonie - At a Glance

Diakonie is the social welfare organisation of Germany’s Protestant churches. Our mission is to practise charity in the model of Jesus Christ. We operate independently and across political parties. We respect the dignity and uniqueness of every human being, and work to promote every individual’s right to independence and self-determination. 

Diakonie provides aid to people in need of care, to people with disabilities or illness, to children and families, to immigrants and their families, to those struggling with addiction, and to those otherwise disadvantaged. In addition, Diakonie advocates on behalf of the underprivileged in politics and society, leading discussions on the causes of poverty and social injustice. As the social welfare organisation of Germany’s Protestant churches, Diakonie is the place where our employees and volunteers stand up for those in need.

All of Diakonie’s work is based in the Protestant conviction. We strive to fashion ourselves after God’s unconditional love as embodied by Jesus Christ. Diakonie addresses the wants and needs of others based on the Christian view of mankind. This view includes the belief that every human being is vulnerable, and needs love and forgiveness. Some are in greater need of help than others. Diakonie carries out its mission by offering a wide range of support, including practical aid, legal representation and business ventures.

Diakonie represents the social projects of all of Germany’s Protestant churches. Diakonie Germany is the charitable organisation of the Protestant church in Germany.

Our affiliates are

  • The charities of the 16 churches belonging to the Protestant church iGermany (EKD)
  • The charities of nine other denominations and protestant free churches in Germany
  • 66 agencies operating in various fields of social work, public health and child welfare

Our work includes

  • Approximately 33,000 inpatient and outpatient care centres – from nursing homes and hospitals to community outreach and welfare centres
  • Approximately 643,447  places in child care services, 195,884 places in elderly care and 175,995 places in disabled care services
  • Approximately 599,770 full- or part-time employees
  • The work of 700,000 volunteers
  • Approximately 2,237 self-help groups organised by the agency
  • The charity work of approximately 18,000 parishes belonging to both member and independent churches


Diakonie Deutschland is the non-profit social welfare organisation of Germany’s Protestant churches. Its members include the charities of the 21 churches belonging to the Protestant church in Germany, the charities of nine other independent churches integrated into the Diakonie Working Group, and 70 agencies operating in various fields of social work, public health and child welfare. As a charitable organisation, Diakonie Deutschland represents the interests of those it serves at the government level. It also advocates on their behalf within various national and international organisations, and in the European Union.

Together with the nation’s other leading charitable organisations, Diakonie Deutschland works to protect the social safety net of the German Constitution and to ensure that the state fulfils its duty to serve the public. Diakonie Deutschland works to represent those in need and to be a catalyst for social work and policy.

In 2012, the Diakonisches Werk der EKD merged with the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst to form the Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung (‘Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development’). The new agency was founded in order to meet the demands of a globalised world. The Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung carries out the church’s mission through its aid programmes Bread for the World and Diakonie Emergency Aid, as well as through the programmes of the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst. However, it is clear that our social work at the national level and development work at the international level are becoming ever more intertwined.

While Bread for the World supports long-term development projects, Diakonie Emergency Aid provides emergency services and disaster relief in crisis situations.

The new umbrella organisation consists of the two agencies Bread for the World: Protestant Development Services and Diakonie Deutschland: Protestant Federal Association.

Diakonie for adults

Social services, education, continuing education, vocational training, housing, counselling, addiction prevention, self-help, volunteer work, community service, spiritual guidance, ecumenism (interfaith cooperation), theology, volunteer organising, information, our mission statement, history, statistics

Diakonie for senior citizens

Housing communities, outpatient assisted living centres, care at home, local services, daily care, short-term care, care in nursing homes, services for people with dementia, counselling, assistance, recreational centres, support for care-giving family members

Diakonie for women and families

Marriage counselling, women’s shelters, pregnancy consultation, adoption services, maternity centres, post-natal recovery, support for single parents, facilities for mother and child, community support, family counselling and support, parenting courses, life counselling

Diakonie for children

Support and social work, day care centres, schools, youth centres, career counselling, federal volunteer service, volunteer community service year

Diakonie for people coping with illness

Hospitals, medical and occupational rehab programmes, care at home

Diakonie for terminally ill people

Hospice, palliative care

Diakonie for people in (urgent) need

Aid for the poor, aid for the homeless, railway shelters, counselling for sex workers and victims of human trafficking, counselling for ex-convicts, debt counselling, career counselling and training, support hotlines, counselling via correspondence

Diakonie for people with disabilities

Consultation, early childhood support, pre-schools, schools, employment, integration into the workplace, assistance, support services, outpatient assisted living, counsellin

Diakonie for people with psychiatric disorders/mental illness

Consultation, therapy, counselling centres, psychiatric clinics, medical and occupational rehab, social and psychiatric services, day clinics, day care centres, assisted living centres, outpatient assisted living, transitional facilities, homes, home care/nursing, integration services

Diakonie for people struggling with addiction

Self-help groups, counselling centres and specialised clinics, therapy, inpatient rehab, detox centres, outpatient follow-up care, recovery homes

Diakonie for people between countries and cultures

Information and consultation for immigrants, specialised services for asylum seekers and refugees, immigration services for young people, information on emigration 

The word diakonie evokes service to mankind based on the ideals of Christian charity. The mission to help those in need has always been a core value of the Protestant church. In the middle of the 19th century, the church created an organisation for its social work called the Innere Mission (‘Interior Mission’). The project was started in 1848 at the Wittenberg Church Conference by Hamburg theologist Johann Hinrich Wichern, who called for a systematic approach to combating spiritual and material poverty. In 1849, the Central Board for the Innere Mission was founded. Soon afterward, organisations led by the Innere Mission sprang up across the country, with legally autonomous facilities and institutions offering social services and care.

At the end of the Second World War, the Protestant church created an additional aid organisation in order to meet the specific needs of those suffering amidst the destruction of post-war Germany. The new organisation sought to attain aid from abroad to combat the nation’s hunger crisis, to facilitate the transition of displaced persons and refugees into new homes, and to support young people’s education and employment.

In 1959, the Protestant church launched the initiative Bread for the World in order to provide aid to people in developing countries. (The project was later incorporated into the Diakonisches Werk as a full-time agency.) An annual donation drive is held specifically for Bread for the World projects every Christmas.

In 1975, the Innere Mission merged with the Hilfswerk to form the Diakonisches Werk der EKD. In March 1991, the corresponding member organisations of the Protestant church in East Germany joined the Diakonisches Werk.

In 2012, the Diakonisches Werk der EKD merged with the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst to form the Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung (Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development).

For more information about the history of Diakonie, visit 

The crown and cross is the symbol of Diakonie and the basis for its modern logo. Designed in 1925 by Professor Richard Boeland at the Berlin School of Art, it was originally the symbol of the Innere Mission. With this in mind, Boeland sought to simultaneously represent the letters ‘I’ and ‘M’.

In 1925, the organisation’s member associations were requested to use the symbol and to display it in all of their facilities.

In 1930, it was also adopted by the International Association for the Innere Mission and by Diakonie. The Innere Mission thus became one of the first church organisations to adopt a corporate logo.

In 1975, the Diakonisches Werk der EKD was formed from the merger of the Innere Mission with the Hilfswerk, and adopted the symbol as its own. Our employees and volunteers draw inspiration from the crown and cross as they work to provide aid to those in need.

Diakonie Deutschland stands up for poor and marginalized people so that they can effectively exercise their human rights. All of our actions are guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, and the assumption of responsibility in the handling of power and resources. In this way, we ensure that people are not negatively affected by our actions in their right to self-determination as well as physical and psychological integrity. One of our pillars of assuming responsibility is the definition of ethical standards.

Our Code of Conduct

Our code of conduct defines our fundamental principles guiding our actions and clearly states protection against discrimination, sexual exploitation/abuse, endangering of a child’s well-being, as well as corruption. The code of conduct is binding for all employees as an integral part of their employment contract. Furthermore, the ethical standards also apply to employees with local employment contracts, consultants, professionals and volunteers. These standards are the basis for our cooperation with our partners worldwide. The intention of the code of conduct is to establish a safe and open environment for all involved parties. It aims to provide an orientation for the prevention and proper handling of illegal and unethical situations.

Our Ombudsperson

Besides the definition of ethical standards, we endeavour to prevent inappropriate behaviour through an array of different measures. Nevertheless, in case of any infringements, intervention measures such as our case management take effect. Different communication channels aim to facilitate the disclosing of illegal or unethical behavior in an easily accessible manner (low-threshold).

One of these channels, which enables the complainants a special protection, is our ombudsperson. The ombudsperson is a freelance lawyer external to the organization and is independent from Diakonie Deutschland. The main task of the external ombudsperson is to confidentially handle the information received from complainants and to protect those providing the information as well as those directly concerned. This is guaranteed through the lawyer’s professional obligation to maintain secrecy and his right to refuse to give evidence. In addition, Bread for the World has waived its rights to information in order to protect complainants.

If the ombudsperson receives a complaint, the ombudsperson will consult with the notifying party and agree upon further steps to be taken. Information will only be disclosed with the explicit consent of the informant, and anonymously, if that is desired. The responsibilities for any further investigation of the case depends on whether the federal association of Diakonie Deutschland or the regional associations or specialised agencies are affected.

  • In cases that affect the federal association of Diakonie Deutschland, complaints will be forwarded to the so-called Integrity Team, which will investigate the cases at the level of the Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development (Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e. V.)
  • In cases that concern charitable organizations, regional associations of Diakonie Deutschland or its agencies specialising in various fields of social work, public health and child welfare, the Integrity Team is not responsible. In such cases, the suspected case will be forwarded to the Officer of Complaint Management at Diakonie Deutschland, who will then send the complaint to the responsible person at the respective regional association or specialised agency, who is responsible for the investigation of the case.

In both cases, the ombudsperson will regularly inform notifying parties about the status of the ongoing proceedings.

Contact details of our ombudsman: Martin Keil, Tel:+49 (0)30 84716913, [email protected]