The Federal Volunteers Service (German: Bundesfreiwilligendienst) is a German government program which encourages volunteerism among German young adults for public welfare, especially for social, ecological and cultural engagement. Every person who has finished school can apply for a volunteer position in a welfare institution accredited by the federal government.
In West Germany Liselotte Funcke advocated in the 1960s a voluntary social year for young women  Already in the 1950s there were as State mass initiative in East Germany for National integration, which took care of the removal of the rubble of World War II. In the 1960s this was the initiative of the "Mach mit Bewegung" ("participate movement").
The starting end of the 1990s by recurring debate on a possible abolition of conscription and the high demand for places in the youth volunteer services led the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, in 2003, a commission of experts "for the future of civil society" convened. Representatives of social and environmental organizations and the relevant ministries drafted a final report, that suggested, among other things, the promotion of inter-generational volunteer services. Two corresponding model projects started from 2004 but included only projects with weekly working hours to a maximum of 20 hours, so not up to the full-time use in the youth volunteer services. From 2009 to the end of 2011 a follow-up project "Voluntary Service all generations" offered only a part-time (8 hours per week) engagement.
After it became clear in late summer 2010 that the project of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to suspend conscription will be successful, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs drafted a bill for the Federal voluntary service in the departmental co-ordination. With effect of 28 April 2011 and a relatively short legislative procedure the' 'Law on the Federal Voluntary Service (BFDG Federal Voluntary Service Act)' entered into force. After initial reluctance, the service is now regarded as a success, due to the fact that in the first five years more than 216,000 persons became a "Bufdi" or "BFDler/BFDlerin" (for Bundesfreiwilligendienstleistende, German for Federal Volunteer), how the volunteers serving the BFD are called. Several associations and support stand for a further expansion of the service, after almost all the seats were awarded in 2012.
Everybody, and not only German citizens, is allowed to become volunteer of the Federal Volunteers Service after finishing the minimum school age. There is upper age limit. The service has to be fulfilled like full employees in 40 working hours per week. The minimum length of service is 12 months, with some exceptions. Volunteers over the age of 27 are allowed to serve again after five years. For the service period the volunteer has to pay full social insurance like a normal employee.
Depending on the institution the volunteers are working the federal government pays a part or all costs, especially for social insurance. The volunteer only gets pocket money.