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Open source in a German voluntary association

Caritas Deutschland has turned to open source for its online counselling platform.

Published on: 16/07/2021

The registered charity German Caritas Association switched to open source for its platform dedicated to the provision of online counselling services. In doing this, it calls for a growing involvement of other associations in the open source community.


The platform for online counselling launched by the voluntary association Caritas in Germany (Die Online-Beratung der Caritas) has chosen open source for its platform. At the end of June 2020, the Deutsche Caritasverband e.V. released the software source code of the Caritas online counselling platform on Github under AGPL 3.0, for sharing and editing. In switching to open source, Caritas recognised the several benefits and positive spillovers deriving from such a decision.

First of all, open source could help the welfare-related associations share development burdens, in case most of them follow Caritas in this technological drift. In this, Caritas itself called for fellow organisations to join it in its open source strategy. As the charity association claimed, a strong collaboration within the open source community can also improve the IT solutions, thus providing the associations with (qualitatively) better and more secure tools than the ones they could develop on their own.

Additionally, in the wake of the “public money, public code” principle, a procurement strategy that looks at open source software solutions fulfils the non-profit associations’ responsibility towards public funding. Finally, there is a thorough knowledge transfer from outside the organisation by pooling expertise on several different areas, thus enhancing the staff’s digital skills and know-how.


About the platform

The Caritas online counselling platform provides whoever is in need with anonymous, secure and free-of-charge services in relation to a large array of areas, namely: general social counseling, disability and mental impairment, parents and family, HIV and AIDS, hospice and palliative counseling, advice for boys and men, children and adolescents, child and youth rehab, crisis counseling for young adults, cures for mothers and fathers, life in old age, migration, legal support and provision, debt, debt counseling for young people, pregnancy, delinquency, addiction, grief counseling, U25 suicide prevention, transition from school to work.