About Volunteerism

  • Volunteer work, often referred to simply as “volunteering,” is a crucial renewable resource for economic, social, cultural, political and environmental problem-solving the world over.
  • Volunteering is a pathway to integration and employment and a key factor for improving social cohesion.
  • Volunteering can be a means of gaining knowledge, exercising skills and extending social networks.
  • Volunteering acts like an additional educational qualification or form of work experience, boosting a person’s curriculum vitae and adding to their monetary rewards over time.
  • Above all, volunteering translates the fundamental values of justice, solidarity, inclusion and citizenship.
  • Volunteering, therefore, not only contributes to skills development and the economy, but also strengthens solidarity and social cohesion, and can make a contribution to inclusive growth, as envisaged by the Europe 2020 strategy.
  • Nearly 1 billion people throughout the world volunteer their time in a typical year through public, non‐profit, or for‐profit organisations, or directly for other people.
  • More than one fifth of Europeans (slightly above 20%) participate in voluntary and charitable activities (app. 100 million, according to 2010 EC study).
  • The GHK (2010) study delineates the extent of volunteering among European States using a five-point scale as follows:
  • very high in Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK with over 40% of adults involved in voluntary activities;
  • high in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Luxembourg where 30%–39% of adults volunteer;
  • medium high in Estonia, France and Latvia in which 20%–29% of adults are engaged in voluntary;
  • relatively low in Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Romania, Slovenia and Spain where 10%–19% of adults carry out voluntary activities;
  • low in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Lithuania in which less than 10% of adults are involved in voluntary activities.

Challenges for Volunteering

  • Study on Volunteering in the European Union (2010) identified the lack of adequate training to volunteers for the increased transparency/image of the voluntary sector as the potential challenges to volunteering.
  • Therefore the major challenge to volunteering is:

“how to provide adequate accredited professional  training, guidance and supervision for volunteers, which by providing them with competencies and tools allows them to support the provision and delivery of voluntary services.”

In EU there is:

  • a current lack of a clear logical framework: Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus and The Netherlands currently do not have a clear legal framework and clear rules for youth volunteers and volunteering.
  • a current lack of recognition: skills that are gained through volunteering activities are not always sufficiently recognized or given credit.
  • a current lack of supportive tools for the TSOs.
  • insufficient data on best practices and examples on volunteering.

Johns Hopkins University’ study namely “Volunteering in the European Union” (GHK 2010)

  • Mismatch between supply and demand: Volunteers are available for short-term projects, while organisations need people to make long-term commitments.