Friday, March 18, 2011

[IWS] Dublin Foundation: EUROPE & VOLUNTEERING (Briefs) [February 2011]

IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor----------------------
Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Dublin Foundation)



Volunteering in Europe

The extent of formal volunteering varies between European countries, depending on the available organisational setup and infrastructure to facilitate and encourage volunteering. Since the rules and incentives for registering voluntary organisations vary between Member States, however, comparing the extent of even solely formal volunteering across countries is difficult. Data from both Eurostat’s Standard Eurobarometer 2010 and Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) cast more light on the phenomenon of volunteering.

Older people and volunteering

Older people have typically been seen as the beneficiaries of voluntary activities. Indeed, the role of voluntary services is likely to become increasingly important in the context of cuts in state-provided welfare services and payments as a result of the economic crisis. However, increasing attention is also being paid to the contribution and potential of older people as voluntary workers.

Volunteering - What's different in the new Member States?

The formerly communist countries of central and eastern Europe provide a good example of how strongly volunteering is influenced by political and social traditions. These countries’ communist legacy did not favour a culture of volunteering and influenced the emergence of such a culture after the collapse of the regimes. First, the very notion of volunteering as an activity arising from grassroots level challenged the power of the communist state, which claimed to have the capacity to provide for all citizens. Secondly, ‘voluntary’ work in these countries was – in reality – compulsory unpaid work in schemes initiated by central authorities, resulting in negative connotations for the term ‘volunteering’. Nowadays, however, participation in voluntary and charitable activities in some of the new Member States (NMS) is above the EU average.

Is volunteering for everyone?

Although the Eurobarometer surveys in 2006 and 2010 show relatively little change in the level of participation in volunteering, recent Eurofound research points to a general upward trend in many Member States. The growth in volunteering of the last 10 years is partly attributed to public initiatives to promote volunteering, an increasing number of voluntary organisations (perhaps reflecting greater awareness of social and environmental problems) and growing needs for delivery of public welfare services. The upward trend may reflect an increasing involvement of older people and more positive public perceptions of volunteering, particularly in some of the new Member States.

Companies and volunteering

In most Member States, no legal provision or specific support schemes exist to facilitate private sector companies’ engaging in corporate volunteering. Nonetheless, more companies are introducing such initiatives. CSR Europe, the European business network for corporate social responsibility, and its national-level partner organisations such as Business in the Community (in Ireland and the UK) are actively involved in promoting volunteering by staff in companies



This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
Fax: (607) 255-9641                       



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