A study commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and conducted by the Baltic Research Institute shows that every second person in Estonia has participated in volunteer activities in the past year.
Compared to a study from five years ago, the share of volunteers has grown from 31 percent to 49 percent in Estonia. Volunteer activities are understood to mean offering one’s time, energy and/or skills from one’s free will and without receiving financial or proprietary benefits.
Upon introducing the study, the Minister of the Interior Katri Raik said that volunteer activities are a characteristic of a successful society and a very important part of it. “I am happy that this is a rising trend: an ever increasing number of people in Estonia are able to see the society and its needs on a broader scale and is engaged in volunteer activities. I invite you to take a look around and see if anyone needs help, and my heartfelt praise goes to everyone who is already contributing their time, money or skills for the good of others,” Raik added.
Maarja Käger, project manager and analyst at the Baltic Research Institute, said that 60 percent of the population has contributed as volunteers at least once in their life. “Those who place higher value on the effects of volunteer activities on both the society and the volunteer are more likely to engage in volunteer activities,” said Käger.
The study showed that the ways in which people act as volunteers and how organisations and people understand volunteering are changing. Every volunteer is contributing to more areas than before and there is an ever increasing number of people who contribute as volunteers in so-to-say onetime bites. At the same time, organisations feel a need for regular volunteers who would work at the same organisation for a longer period of time. “It is important for the policy makers and other stakeholders to focus on support to the management of such changes with regard to organisations that engage volunteers,” said Maarja Käger. According to her, it is also worth paying attention to engaging target groups that would like to participate in volunteer activities but are currently unable to find suitable opportunities or are not sufficiently aware of the opportunities. “For instance, this includes the elderly, of whom a third are currently volunteers. As well as people who are looking for possibilities to contribute with the entire family, like the new immigrants for whom this is a good opportunity to adapt in the society and find contacts,” Käger added. As supporters of volunteer activities, employers play an ever increasing role, as flexible working hours facilitate volunteer contribution and an increasing number of volunteers are acting via employers.
The following areas have the largest numbers of volunteers: promotion of local life (42%), environmental protection and nature conservation (34%), education and research (23%), sports and fitness (23%), and animal protection (20%). The most popular activities are upkeep and maintenance works (33%) and event organisation (15%), whereas the proportion of volunteers has grown in all the activities compared to 2013.
You can have a closer look at the study on the homepage of the Ministry of the Interior. The study included interviews with experts and those who engage volunteers and a representative population survey in 2018. The results are an important input to the civil society development programme being prepared by the Ministry of the Interior and its partners.