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Voluntary activities keeps people satisfied and positive during hard times in Estonia

Tallinn (Estonia), September 17, 2009 - In spite of troubled times in economy almost half (47 %) of Estonian population have been engaged in some voluntary activity during last year, at the same time only few are aware that this is considered voluntary activity, shows recent survey ordered by Volunteer Development Estonia. Main activities, where people voluntarily participated, were offering help to other people (50 %) and taking part in community work or rescue missions (43 %).

The survey was carried out in cooperation with TNS Emor, Praxis Center for Policy Studies and civil society consultant Kristina Mänd. Voluntary activity was defined in the survey as offering one’s time, energy or skills out of free will and without any lucre. Voluntary activity was considered to be an act in public interest and for the community, but also activities done for other people. Helping one’s family members or money and material donations were not considered voluntary activity.

According to the survey voluntary contributing offers people sincere joy and satisfaction, also opportunities to communicate with others and spend pleasant time together. Both groups, those who had participated in voluntary activities and those who had not, consider voluntary activities important for person’s as well as community’s general development and it has a positive image. Majority of respondents also agree that voluntary contribution is a growing trend and more attention should be paid to it – for example employers, public leaders and state should value and recognize it more. Main reason for not participating in voluntary activities is lack of time (46 % of those, who had not participated).

“It is clear that potential of voluntary activities in Estonian society is quite big and currently not fully applied. The survey gives good pointers to small village communities as well as nation-wide organizations how to develop and motivate voluntary activities,” is delighted about the survey Tuulike Mänd, manager of Volunteer Development Estonia. She adds: “recruiting volunteers we need to keep in mind that they have their own reasons and agendas that motivate them. Recruiting volunteers assumes an integrated picture of the relationship between a volunteer and recruiting organization and organization’s caring attitude.”

Within the framework of the survey 601 people nation-wide older than 15 years were interviewed including 401 respondents, who had participated in voluntary activities and 200 who had not taken part. Telephone interviews were conducted in May. The survey gives important knowledge to organizations engaging volunteers as well as to other interested parties about the background of volunteers, their motivation and barriers for not being a volunteer.

Volunteer Development Estonia, who ordered the survey helps to spread and develop voluntary activities in Estonia. Organization’s aim is to promote voluntary activities, raise other organizations ability to involve and lead volunteers and to create an environment that supports and favors voluntary activities. The survey was supported by Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Foundation of Civil Society.

Survey results are available in Estonian:


Gerda Möller
TNS Emor research expert

Tuulike Mänd
manager of Volunteer Development Estonia

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