6 actions for administration to carry out to promote volunteering among the society

Volunteering has always been a very important sector in catalan society and because of that it is important to ask ourselves. What can public administrations do to help to improve and promote this sector? Roger Buch explains the main keys.

We firmly believe that volunteers must be kept away from administration. They are meant to work in non-profit organizations, not in municipal councils. We want this to preserve their autonomous performance, to strengthen their critical spirit and also to promote self-organizing of civic society. In Catalonia we have some exceptions, as the voluntary fire brigades, the voluntary foresters or the civil protection brigades, that work in a coordinated joint action with the administration.

Nevertheless, to keep volunteers off the public administration doesn’t mean these can’t intervene promoting their task. On the contrary, there are lots of activities that can be performed by the city councils and the local administration. These are initiatives that help making voluntary tasks known, while strengthening them and keeping the essence of their authonomy and self-organization. Below we propose 6 ideas on policies the administration could implement to promote volunteering amongst society and to make people aware of the importance of such a strategic sector in terms of social cohesion:

  1. To facilitate a coming together of associations and volunteers, by promoting physical meeting-spaces such as fairs, or launching volunteering online platforms where organizations could post their offers for people willing to do some voluntary work but who do not know how to start.

  2. To promote volunteering in the public media. Making known in an eye-catching way real stories about volunteers and the people they provided help to, thus giving them the chance to explain their own experience on TV or through other means.

  3. To make associationism and volunteering known within secondary education. To implement educational programmes that show the volunteering’s day-by-day and to offer working stages for students in social-committed organizations. If these “practical experiences” took place during class time on an obligatory basis, they shouldn’t be named “volunteering” (although they may increase the number of vocations on solidarity).

  4. To facilitate “umbrella organizations” offering their educational programmes. By financing an array of educational programmes on a territorial decentralized basis including contents about introduction to volunteering, specialized volunteering (prisons, elderly people, ill children, national parks, etc.) and, above all, volunteering management. These last programmes would be addressed to Volunteering Coordinators, that is, to those people who organize the day-by-day volunteering plans in their respective organizations.

  5. To legislate in favour of volunteering. By regulating the volunteers’ rights and duties and, above all, promoting tax exemptions and easy terms concerning sponsorship and patronage, in order to facilitate development and growth of volunteering entities.

  6. To finance studies and research in universities and other educational centres. This would allow a better understanding of the reality of volunteering as well as of its impact on society, also helping to identify which of the voluntary good practices are most efficient regarding social change.

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