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2011 - European Year of Volunteering - 06/01/2011

Logo for European Year of Volunteering, featuring 3 interlocking arms © EU

Year-long campaign to celebrate the work of existing volunteers, address the challenges they face and encourage more people to get involved.

Volunteering benefits everybody and brings communities closer together. For volunteers, it's a way to give something back to society and pick up new skills. It takes many forms, like helping out at a sports club, school, hospital or charity. Today, about 20% of Europeans give up their time to volunteer.

The European Year of Volunteering aims to encourage more people to get involved by:

  • making it easier to volunteer
  • rewarding volunteers, for example by formally recognising the skills they acquire in the course of their work
  • improving the quality of volunteering by providing training and matching volunteers to suitable vacancies
  • raising awareness of the value of volunteering.

Throughout the year, a group of volunteers will be touring the EU to show people the kind of work they are doing. During their 10 days in each country they will also meet policy-makers to discuss what’s important to them.

A team of 27 volunteer journalists will take turns in covering each leg of the tour and produce a series of audiovisual and written reports that will be broadcast and published in the media and online.

Four high-profile conferences will take place throughout the year to assess key issues related to volunteering.

Work at national level will be coordinated by the EYV Alliance, a cluster of 33 European volunteering networks founded in 2007. Potential volunteers can use the Alliance’s site to find information on volunteering opportunities, make a commitment to volunteer for a specific amount of time and even view how many voluntary hours have been pledged since 1 January.

The EU has been working to promote volunteering for many years and in 1996 set up the European Voluntary Service to encourage young people to volunteer abroad in local communities.

The European Year coincides with and complements UN-led activities to mark the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers.

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