Definition of Volunteering

What is volunteering?

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group freely gives time “to benefit another person, group or organization” Volunteering is also renowned for skill development and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served.It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.

The concept of “volunteer”

The term ‘volunteer’ has been recently introduced in the lexicon of the social sciences and not without ambiguity and vagueness connected to its original connotation of common sense.

It is agreed almost unanimously that the term ‘voluntary action’ identifies a particular type of social action and it is often characterized by the gratuity, that is without financial reward some reimbursement for expenses, stipend-type payments or payments in kind such as provision of meals and transport. Indeed, these kinds of payments are often regarded as good practice as they make opportunities for volunteer action more accessible and inclusive.
The action that qualifies as a form of social altruism or philanthropy is a type of action that takes “a form of gift generously offered”, although most of the times is produced and delivered on an organized basis. 
However, the gratuity alone does not appear a sufficient criterion to distinguish the voluntary action by other forms of action (such as leisure) that are not performed in order to obtain in return an economic reward. The voluntary action goal is in fact geared to produce benefits for the exclusive advantage of individuals clearly distinguished from those who perform the action and it is configured as a service or distribution of goods to others, for the common good. It should directly or indirectly benefit people outside the family or household, even though the volunteer normally benefits as well from the experience. In many cultures, a volunteer is often described as “someone who works for community well being”.

Why volunteer?

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.
Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.
Benefits of volunteering: 4 ways to feel healthier and happier
1. Volunteering connects you to others
2. Volunteering is good for your mind and body
3. Volunteering can advance your career
4. Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life


EVOLVET (European VOLunteer coordinators Vocation Education and Training) was a European strategic partnership funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission, composed by seven organizations working with development projects for social inclusion and education from Austria, Finland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

The project, that took place from the 01/09/2015 to the 31/08/2017, aimed at giving a positive impulsion to the training of volunteer coordinators by providing a standardized tool-kit containing on-the-job training materials for skills and competences commonly demanded to volunteer coordinators across Europe, not only for the management of development projects but also on the concrete education and training of the volunteers taking part on them.
Moreover, the project also run transnational training mobilities that made possible to volunteer coordinators from the different partner organizations to take part in common education initiatives about volunteer management embedded within the activities of the project. 
The creation of such standard pan-European training materials for professional volunteer coordinators is intended to contribute to improve the transparency and recognition of their qualifications and competences using already established systems based on measurable recognitions at transnational level, including those acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning. 
Furthermore, the project was focused on identifying the skills required by professional volunteer coordinators on development organisations, what allowed to compose an standard curriculum of competences for this professional category for being used afterwards for both, vocational education and training centres (to develop new learning pathways, methodologies and degrees) and organisations working with projects for local and international development (to detect which competences should be reinforced on their teams and detect those skills needed for future recruitments).

Participation of Art in Tanzania at the first transnational training for facilitators of EVOLVET

Art in Tanzania is always showing efforts of creating new collaborations with other organizations, whether local or international. This month from June 19th to June 25th the first transnational training for facilitators of EVOLVET which stands for European Volunteer Coordinators Vocation Education and Training is taking place in Vienna, Austria. Art in Tanzania is now part of the EVOLVET project which is co‐funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ programme. 

Kari Kohonen, the head of Art in Tanzania, is participating at the first training in Vienna. EVOLVET is a two-year long partnership of the Erasmus+ programme that was organized by CONGDCA. This is an organization from Spain and is additionally supported by several institutions, namely LVIA from Italy (, Fund for Intercultural Education from Poland (, Pista Mágica – Associação from Portugal (www.pista‐ , Platforma dobrovolnickych centier a organizacii from Slovakia (, Südwind Agentur from Austria (www.suedwind‐ and of course Art in Tanzania Ry. Art in Tanzania was founded in Finland, but is mainly active in Tanzania.
The emphasis of this training will be on the first meeting, which will involve exchanges of different experiences and will elaborate on materials prepared during previous months. As one of the main aims will be on the process of the implementation of the next phases of this project. This is made possible through the staff conducting workshops that mix formal and non-formal methodologies as a method of bringing together different perspectives and creating interesting discussions and exchanges between the numerous organizations.

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