Iuventa / Výskum mládeže / Data catalogue / 2012 / Volunteering in Slovakia – survey reflexions

Volunteering in Slovakia – survey reflexions

Research identification sheet ID: DAYR 037

Survey authors:PhDr. Alžbeta Brozmanová Gregorová, PhD., doc. PaedDr. Tatiana Matulayová, PhD., Mgr. Alžbeta Mračková, PhDr. Lenka Vavrinčíková, PhD., Mgr. Jana Vlašičová, RNDr. Samuel Koróny, PhD.
Institutional background of the survey – Centrum dobrovoľníctva Banská Bystrica, Univerzita Mateja Bela Banská Bystrica, Prešovské dobrovoľnícke centrum, C.A.R.D.O.
Data collection period: May – June 2011
Data collection: Empirical data was collected in a representative survey carried out by Agentúra pre výskum trhu a verejnej mienky (Agency for market and public opinion surveying) in the form of face-to-face standardized interviews.


Volunteering is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It is an important part of the life of the society and its development. The context of volunteering has significantly changed recently. Social trends related to modernisation of the society such as globalisation, technological development, demographic changes, changes in the civil society, onset of postmodern values and changes in family and work change attitudes of people in relation to volunteering. However, surveys show that such trends do not automatically reflect decline in participation of people but changes of the so called volunteering patterns. New trends produce new volunteering patterns. The purpose of the survey titled “Volunteering in Slovakia – survey reflexions”, which was carried out in 2011 as a part of the National Campaign to the European Year of Volunteering 2011 with support of the European Union, was to provide an overview of volunteering and its elected dimensions in the context of present-day trends identified abroad.

Goals of the survey

The purpose of the survey was to get an overview of volunteering in Slovakia and its selected dimensions and analyse such findings in the context of present-day trends in volunteering. We split the survey into two parts. The purpose of the quantitative survey was to uncover the scope of volunteering, its structure and selected aspects concerning motivation, contributions, barriers, awareness and organisational context of volunteering in Slovakia and analyse such findings in the context of present-day trends. The purpose of the qualitative survey was to identify sources and efficient strategies important for activities of volunteering centres in Slovakia, process mid-term forecast of development of volunteering in Slovakia and identify recommendations of experts for development of the volunteering policy.

Methodology of the survey and survey sample

In the first, quantitative, part of the survey, we used an “in-house” prepared questionnaire to collect empirical data. When preparing the questionnaire we applied the methodology from surveys about volunteering that had been carried out in Slovakia and abroad in the past years, the methodology of the international comparison survey of non-governmental sector carried out in years 1996 – 2000 under the lead of Lester M. Salamon from the John Hopkins University, and, in particular, the Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, 2011. Empirical data was collected by inquirers by means of a representative survey carried out by of Agentúra pre výskum trhu a verejnej mienky (Agency for market and public opinion surveying) in the form of face-to-face standardized interviews in the period from 2 May 2011 to 30 June 2011. Data was collected by 183 inquirers who were trained for holding interviews. Data was put into the SPSS file by Agentúra sociálnych analýz (Agency of Social Analyses). The quantitative statistical analysis of data was carried out by a member of the expert team, Samuel Koróny, using the statistical application SPSS, version 18. The survey sample consisted of altogether 973 respondents older than 15 years of age. Respondents were selected on the basis of quota selection of selective features: region, type of the place of residence (rural, urban), age, education.

We split execution of the qualitative survey into two parts. In the first part we applied methodology of case studies. In line with the goal of the survey and survey questions, we prepared a structure of case studies with basic questions to cover particular fields. In 2011, there were, in Slovakia, volunteering centres operating in Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Nitra, Prešov and Trnava. In our survey, we processed four case studies out of them. We selected those organisations that, in the past three years, not only declared but also implemented functions of a volunteering centre. For the purposes of collection of empirical data, we applied the technique of interviewing key persons at volunteering centres in Slovakia and the method of document content analysis. We processed four case studies of volunteering centres, which are stated in the annex to the publication. Subsequently, we focused on identification of main sources and strategies important for sustainability of volunteering centres. In the second part, we applied forecasting method DELPHI. A panel of our experts prepared a forecast of volunteering in Slovakia. We collected their recommendations for the government, public administration authorities, NGOs as well as other donors in the field of supporting volunteering in Slovakia.

Conclusions and main findings of the survey

27.5% of citizens aged 15 and over got involved in volunteering in the past 12 months. There were 47.1% of people aged 15 and over who were engaged in informal volunteering activities in the past 12 months. In Slovakia, there is a rather higher level of engagement in informal than in formal volunteering. From the long-term viewpoint, around one third of people get involved in formal volunteering; with around one half of population engaged in informal volunteering activities. There is a close connection between formal and informal volunteering. A high number of volunteers who actively take part in formal volunteering are also involved in informal volunteering activities and vice versa.

A typical feature of formal and informal volunteering in Slovakia is its long-term and regular nature. On average, the number of hours worked in formal volunteering during last 4 weeks is 18 hours; with 14 hours in the informal one. In both cases, however, there are big variations among volunteers and the median value is 10 hours.

Social profile of Slovak volunteers is as follows:

  • Approximately equal representation of men and women in both types of volunteering;
  • Approximately equal representation of age groups, even though, the 15-19 years old are the least represented age category in both types of volunteering;
  • Connection between volunteering and education; the higher level of education people have, the higher their engagement in volunteering;
  • Higher level of informal volunteering of rural population in Prešov and Košice regions;
  • Connection between volunteering and economic position. The highest level of participation was observed among university students, employed people and retired people. On the contrary, the unemployed and secondary school students showed the lowest level of engagement;
  • Connection between volunteering and income; participation does not automatically increase with growing income. From the viewpoint of income groups, the least active group of people are people with the lowest income. The highest level of participation was observed in the group of people with average income, i.e. from € 600 to 900.
  • Higher level of engagement of widowers and widows in informal volunteering;
  • Connection between religious belief and informal volunteering in favour of believers;
  • Connection to membership; members of organisations tend to participate in both type volunteering more actively.

The biggest room for involvement of volunteers is provided by non-governmental organisations, followed by municipalities and public administration authorities. Most volunteers are active in the field of social services for various target groups, in the field of environment and in the field of art and culture.

The most commonly performed activities are organising or assisting in performing activities, events or campaigns and organising and coordination of leisure activities. From the viewpoint of activities performed, the dominant one is assistance in operation of organisations and performance of their core activities; the second most common activity is providing direct personal assistance to individuals and groups. Informal volunteering is often carried out by means of neighbour help. Among frequently performed activities are also activities related to providing of various types of services.

Direct sources of information about formal volunteering are used more often than indirect sources.

Slovak volunteers are motivated to join volunteering activities especially due to their strong commitment to help others and desire to meet new people and make friends while doing volunteer work. Among important motivation factors are, not limited to, learning from volunteer experience and better understanding of oneself, people or organisations, reciprocity, increase of self-confidence and self-assessment, desire to learn, get experience or contexts that can be used at work and pleasure from recognition brought about by volunteering.

The biggest barriers to involvement in formal volunteering are not being to ask for help, lack of information about the possibility of engagement and lack of time. All uncovered barriers are important especially to people who did not get involved in formal volunteering and are not important to active volunteers.

Respondents most commonly agreed with the statement that they take part in volunteering because they like what they do. Other important contributions of volunteering are: satisfaction of work, gaining new life experience, personal development, learning new skills, making new friends, self-actualisation, feeling of being needful, self-confidence and non-selfishness. Experience gained in volunteering work is still not perceived to be transferable to the field of professional life and growth.

Most volunteers get in touch with several features of volunteering management and high and medium level of professional approach to work with volunteers. Volunteers mostly have positive experience with volunteering in the context of organisations. The level of professionalism of the work with volunteers depends on whether organisations employ paid employees and on frequency and duration of engagement in volunteering.

Infrastructure of volunteering in Slovakia je underdeveloped. Certain features of the infrastructure are developed only partially and some of them are still missing. In 2011, there were volunteering centres operating in Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Nitra, Prešov and Trnava. The concept of volunteering centres is, however, not new in this territory and the need of their existence is still unrecognised by key players, which causes problems of their financial sustainability. Volunteering centres meet several functions in line with their vision to support development of volunteering and thereby build civil society and increase the quality of life.

Volunteering outlooks defined by experts are predominantly related to identified trends and findings of the quantitative survey. It proves that the image of volunteering in Slovakia is, and probably will continue to be, in the future, a combination of the so called traditional or classic and new style of volunteering.

Based on survey findings, we can conclude that while the scope, stability, regularity, social profile of Slovak volunteers and their activities rather refer to a traditional style of volunteering, the organisational context indicates a rise of new trends identified also abroad. It is clear that traditional and new styles of volunteering should be perceived as a continuum as we can identify features of both patterns in the image of volunteering in Slovakia.

Survey recommendations

1. Recommendations for development of volunteering

  • Increase awareness of the public of volunteering by means of several information sources and means:
  • Provide more room for promotion of volunteering in public media;
  • Present volunteering in the form of providing positive examples of active citizens and their rewarding;
  • Present contributions of volunteering.
  • Increase participation of secondary school and university students in volunteering by preparing and implementing programs of service learning (combination of learning, reflexion and volunteer experience).
  • Prepare and introduce system of education to volunteering at primary and secondary schools.
  • Prepare specific programs for engagement of unemployed people, people with low income and low level of education, which will let them acquire new knowledge, skills and experience by means of volunteering activities and thus increase their ability to get employed.
  • Support volunteering of elderly people as a way of active ageing.
  • Introduce programs that will inspire employees of companies and institutions to be able to spend their time doing volunteering activities.
  • Prepare a system of direct funding of volunteering programs that will increase engagement of various groups of citizens.
  • Volunteering centres represent an important feature of volunteering. They can significantly influence development of volunteering in the location or the region. Their development and sustainability are subject to:
  • Extension of the capacity and number of volunteering centres;
  • Establishment of a sustainable mechanism of funding of volunteering centres;
  • Increase of awareness of regional and local self-governments and non-governmental organisations about the vision, tasks and contributions of volunteering centres;
  • Support to setting up volunteering centres based on inter-sectoral partnerships.
  • Increase the quality of management of volunteering programs in organisations by educating and supervising.
  • Improve the process of recognition of informal education in volunteering in cooperation with universities, employers and organisations.

2. Recommendations in the field of volunteering management

  • When recruiting new volunteers:
  • strategically utilise direct information sources;
  • directly address selected groups of volunteers;
  • combine direct and indirect information sources (ideal combination: enhance information from friends, peers, relatives and information from active volunteers by information on Internet websites on volunteering and about website of the organisation that needs help).
  • When increasing contribution of volunteering for its executors, include procedures of recognition of experience, knowledge and skills collected in volunteering work and find ways that will make it possible to determine what skills, knowledge and abilities were acquired by volunteers in which activity and to what extent.
  • When motivating and rewarding volunteers:
  • Uncover which motivating factors are decisive for particular volunteers and proceed in their further management based on such findings;
  • Apply several methods of rewarding volunteers.

3. In the field of volunteering surveying

  • Currently, also based on results of performed survey, it is possible to identify several particular surveying topics in this field, such as:
  • Informal volunteering as a part of social capital;
  • Specifics of volunteering of selected target groups (youth, elderly people, the unemployed, disabled people, etc.);
  • Volunteering in the field of social services and other areas;
  • Contributions of volunteering to clients of volunteering programs;
  • Contributions of volunteering to specific groups of volunteers – e.g., impact of volunteering on health of the elderly, influence of volunteering on improvement of employability of school graduates;
  • Professionalization of the work with volunteers from the viewpoint of organisations and others.

Further reading: Brozmanová Gregorová, A., Matulayová, T., Mračková, A., Vavrinčíková, L., Vlašičová, J.: Volunteering – When Help Is Fun and Fun Helps. Bratislava: IUVENTA, 2011. ISBN 978-80-8072-118-3

Prepared by: PhDr. Alžbeta Brozmanová Gregorová, PhD.