What does the term volunteering comprise?
Volunteering as a publicly beneficial activity is understood as the willingness of a person to invest a part of their time and energy into helping an organisation or an individual without having any friendly or other direct relationship with the receiver of the aid. Volunteering is beneficial for the receiver as well as for the volunteers themselves as they gain new friendships, experiences and competences. Volunteering is also beneficial to the general public.
The work of voluntary fire fighters is an excellent example of mutually beneficial volunteering which is also of great help to the wider public. Voluntary fire fighters collaborate on cleaning away the aftermath of floods and other natural disasters, such as ecological accidents, and they also help with preventing fires and other undesired events.
Most volunteers work for non-governmental nonprofit organisations which after 1989, in addition to restoration of their activities, promote volunteering as one of the civil virtues that is considered a matter of course in many countries of the world.
At present, the biggest numbers of new volunteers are engaged in the fields of ecology, humanitarian aid and human rights, in social and medical facilities and in the spheres of culture, sport, education and work with children and youth.
Why become a volunteer?
The motivation for becoming a volunteer may vary. According to the research done by the Hestia National Volunteer Centre in 2010, the most frequent motivation is the pleasant free-time activity, the self-realisation or the opportunity to make use of personal competences.
There is also a significant international element in volunteering. For many people, it can be a chance to closely explore the hosting country, its culture, improve their language skills and thus gain valuable experience for future life and work.
The image of volunteer work as an undertaking, duty or a generous gift traditionally rooted in the CR is fortunately fading away now. Volunteering and organisations dedicated to these activities have been fully developing in the CR since the 1990s. The Czech Republic also cooperates with the global United Nations Volunteers (UNV) organisation, which facilitates Czech volunteers to help all over the world.
How to become a volunteer?
Volunteering within nonprofit organisations is a common practice in the CR but the already mentioned corporate volunteering is also becoming increasingly popular. There are many companies and platforms that aim to participate in these activities. In general terms, volunteering in the CR has seen a gradual increase of actively participating people. Sadly, the number of people and regions in need is growing as well.
There are volunteer centres in the CR that focus on volunteering management and cooperate with other nonprofit organisations with the aim to involve as many people as possible in solving the problems of the society, as well as to provide useful information about volunteer activities in the given region. You will find more information about volunteering, where and how you can become a volunteer at www.dobrovolnik.cz
European Year of Volunteering 2011
In November 2009, the Education, Youth and Culture Council designated the year 2011 as the “European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship” and it has determined the four following objectives:
Creating an environment that encourages volunteering;
Providing organisers with means to improve the quality of voluntary activities;
Developing the recognition of voluntary activities;
Raising awareness of the importance of volunteering.
The outputs of that year include improving the www.dobrovolnik.cz
website, publishing the “Dobrovolníci mění svět” (“Volunteers Change the World” – available for download at the website) collection of good practice examples, organising two international conferences targeted at cross-border volunteering, sharing the objectives of the European Year of Volunteering within Central Europe, and a significant increase in media appearances (TV and radio spots, articles, interviews).