WHY TO BE ACTIVE IN VOLUNTEERING IN SPORT?
Designed to provide inspiration and motivation to national associations, political leaders and volunteer service managers, the EuroVolNet Tutorial has been launched recently as the final product of the EuroVolNet project.
ISCA Vice President, Herbert Hartmann, is providing his input to the tutorial (questions are indeed from the tutorial).
# The European Year 2011 had been dedicated to the topic of “Volunteering”. Why is this general topic both of high relevance and a challenge for organised sport, particularly for grass-root sport?
Herbert Hartmann: "In most European countries the sport sector (especially in grass-root sports) relies heavily on volunteer engagement. 35 mill. European citizens volunteer in sport!
Volunteers in sport dedicate 4 to 5 hours per week to their organisations. This represents a significant social and economic contribution to the wealth of European societies.
Volunteers are multi-billion donors. We can estimate that volunteers create an annual financial value of € 10 billion in France, € 7 billion in Germany, € 5,3 billion in the Netherlands."
# As organised sport is the largest sector of volunteer engagement and the volunteer work in sport seems to be in good form, why is it necessary to dedicate a particular transnational project such as EuroVolNet to this topic?
HH:"Indeed many sport organisations take care actively to recruit, retain and educate volunteers in special programs. A German study (2010) pointed out that 69% of DOSB members assess this issue as high or very high important and 56% pursue a particular strategy to enhance volunteering.
But on the other hand we’ve also to admit many deficits:
-There is a rather big difference within European countries in regard to volunteering involvement in sport, recognition and the management of volunteers in sport.
-The support from the governmental sector is often rather weak.
-We often observe a mismatch between expectations of today’s volunteers and what hosting organisations can offer.
-Education and training of volunteers often seem not to be sufficient enough.
-And we still need to identify and highlight a lack of clear and consistent policy on volunteering in many sport organisations."
# Very often sport organisation and club leaders complain about a lack of volunteers. How do you see this problem?
HH: "A German study (Breuer 2011) pointed out that the lack of volunteers is the biggest issue for sport-club management in Germany.
Furthermore another study (Braun 2011) highlighted that the number of volunteers active in sports is decreasing. Within 5 years (2004 – 2009) organised sport in Germany lost 650.000 volunteers. Fact is that the situation is even more challenging because the loss in the sector of volunteers in leading positions was much higher than in executive functions.
Therefore complains about a shortage of volunteers in sport seem to be justified."
The EuroVolNet Tutorial can be found here>>>.
# What may be the reasons for this decrease and the lack of volunteers in sport?
HH:"The reasons are diverse and different. The change of values in our societies from social, community oriented attitudes to individualistic, hedonistic attitudes offers a general background.
But I suspect some more concrete reasons, e.g.
-The social values of volunteering are not enough recognised in our societies.
-The individual benefits (learning outcomes) of volunteering are not well-known.
-Opportunities and preconditions for volunteering in sport are not enough promoted.
-The demands for voluntary work have expanded and increased and keep changing: higher quality demands from customers (commercial concurrence); more time exhausting; regulations have become more complex and differentiated; more political and strategic understanding is demanded; the club philosophy has often changed from a conviction community to a service provider.
Such changes in voluntary functions often prevent volunteer engagement."
# According to you, we shall therefore challenge sport organisations to put high attention to the topic of volunteering. What are in your opinion the main fields of action for a sport organisation to improve the situation?
HH: "I see 3 main fields for consideration:
- Retaining (validation and recognition)."
# Finally, do you personally believe that organised sport can overcome the weakness in volunteering?
HH:"I’m optimistic! More and more organised sport become aware and active. The EuroVolNet project is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge, experience and expertise on a transnational level. I hope, partners and moreover users of the EuroVolNet tutorial will benefit from our work.
And last but not least I’m optimistic because the potential to recruit more volunteers in sport, who are not yet involved in volunteering is increasing. The willingness of sport people not yet involved in volunteering but willing or probably willing to become a engaged in voluneering in sports has been increasing those last ten years (1999 – 2009) about 15% (Braun 2011, 39). To make use of this high potential is a big chance and challenge!"
The EuroVolNet Tutorial can be found here>>>.