Prof. Lucas Meijs wins funds for four Erasmus+ projects

Obtaining one Erasmus+ project grant is already quite something. Two is extraordinary. But Lucas Meijs, professor of strategic philanthropy and volunteering at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has recently acquired funding for four projects that will benefit society both directly and indirectly. Prof. Meijs’ work will bring new knowledge to the field of volunteering; how to teach best practices, encourage volunteering, enhance its impact on sustainability and empower individuals who volunteer against poverty.

Introducing the four projects

Erasmus+ is an EU programme that grants financial support for education, training, youth and sports projects throughout Europe. RSM will be working with the various consortia to accomplish these projects, which total just over €1 million. Right now, and for the next five years, Erasmus+ grants will address social inclusion in a series of service learning projects. All four Erasmus+ projects awarded to Prof. Meijs and his associate, Ivo Geers, a global business and sustainability researcher at Erasmus University and an RSM alumnus, are aimed at improving society through targeted actions.

A learning mechanism for societal empowerment

SLIDE: Servicelearning as a pedagogy to promote inclusion, diversity and digital empowerment 

Service learning is an educational approach that combines hands-on work with theory. Students volunteer with an agency – usually a non-profit or social service – while they study, enabling them to learn, to reflect on the experience in the classroom. The SLIDE project takes the virtual classroom experiences of recent years and connects students to communities at risk. The results of SLIDE are important for both educational innovation and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) strategy of ‘Impact at the core’. Coordinating SLIDE is Antwerp-based University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp (UCSIA).

Becoming more aware of conscious purchasing

VoW: Volunteering for a sustainable World! Increasing volunteering skills for global sustainability through experiences in the European fair-trade sector

Almost by definition, all volunteer work done with more than one organisation is connected to one or more sustainable development goals (SDGs). But by connecting the work of volunteers to even more SDGs, the overall positive impact of the work can improve. In this project, Prof. Meijs and Ivo Geers partner with project lead Altromercato Impresa Sociale out of Bolzano, Italy.

In addition to Altromercato, other partners involved include the Italian national volunteer network and the Oxfam fair trade organisations from AustriaSpain and Belgium. In the Netherlands, the team will partner with the NOV (Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk) to further broaden the impact to more organisationally involved volunteers.

Raising the volunteer management bar in Europe

RSM is the coordinator for the EVI-DEMS: Enhancing Volunteer Impact – Developing European Management Standards project

As this project borders on the main expertise of volunteer management, it hits close to home for Prof. Meijs and his team. Here, volunteer management differs in many aspects from managing paid staff. In public media, most attention is focused on why people volunteer, when, in fact, the focus should be on organisational control. EVI-DEMS will develop a European (post experience) curriculum on volunteer management. This curriculum will include courses that need to be developed and comprise the much-needed documents to professionalise the volunteer management profession.

Improving communities through the buddy system

Empowerment buddyship for poverty alleviation – understanding volunteer mobilisation, training needs and societal added value

Partnering with ArmenTeKort in Antwerp, Belgium for this straightforward two-partyproject, Prof. Meijswill cooperate with ArmenTeKort to teach and encourage volunteers how to strike up new relationships with fellow citizens. This project pairs people from different economic and social backgrounds, so they can learn from one another and improve their overall perspectives and lives. Part of the project aims to establish relationships between the ArmenTeKort and the Rotterdam network Rotterdam Arm-in-Arm against poverty. Prof. Meijs will teach volunteers how to start, grow and maintain these mutually beneficial relationships.

Making a true difference in the world

These four projects are pilot projects. When they prove to be successful, other countries can roll out the projects across their own communities. Lucas Meijs is working to achieve effective volunteering in the world. As can be seen from his past work, the difference is made when effective and well-managed volunteering takes place. This is exactly what Professor Meijs and his team from RSM have set out to achieve as they embark on the four Erasmus+ projects.


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