From the media and due to the large number of vacancies, the image arises that we are doing less and less volunteer work in the Netherlands. Professor Lucas Meijs has been doing research in this field since the 1990s and refutes this assumption with facts.
Dagblad De Limburger asked Meijs, Professor in Philantrophy and Volunteering at Erasmus University Rotterdam, whether it is true that the high demand for volunteers means that fewer people in our country volunteer. Meijs observes that nowadays about half of the Dutch population is active as a volunteer: that is actually an increase. “The Netherlands has a huge infrastructure for volunteering. There is no shortage, but cut-throat competition”, he states.
“The Netherlands has a huge infrastructure for volunteering. There is no shortage, but cut-throat competition”
Some things have changed over time. For example, the volunteer’s availability has become more important for success. Instead of the organisation’s agenda determining when volunteering takes place, it works better to be flexible about when the volunteer can come and help. Also, constructions in which groups of people help somewhere together for just one day are emerging.
Meijs sees that over the years, the motives for volunteer work remain constant: own norms and values, caring for others and self-development. Only the way the volunteer describes the work changes. Previously, this was mainly ‘dedicating yourself to your fellow man’ and ‘I want to help people’. “Now young people talk more in terms of contributing to sustainability and personal karma: does this volunteer work provide ‘points’ to become a better person?” says Meijs.
In short: the shortage is not the problem, but with knowledge of the theory, organisations could better and more specifically attract volunteers.