What is the voluntary movement?

“Volunteering is an unpaid activity, based on the ideas of altruistic service to a humanitarian cause; it is not-for-profit and as such, volunteers receive no pay and do not use volunteering to advance their careers; it allows volunteers to fulfil their own personal and social needs through helping others.”

  • The term “voluntary work” implies the following:
  • The volunteer gives a service to society
  • The volunteer receives a sense of moral satisfaction from their work, but no financial compensation
  • The volunteer is motivated by their own moral fulfilment

The idea of volunteering is deeply ingrained into Russian culture and has existed for a long time. Traditionally, Russians were brought up on Orthodox ideals of morality and ethics, which encourage people to help those in need.
The Soviet period brought the Komsomol and Pioneer movements, in which children and adults worked for the good of society. Participation in these groups was compulsory, and so many people had a distorted view of what volunteering really meant.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, these movements were disbanded. People began to think more about personal gain and forgot about working to help others.
At the end of the last century, there were about 20,000 voluntary organisations in Russia. According to studies, one in four Russians who have never done any voluntary work would like to try it.
Today in Russia volunteering is understood in a new light. Increasingly, people are showing social awareness. Young Russians devote their time to helping orphans and disabled people, as well as to cleaning the city and giving blood.
What motivates people to work for free?
According to one study, people who work voluntarily gave the following reasons:

  • 61% want to help people in need
  • 46% hope to learn something new
  • 41% want to get involved in some kind of activity
  • 31% do it for their own pleasure
  • 29% want to meet new people
  • 11% want to give something back to society
  • 7% want to fight social ills
  • 4% do it to fill their free time

From the results of this survey, it is clear that the strongest motivators for taking part in voluntary work are as follows: a desire to learn new things, to widen one’s circle of society, and to help people in need. In other words, voluntary work can give volunteers a sense of self-fulfilment, help them pursue their personal goals, and allow them to meet new people.
A few statistics (from 1997)
Eight out of ten people say that were motivated to volunteer by strong feelings of sympathy for people in need. Over three quarters of those surveyed were interested in the specific tasks of their voluntary project. Around 70% of volunteers take part in voluntary projects to broaden their horizons with regard to life, people and work.
19% of the adult population of France have taken part in at least one voluntary project. Of those, 60% regularly take part in voluntary work because they feel a great desire to help others.
One in three Germans – that is, 34% of the German population – devotes more than 15 hours a month to working in voluntary associations, projects, and aid groups. 65% of the population sees volunteering as a unique opportunity for gaining knowledge and experience. 26% of Japanese people have volunteered in the past. Of these, 48% feel certain that voluntary work aids personal growth and society as a whole. Around 33% of the Irish population do volunteering work. The total amount of time spent on voluntary work comes to 96,454 hours a year. 72% of the population think that volunteers do work that could never be done by paid workers.