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European Year of Volunteering 2011 - Here we come!
I was invited to join EYV Alliance Working Group last year via Volonteurope, an organisation which is part of CSV’s European department. I am on the Employee Volunteers’ Working Group and we were asked to join the launch of EYV2011 in Budapest, Hungary on 7 January 2011. We were invited to the European Youth Centre Budapest, where Commissioner Reding, of the EU, a hearty supporter of Volunteering in Europe, gave a key note speech on the importance of volunteering and the need to increase volunteers right across Europe. Our WG covered issues on Employee Volunteering such as:-

a) Skills based volunteering vs. non skills based volunteering – is it meaningful to paint a school for the tenth time? Should a bank employee help only in book keeping?

b) How to measure the impact of Employee Volunteering in society? Quantity & Quality

c) The cultural and socio-economical context of EV is very different within Europe. What is the status quo in the 27 nations? What are the limits? Is a common holistic European vision of EV feasible or desirable, or would it be wise to identify only certain aspects of EV with chances of convergence?

d) Legal aspects / Incentives: Should tax breaks for businesses be considered to make employee volunteering programmes more attractive?

The WG’s role is to make recommendations for the Alliance to consider and a report with recommendations will come out of the EU by the year end. It has been of great benefit for me and to meet other European colleagues. I note the differences in practice in running volunteering programmes in Europe, and learn that certain EU states do not have the range of initiatives, opportunities, diversity, projects, policies and experience as we have in the UK! So glad to be BRITISH!

Our WG met again in March and we continued our work on EV with the assistance of’ ‘Expert’ Advisors, who gave excellent presentations on:-

‘The Interaction of Local Employment development and CSR’, by Susan Bird, Policy Co-ordinator, Corporate Social Responsibility, European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and ‘Cross-Sector Partnership : Framework And Tools To Enhance Strategic Csr And Corporate Volunteering’ by Dr. Elena Korf, Programme Manager, The Partnering Initiative International Business Leaders Forum

Our role in the WG is to work on topics given to us to develop and report back. We have 3 further meetings to attend in May, September and December. I will keep you all posted on what is happening on European Volunteering.

By Marion Schumann - March 2011