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Volunteer Management from a European Perspective

German Academy for Volunteering hosts third meeting of Common Box project
8th – 10th July 2014

In the context of ‘The Common Box’ project, the German Academy for Volunteering welcomed their partner organisations from France, Italy and England to take part in a three day seminar in Berlin about volunteer management. The project, funded by GRUNDTVIG, aims to find examples for best-practice, learn from each other, to support European networking and to improve quality in the area of volunteering. GRUNDTVIG is part of the European Union’s program for life long learning.

The visitors from Itinéraire International (France), Centro Savonese die Servizi per il Voluntariato (CESAVO – Italy) and Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre (England) intensely exchanged their experiences in volunteer management with the host organisation. In doing so the participants discussed the different views on volunteer management as well as its opportunities and limits. Interestingly there were big differences regarding the development of volunteer management within each country. Whilst England has already established a well working volunteer management for years, France is still at the very beginning of this process. Based on these insights, different starting points for new cooperation projects have arisen between the four project partners.

On the second day of the network meeting the participants got to know a best practice example at Lebenshilfe Berlin. Volunteer Manager Tanja Weisslein reported on her daily work and initiated several discussions about potential cooperations between Germany and Italy in the work with people with disabilities. Also the idea to motivate people with disabilities to be volunteers themselves was new for many participants and a matter of particular interest to them. On the last seminar day the project partners discussed a concrete method of volunteer management thanks to a Guest Speaker Stefanie Beerbaum. Beerbaum, head of the Volunteer Centre “Sternenfischer”, who presented the so called “Market place method”, with which volunteer organisations can approach companies in order to set up supporting systems for their organisations. The participants from Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre reported on their experiences as they have already established similar methods in London. As a result of this, a discussion ensued on how these methods could be applied in France and Italy.

The visit in Berlin was one of four meetings among the Common Box partners. A reunion is planned in winter in Grenoble, France and later in Italy in 2014, where the Project will conclude. All four partners are members of Volonteurope, a network which supports voluntary action across the European Union.

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