Volunteering in Portugal

14.06.2013 Blog

The Satellite Account for the Social Economy published last April by the Portuguese National Institute of Statistics includes the results of a survey on volunteer work done in 2012.
Here are some of those results.

1. In 2012, 11.5% of the resident Portuguese population aged 15 years or older participated in, at least, one formal (through an organization) or informal volunteering activity, that is, a total of 1040000 persons and 368.2 millions of hours of work. This is about one half of the average volunteer rate for EU countries.

2. This volunteer work is equivalent to 4.1% of the total employment in Portugal in 2012 measured in terms of the total number of hours worked.

3. Evaluated in terms of its “replacement cost” using the minimum wage, or the “occupational wage”, that is, the wage that would be paid to a person doing the same job as a volunteer, this volunteer work is equivalent to 0.61% or 1.09% of the GDP.

4. Formal volunteer work represents 51.6% of the total volunteer work. Around 90% of this work was done in social economy organizations. For these organizations this is equivalent to 40% of their total employment. This formal volunteer work is distributed as follows by types of organizations according to their main activity:
a. Social services: 42.9%
b. Sports, recreation, arts and culture: 22.9%
c. Religion: 21.7%
d. Environmental protection: 3.5%
e. Education and research: 3.0%
f. Others: 6%. 

5. Non qualified work corresponds to 27.9% of the formal volunteer work and to 24.2% of the informal volunteer work.

6. The volunteer rate is higher among women (12.7%) than among men (10.3%).

7. The volunteer rates are as follows according to age:
a. 25-44 years: 13.1%
b. 45-64 years: 12.7%
c. 15-24 years: 11.6%
d. 65 years or more: 7.3%.

8. The volunteer rates are as follows according to the level of formal education:
a. higher education: 21.3%
b. secondary or post secondary (not higher education): 14.7%
c. third grade: 11.8%
d. second grade: 9%
e. first grade: 7.8%
f. no formal education: 3.5%

9. Volunteer rates don’t differ very much between employed and unemployed:
a. Employed: 12.8%
b. Unemployed: 13.1%
c. Out of the labour force: 9.4%

These results show that volunteering is a very important resource for social economy organizations in Portugal, especially for those providing social services. Given the low volunteer rates by European standards and the positive correlation between the level of formal education and the volunteer rate, there is the possibility for volunteer work to increase substantially in the future.

To learn more about this, the Portuguese Confederation of Volunteering (CPV) set up a working group to carry on the Portuguese version of the European Volunteer Measurement Project (http://evmp.eu). This working group includes the following organizations, besides CPV:
- Academic organizations: the Catholic University of Portugal in Porto and the Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal;
- Public organizations: the National Institute of Statistics, the Statistics and Planning Department of the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the National Council for the Promotion of Volunteering;
- Private organizations: Eugénio de Almeida Foundation (a foundation that has supported several projects to promote volunteering) and the Catholic Scouts.