In September 2022, the European Commission published the 5th Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity. Although the survey results indicated that 38% of European citizens exercise at least once a week or more, 17% exercise less than once a week and 45% never exercise. According to the Commission, this Special Eurobarometer illustrates trends regarding participation levels, obstacles and preferences to practice sport as a basis for future policies, and the results will inform their decision-making and policy-making actions in the field of sport. It is therefore interesting to see what the results in terms of volunteering in sport were.
There was a single question on volunteering in sport (QB21). By volunteering they meant doing any voluntary work or activity for which there was no payment except to cover expenses. That include organising or helping to run events, campaigning or raising money, providing transport or driving, coaching, tuition, mentoring, etc. The question was, do you currently engage, or plan to engage in the next 2 months, in voluntary work that supports sporting activities?
Having the intention to do something or simply stating such an intention can’t be observed or interpreted as actual volunteering. We took a closer look at the number or respondents and the number of those who confirmed that they were already volunteering at the time they were asked the question. As presented in Table 1, 6% of respondents in EU-27 confirmed that they are currently engaged in voluntary work. That number fell under 6% when we observed the data for the countries that are participating in the EVIS project: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain (Table 2). Some of those countries had a higher share of citizens volunteering in the sport sector e.g., 15% in Netherlands, 7% in Germany. The share of Austrian citizens volunteering in sport was equal to the EU-27 average (6%) but above the average of the EU-7 participating in the EVIS project. The other four countries had significantly lower shares of citizens engaged in volunteering in sport, even lower than the average of the EU-7, and in some cases significantly lower: 4% in Croatia, 3% in Spain, 2% in Lithuania, 1% in Greece.
Compared to the results of the Special Eurobarometer 472 (published in 2018, fieldwork in 2017), the share of volunteers in the sample has increased in 6 of 7 countries (lower share was found only in Netherlands – 1% lower). The 2022 survey had only one question related to voluntary work, making it difficult to compare results. Notably, results in 2018 were lower than results in 2014 Eurobarometer.
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A more detailed survey is needed to follow the trends, especially to identify the reason for increased or decreased engagement of citizens in voluntary work in sport. The EVIS project – the project on economic dimension of volunteering in sport – should help with that.