Good quality: by 2030 the number of volunteers can increase 5 times


The number of volunteers in Russia by 2030 may grow from the current 3.9 to 20.8 million people, experts from the Ministry of Economic Development have calculated. To do this, the state should actively stimulate professional volunteering, when doctors, lawyers, teachers, in addition to their main employment, donate help to charitable foundations and NGOs. Experts believe that the desire to engage in volunteer activities is still expressed by a huge number of people, but often they cannot find application for these desires. Therefore, the state, first of all, should increase the scope of application of the efforts of volunteers: for example, simplify their access to social and medical institutions and create infrastructure – volunteer centers.

Growth Scenarios

Volunteers in Russia by 2030 may number from 11.3 million to 20.7 million people, experts of the Ministry of Economic Development predict. The study reviewed by Izvestia provides three scenarios for the development of volunteering: inertial, socially oriented, and professionally oriented.

In their study, the experts of the Ministry of Economics proceeded from Rosstat data, according to which there were 3.9 million volunteers in Russia in 2021 (data for 2022 should appear in March 2023).

The first, inertial, scenario assumes that the state will adhere to the current level of support for volunteer projects and programs. In this case, the number of volunteers will increase to 11.4 million people in seven years. The most massive areas in 2030, as now, will remain social work, helping animals, landscaping and cleaning the territory.

Photo: RIA Novosti / Svetlana Shevchenko

Under a socially oriented scenario, by 2030 the number of volunteers could reach almost 14 million, the authors of the study note. To do this, the country must not only maintain the existing system of volunteering. The state is required to actively develop it, popularize it, expand the number and variety of projects for volunteers.

Then spontaneous volunteering (social work, helping animals and landscaping) will give way to professional volunteering, that is, such activities will be engaged, for example, by existing or future doctors, lawyers, teachers, environmentalists, social workers, and so on. And they will be about a quarter of all volunteers.

The most rapid growth in the number of volunteers should be in a professionally oriented scenario, the Ministry of Economic Development points out. To do this, the state needs to create conditions for the formation of a system of volunteering as a way of professional development: within the framework of volunteering, professional skills and connections will be acquired.

Volunteer projects, according to this scenario, should be consolidated: a large number of professional volunteer vacancies should appear. With such a development of the situation, by 2030 there will be almost 20.8 million volunteers in Russia, the Ministry of Economic Development has calculated. The number of professional volunteers will be almost 27%.

Are those numbers

Experts interviewed by Izvestia questioned the starting data of Rosstat, on which the calculations of the experts of the Ministry of Economics are based.

“4.5 million volunteers have registered on our platform alone, and a huge number of people participate in volunteer activities in an unorganized way,” said Artem Metelev, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Volunteer Centers, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Youth Policy. – Approximately the same number are those who are not on the platform. We believe that colleagues miscalculate the sector. According to sociological services, one way or another, 17-20% of the Russian population take part in volunteer activities.

Volunteers make a camouflage net for NWO participants

Photo: RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Lyzlova

The low numbers of Rosstat may be due to the fact that a significant proportion of volunteer work in Russia is not institutionalized, says Irina Mersiyanova, director of the Center for Civil Society and Nonprofit Sector Studies at the Higher School of Economics.

“According to the survey data of our center, about half of the volunteers (51%) organized their activities on their own in the last year, and only 8% can say that a public, non-profit organization was the initiator and organizer of their volunteer activity,” she told Izvestia.

This, according to the speaker, indicates a significant gap between people who actually participate in volunteer activities and those who express their readiness to be volunteers in NGOs. In addition, from these data we can conclude that “informal” volunteers have a great potential for involving them in the work of NGOs.

What to do with volunteers

The state is already providing a huge package of support for volunteers, said Yuri Belanovsky, head of the Danilovtsy volunteer movement, co-founder of the School of Social Volunteering. He recalled the compensation for volunteers of expenses spent on their activities, accounting for volunteering when entering universities, as well as when assigning increased scholarships, issuing volunteer cards for free travel in public transport.

“Moreover, many more measures to popularize and stimulate volunteering are being discussed. But the point is not how many volunteers there are, but what they will actually do,” he told Izvestia. “This is a beautiful curve, but it hits a certain ceiling: volunteer spaces are being pumped with energy, and there are not enough places where volunteers can put their efforts.

Thus, according to his data, in the metropolitan region, only 10% of residents of neuropsychiatric boarding schools regularly meet with volunteers, while in other regions this figure may be 2-3% or even 0.

“We need to evaluate the capacity of the system,” he said. – And in the minds of the vast majority of officials, volunteering is planting trees around the school or washing the floor. Therefore, I am afraid that the calculation of the growth in the number of volunteers will remain just a beautiful graph. But everything will sink if there are no jobs.

Photo: Getty Images/Natalia Malkova

Artem Metelev believes that partly in Russia the scenario is already being implemented, which in the study of experts from the Ministry of Economics is called professionally oriented.

— We have the Medical Volunteers movement, which now has 130,000 members on a cumulative total over six years. These are students of medical universities and colleges,” he said. — There is a separate project of volunteer psychologists. There is a movement “Volunteers of Culture”, where students of creative colleges and universities help in cultural projects, restore cultural heritage sites. There is a track and volunteer teachers, which we are implementing with the Ministry of Education. Last year, the Science Volunteers project was launched, where young scientists work.

In his opinion, the sector has already moved away from mass event volunteering, which was popular almost 10 years ago during the Sochi Olympics. In his opinion, it would be more correct to build a scenario for the development of volunteering, based not on the form of participation (professional or not), but taking into account the development of infrastructure to support volunteering.

“People in remote settlements want to do something good, but if a foundation, a volunteer center, an organizer of such activities does not appear nearby, then the desire will remain a desire.

He recalled that at the end of January 2023, Vladimir Putin instructed to ensure the phased creation of Dobro.Tsentr social development centers to involve citizens in charitable and volunteer activities.

“And when we have such centers everywhere, in every settlement, then a person will understand how to realize himself,” said Artem Metelev.

At the same time, he believes that it is not entirely right to rely on professional volunteering, since many people go to volunteers to reset and so that something other than work appears in their lives.


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