The Significance of Nonformal Education for Volunteers


  • Bjarne Ibsen



Volunteering, non-formal learning, informal learning, types of volunteering


Volunteering plays a significant role in many countries. In an effort to strengthen volunteering, courses and training are given great importance. In this paper, the significance of educational programmes and courses for volunteers is analysed. The analysis is based on data from a comprehensive survey of volunteers in Denmark. One in three of the volunteers have participated in courses or training programmes in conjunction with their voluntary work. The analysis shows that there is a slightly greater probability that volunteers will continue to do voluntary work if—within the past year—they have taken part in a course or training programme related to their voluntary work. The most widespread form of qualification for voluntary tasks is, however, informal learning, that takes place where the volunteer works. The analysis shows that the volunteers attribute less importance to qualifications from courses and programmes than to experiences from “voluntary life” and qualifications from “professional life.” The analysis also shows that non-formal learning is more important for volunteers involved in “activity work” than for those involved in “organization work.” The study gives rise to a discussion of how best to develop and train the voluntary workforce. It may be necessary to focus to a greater extent on informal learning, in other words on developing a culture for learning in the specific context in which the volunteer is involved. Subscribe to JNEL