Volunteer management for young people - potential for cultural institutions

unsplash/Geert Pieters
News I Image: 2023 Nikolaus Schäffler

Volunteer work is very important in the cultural sector. Volunteers assume various functions and responsibilities - in some cases (in clubs or other associations), the work is based exclusively on civic engagement.1) This relevance is sometimes made clear by the number of people involved: in the area of culture and music , around 8.6% of people over the age of 14 in Germany are involved in volunteer work2) - only in the area of sports is the level of engagement even higher.3) Volunteer work thus makes a major contribution to shaping our cultural landscape.

There are numerous personal motives for getting involved in culture: Around 80% of volunteers claim that their activity is primarily fun and enjoyable, followed by the motive of doing something for the common good (around 64%). Other relevant reasons are to help other people (around 61%), to help shape society (around 56%) and to get together with other people (around 49%).4) Looking in particular at the involvement of young people, it can be seen that a total of 82% of currently non-committed people between the ages of 14 and 29 say they would be willing to get involved. So there is untapped potential here for cultural institutions.5)
The various trends and societal changes have a significant impact on cultural institutions; demographic change in particular poses a special challenge here and once again highlights the relevance of volunteering. With strategic volunteer management, cultural institutions can, among other things, reach young target groups, promote low-threshold accessibility, or even expand the range of offerings. At the Konzerthaus Berlin, for example, volunteers offer daily 30-minute tours of the building or prepare students in classrooms for a dress rehearsal.6) Experience in working with volunteers shows that an appreciative approach is a key prerequisite. In addition, the needs of the volunteers are increasingly in the foreground nowadays: flexibility, co-determination, transparency and a democratic organization, as well as compatibility with the individual life situation, are relevant criteria.
In order to create these necessary structures, which offer scope for co-determination and flexible deployment options, the necessary conditions must be created in the first place:

  • The first step is to decide whether and to what extent volunteers should be involved (for example, which areas lend themselves and what kind of activities are suitable). It should be noted that there should be no plans to transfer full-time work to volunteers.

  • Based on the initial decision, the strategic concept can be developed. This should answer the following questions: What is the status quo? What is the vision and what are the goals? What measures are required to achieve the goals?

  • The first two points can then be used to develop engagement offerings, necessary organizational and operational changes, and a targeted communications strategy, including an implementation plan.

At this point, it is also important to point out the influence that politics can exert on the framework conditions for volunteering in Germany. For example, overarching measures, such as the Ehrenamtskarte Hessen, can have a positive impact on volunteerism in a state or region. actori will be happy to support you in jointly designing a strategic volunteerism management and implementing it in your institution.

Sources: 1) Statement of the German Cultural Council on the federal government's engagement strategy, 2) Social area "culture and music" of the German Volunteer Survey 2019, 3) German Volunteer Survey 2019, 4) Data refer to surveyed volunteers in the area of culture and music; Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung (BKJ), Freiwillige Engagierte in Kultur, 5) German Volunteer Survey 2019, 6) https://www.konzerthaus.de/de/ehrenamt.


An impulse contribution by Michaela Herrmann, Consulting.

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