In a recent Dail debate on Volunteering (Feb 08), Minister Pat Carey, the Junior Minister with responsibility for volunteering, re-affirmed the support of DCRGA for the work of Volunteer Centres Ireland and the volunteer centres that make up the national network. The commitment was also made to support new and emerging centres across counties.

Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if analysis has been completed in relation to the cost of volunteering in Ireland, the training of such volunteers, insurance costs, the retention factor of volunteers and the recruiting of volunteers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Deputy Pat Carey: The report of the task force on active citizenship, which was completed last year, provides research indicators on trends in volunteering over recent years. In comparing the 2002 and 2006 surveys carried out by the ESRI, the report notes that participation in volunteering among Irish people increased from 17% in 2002 to 23% in 2006. Active community involvement is also up from 22% to 29% in the same period. My Department supports a number of organisations that carry out ongoing research and analysis on the volunteer sector in Ireland, such as Volunteer Centres Ireland. Moreover, my Department provides a range of supports for volunteer organisations, including in the area of recruitment, training and core administration costs.

Support for volunteering has steadily increased since a number of measures, amounting to almost €2million, were announced by my Department in March 2005. Following on from this package of measures, my Department has continued to fund a range of initiatives in this area, including providing financial support for the establishment of 16 volunteer centres throughout the country with further centres anticipated in the near future. In the Towards 2016 partnership agreement the Government underlined its commitment to further develop policy in support of volunteering, informed by the recommendations of the task force on active citizenship. The agreement also provided for increased funding of €5 million per annum to support volunteering and this Department is in consultation with a range of stakeholders to ensure the funding is channelled into best practice activities designed to further support volunteerism in Ireland.

volunteers-logo.jpg Volunteer Centres Ireland, with the support of this Department, recently established a national database of statistics and opportunities relating to volunteering in Ireland. This initiative will assist in identifying trends and issues relating to volunteering retention and training needs. I am mindful of the need to periodically review and update the value of the volunteer sector within our communities, and officials in my Department are giving consideration to this matter.

JW: I raised this matter with regard to volunteers on the basis of a committee report. All of the major groups including Alone, Aware, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Glencree, Feis Ceoil, Muintir na Tíre, the Irish Rugby Football Association, the Red Cross and GOAL stated they have major problems with recruiting volunteers. Despite this, the ERSI report states volunteer numbers are increasing.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul stated its volunteer numbers decreased from 24,000 to 8,000. Where are the volunteers mentioned in the ESRI report? Aware has stated that maintaining volunteer commitment was a major concern. Feis Ceoil sought volunteers with skills in specialist areas rather than being approached. However, it found it challenging to find young volunteers. Glencree reported problems of obtaining visas for volunteers. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland stated the number of volunteers in its organisation had decreased from 500 to 200.

According to the Oireachtas committee’s report all of the numbers are falling. What is the difference between this and the ESRI report? People tell me it is hard to find volunteers and this is verified in the committee’s report but not in the ESRI report.

Deputy Pat Carey: Part of the issue is due to the fact that a vast range of voluntary organisations are now in existence. Some of them are much smaller than the large organisations which existed in years gone by. I was in the Leas-Cheann Comhairle’s county town last Friday, when I also visited Carlow and Kilkenny. I met with nine organisations during the course of the day and every one of them were driven by volunteers. I see this everywhere.

I take the point that some organisations find it difficult to retain volunteers. I happened to be in Tralee, County Kerry approximately three weeks ago. I was highly impressed by the pro-active approach the centre there takes to supporting organisations. The volunteer centres I mentioned in my reply will be built on during this year and next year with an additional 12 centres. These are county-based centres and are linked closely to county development boards and other organisations linked to local authorities.

I am confident we will be able to increase the level of voluntary involvement and, more importantly, through support and training will be able to retain volunteers. Part of the problem is that without training many volunteers got burnt out because they are asked to do anything and everything. With the identification of specific tasks for volunteers they are likely to stay in the organisation for a lot longer.

Deputy Jack Wall: The Irish Rugby Football Union claims there will be a missed generation of voluntary administrators. It lists various factors including longer working hours, fewer public holidays than in Europe, increased commuting times and more expensive housing and education. The largest factor is the litigation problem facing many volunteers. Does the Minister of State agree these are problems for clubs seeking volunteers?

Deputy Michael Ring: It is quite simple why people are not volunteering - they are afraid of being sued. Does the Minister of State propose to introduce legislation to protect volunteers from being sued? If a volunteer takes children to a football match on a Saturday or the zoo and an accident happens, the volunteer can be held personally responsible for it. That is one reason that many voluntary groups cannot get individuals involved.

Deputy Pat Carey: I am not sure legislative measures are needed. Among the supports volunteer centres provide are advice on issues such as adequate insurance and governance. We wondered if the vetting of volunteers would have reduced their numbers but it has not. A structure is being put in place to assist the volunteer centres and the organisations which will support the retention of volunteers. If legislative measures are necessary, then they can be examined but I have no immediate proposals to introduce such measures.
24th January 2008

"Giving As Good As You Get"

Carmel Doyle, writing for the Irish Independent outlines how using their skills to make a real difference....can lift employees out of work related ennui. To view the article click here:



What is Give It A Swirl Day?

Volunteer Centres Ireland (VCI) and its member Volunteer Centres are excited to inform you that we are planning the first national day of volunteering that Ireland has ever seen. This national day of volunteering has been named ‘Give it a Swirl Day’ – “Give it a Swirl – Volunteer!” The national campaign will incorporate ‘hands on’ volunteer projects to take place locally around the nation on Wednesday, 26th September 2007.

Who is Organising Give It A Swirl Day?

Give it a Swirl Day is being organised by VCI in conjunction with our twelve member Volunteer Centres, local volunteer development agencies and other interested organisations. VCI is the national body with responsibility for promoting and developing volunteering both locally and nationally, a mandate approved and supported by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Aims of Give It A Swirl Day:

• To promote and raise awareness of volunteering in Ireland
• To create new avenues for people of all ages and from all walks of life to volunteer in their community
• To provide a day of national volunteering which takes place at a local level

Who Can Participate:

Individuals, families, schools, college and university groups, scout groups, businesses, Chambers of Commerce, County Councils, Tidy Town groups, Resident Associations, and any other interested national, regional, county or community groups.

Project Theme:

The theme is 'Community Makeover.'
The project list below contains some ideas for possible projects that you can organise on Give it a Swirl Day. This list is by no means exhaustive. The important thing is that the project includes a ‘hands on’ element so volunteers can get actively involved and see the results at the end of the day. If your County Council, Chamber of Commerce or Voluntary Organisation is interested in hosting a project on the day we ask that you submit your project idea to VCI or your local Volunteer Centre for approval. Project ideas might include:
• Refurbishing or painting a crèche, homeless/refugee shelter, or youth/community centre
• Visit the elderly or complete shopping, gardening, or DIY tasks for the elderly
• Cook and/or serve meals to the homeless
• Landscape a community roundabout, town centre or community centre
• Paint a mural or remove graffiti
• Organise a collection of food, clothes, or toys or to be donated to a chosen charity that works with families in need
• Run a sports/activity day for disadvantaged youth or those with special needs
• Plant trees or native plants in a natural area
• Organise a litter cleanup in a town, natural area or along a waterway or coastline

To register your interest in Give it a Swirl Day please contact VCI at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (01) 799 4519 or visit our website at

“Go on, Give it a Swirl!”

Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs announces Charity Regulation Bill 2007.


1. Purpose of the Bill
2. Statutory definition of “charitable purposes”
3. Advocacy by charities
4. The Charities Regulatory Authority
5. The Register of Charities
6. The Charity Appeals Tribunal
7. Modernisation of fundraising legislation
8. Annual reports, accounts & audits
9. Legal form for charities
10. Relationship with other statutory bodies
11. Charity trustees

Read more: New Charity Regulation Bill

Volunteers and Volunteering Supports Sub-Programme

Volunteering received a welcome boost the with announcement of significant funding in the new National Development Plan. top_logo.gif

Some €197 million will be invested in supporting volunteering activity under this Sub-Programme over the period of the Plan. As stressed in Towards 2016, the Government will continue to develop policies on volunteers and volunteering arising from the package of measures announced in February 2005. Central to this approach is the constructive role of voluntary activity in improving the quality of life in local communities. Policies and schemes in this area will be further informed by the findings of the Taskforce on Active

Under this Sub-Programme the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will take the lead role in progressing the principles underpinning the White Paper on Supporting Voluntary Activity. Schemes will be designed to support, resource and recognise volunteers and volunteering both in terms of funding and capacity. The broad objective is to enable the improvement of the provision of services at the coal face.


Click here to download the full text of the National Development Plan. 

A report on the Public Consultation Process carried out by the Active Citizenship Taskforce is now available.

Please click on the link below to access the report in adobe acrobat format (.pdf)


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