Monday, March 07, 2016

Volunteerism in Georgia between 2013 and 2015: attitudes and practice

Did the 2015 Tbilisi flood affect the level of volunteerism in Georgia? A recent article on volunteerism, based on CRRC’s 2013 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data, argued that the apparent large-scale volunteering efforts following the flood “stirred the hope that volunteerism is on the rise in Georgia”. Based on the soon to be released 2015 CB data, this blog post looks at whether there has been a change in the reported level of volunteering and in the attitudes towards it by settlement type, age and level of education.

CB data from recent years shows that the share of the population of Georgia that thinks volunteering is important for a good citizen has slightly increased. The same is true for the reported level of volunteering. The gap between the two indicators, however, is impressive.

Note: For the question “In your opinion, how important or unimportant is it for a good citizen to do volunteer work meeting the needs of the community without expecting compensation?” only the share of those who chose codes 7 through 10 on a 10 point scale, where code 1 meant “Not important at all” and code 10 meant “Extremely important”, is shown on the charts and analyzed in this blog post. For the question “Which of these activities have you been involved in during the past 6 months? - Did volunteer work without expecting compensation” only the share of those who answered “Yes” is shown on the charts and analyzed in this blog post. 

In some socio-demographic groups, there are small changes in the reported level of volunteering between 2013 and 2015, although these often are within the margin of error. While only 14% of the population of Tbilisi reported doing volunteer work in 2013, 21% did so in 2015. Nationwide, the reported level of volunteering slightly increased in the 18-35 year old age group and among those with higher education, while it stayed the same in other age groups and among those with secondary technical or secondary or lower education.

Note: The answer options for the question, “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” were grouped as follows: options “No primary education”, “Primary education (either complete or incomplete)”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were grouped into “Secondary or lower”. Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education (BA, MA, or specialist degree)”, and “Post-graduate degree” were grouped into “Higher than Secondary”.

Small positive changes can be observed between 2013 and 2015 in reported attitudes towards volunteering in all socio-demographic groups. In 2013, fewer Tbilisi residents thought that volunteering was important for a good citizen compared to other urban and rural dwellers. In 2015, however, the picture reversed. Assessments of the importance of volunteering also changed in the 18-35 year old age group countrywide, increasing from 66% in 2013 to 75% in 2015.

To sum up, although the reported level of volunteering at the national level did not increase after the June 13th Tbilisi flood, there was a small increase in Tbilisi as well as among the young people and those with higher education. Nationwide, the perception that doing volunteer work is important for a good citizen also slightly increased. In many cases though, the increase is within the margin of error. Hence, further observations will be needed to see if the trend continues.

Although a large gap still remains between the reported level of volunteering and the share of the population reporting positive attitudes towards it, the changes presented in this blog post might indicate that volunteering has a chance to become more widespread in Georgia. Notably, some literature on volunteering argues that volunteering in times of crisis creates a sense of community and solidarity, which was apparent among volunteers after the Tbilisi flood. Memories of volunteering could both inspire and serve as an example for Georgian citizens to volunteer more.

To learn more about volunteering in Georgia, take a look at the Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia survey and our previous post on volunteering: Georgian society’s attitudes towards forced “volunteering”.

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