Denmark is one of the countries in the world with the highest ratio of citizens participating regularly in volunteer work. In 2014, a rapport showed that 1.9 million Danes (42 %) over the age of 16 had volunteered within the last 12 months - 70 % of all Danes had volunteered within the last five years.
Danes put in around 365 million volunteer hours every year – that is one million hours per day! On average each Dane does four hours every week – in reality, some people put in a few hours while others put in the equivalent of a full time job or even more. More and more even volunteer in more than one place.
So, it is safe to say that Danes are indeed a volunteering people!
In Denmark there are a number of networks and teams who help internationals and their families settle well in Denmark when coming here.
In January 2019 Volunteering.dk surveyed a number of these professionals about internationals and volunteering. Most of them experience volunteering as a possible gateway to integration and a way to find social and professional networks when you are new to Denmark.
You can read more about internationals and volunteering here.
Volunteering is a big thing in Denmark - even in the Danish business community. If you are or have been engaged in volunteer work you might have an advantage over other candidates when applying for a job in a Danish company. It is a way to stand out in the crowd of applicants.
Danish company leaders, recruitment managers etc. notice it when they see volunteering on a resumé. The general opinion is that volunteering is a testament to your character, morals, and possibly your skills, if your have participated in volunteer work where you have had the opportunity to try out your learned skills in real life. Volunteer work is also a way to demonstrate real life experience - that you have done more than attend educational institutions or work paying jobs. These are the kind of employees many Danish companies are looking for.
You can read more about the value of volunteer work on your résumé here.
The Danish volunteers are a diverse group in age, education, income, and so on. We have gathered some demographic data on the people you meet in Danish associations here.
If you want a network in Denmark, then volunteering is a great place to start, because it is what many Danes do in their spare time. You can build an interesting, social network while volunteering, but, just as important, volunteering might give you a valuable professional network since it often is the socioeconomically advantaged Danes who participate in volunteer work.
Denmark has a long and rich tradition of volunteering and forming unions and associations. Volunteer organisations come in many shapes and sizes. The exact number of Danish volunteer associations is difficult to pinpoint because the definition of the sector is unclear, but one rough estimate is that there are about 68.000 associations in Denmark (other estimations say 100.000 associations).
The organisations in the civic society come in three forms: 1) Associations, 2) self-governing institutions, and 3) foundations.
Read more here.
Among the organisations and initiatives in the Danish volunteer society, you will find a very broad range of purposes, backgrounds, traditions, participants, and so on. Danish associations are diverse:
- More than 50 % focus on culture, leisure activities, or sport
- 14 % concern themselves with education, social services, or health.
- 13 % are local community associations
- 18 % are trade-unions or taking an interest in politics, environment, religion etc.
Read more here.
Volunteering has deep historical roots in Denmark and is a shared cultural foundation between Danes. For over 150 years, the volunteer culture has played a crucial part in forming the current Danish society. Volunteering is closely linked with the Danish citizens’ influence on society and the political agenda. Danes practice democracy in volunteer associations which is an instrumental part of becoming a participating member of the democratic society in general.
Read more here.
The culture you will meet in Danish organisations naturally mimics the general culture in the Danish society. Danes are an autonomous people who value being able to plan their own time. Danes are keen on equal rights, social inclusion, informal atmospheres, collaboration and seeking consensus.
Danes are not big fans of hierarchy or nepotism; Danes values a person’s actions, abilities and values first. Danes love planning and often far into the future but if plans have to change Danes adapt to fit the new reality. If you arrange something with a Dane they expect you to do what you promised because Danes as a default trust that people are true to their word.
You will meet the same in a Danish volunteer association - read more here.
Are you interested in volunteering in a Danish volunteer organisation, you can check out our guide. We have gathered some advice on how to become part of a Danish volunteer organisation and some things you could do to make your volunteer experience succesful and meaningful to you.
Read more in our guide here.
- Preben Astrup's "Frivillighed" - Aarhus University
- Center for Frivilligt Social Arbejde (Danish Institute for Voluntary Effort) (2015): Den frivillige sociale indsats - Frivilligrapporten 2014. Available on: http://frivillighed.dk/publikationer/den-frivillige-sociale-indsatsfrivilligrapport-2014
- Bjarne Ibsen (2014): Kap. 13: Foreninger i Danmark - i samspil med det offentlige. I: Folkestyrets rugekasser - Frivillige foreninger og folkestyre. Böss, M. (red.). Aarhus Universitetsforlag.
- Wulff (2013): Den nødvendige frivillighed - Frivilligt arbejde og sociale organisationer i det 21. århundrede. 1. udg. 1. oplæg. Frydenlund
- EU-Kommissionens analyseinstitut Eurobarometer (2015)