Volunteering has deep historical roots in Denmark and is a shared cultural foundation between Danes. For more than 150 years, the volunteer culture has played a crucial role 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.  

The great value of associations lies in the fact that people from different backgrounds meet up and work or spend time together - then the unknown becomes known. Volunteering has become an advanced and organised way of socialising and might be one of the reasons why 98 % of all Danes feel safe in general - volunteering makes people less hostile towards each other (as the historian Tocqueville pointed out already in 1835).

Denmark is famed for its high taxes but that is only half the story since most Danes gladly pay their taxes. But why? Because these taxes are the foundation of the Danish welfare system. And a build-in part of Danish welfare is the principle of public education (Folkeoplysning) which supports the economy of volunteer associations and finances e.g. the sports facilities available to the general public.

The intent is to create tolerant and caring communities open to everybody - in associations barriers are broken down between the different society groups. Beyond that the collected taxes are also redistributed through the 'Service Law' which administers funding for voluntary social initiatives like funding shelters for homeless people - the purpose here is to reduce social problems in society.  


Source: Preben Astrup's "Frivillighed" - Aarhus University

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