Publication type: Conference paper
Type of review: Peer review (abstract)
Title: Socio-demographic characteristics of informal volunteers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland : a representative study
Authors: Liberatore, Florian
Schmelzer, Sarah
Berger, Sina
Janosik, Veronika
Stahl, Johanna
et. al: No
Conference details: 22nd EURAM Annual Conference, Winterthur, Switzerland, 15-17 June 2022
Issue Date: 2022
Language: English
Subjects: Covid-19 pandemic; Crisis volunteering; Volunteer; Informal volunteering
Subject (DDC): 361: Social work and welfare
Abstract: Background: Volunteering generates social capital and contributes to social cohesion. While it is an invaluable resource in crisis situations, volunteers who react spontaneously to a crisis and want to help are either not used efficiently or even excluded, even if otherwise effective crisis management is in place. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again shown the value of volunteers. However, it has also shown that we need a better understanding of the societal potential for informal volunteering and its mobilization during pandemic situations. Study Objectives: This paper compares the characteristics of informal volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland with the characteristics of informal volunteers according to the current state of research about informal crisis volunteering. It analyzes the differences between the socio-demographic characteristics of volunteers involved in COVID-19-related volunteer activities and those of volunteers in non-COVID-19 related volunteer activities. Methods: Descriptive analysis of data, from the COVID-19 Social Monitor, a representative survey of the Swiss population by the Winterthur Institute of Health Economics of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which was set up to monitor the experiences and behavior of the Swiss population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer-related questions were asked during the fourth wave, seven weeks after the lockdown in Switzerland (April/May 2020). Results: The sociodemographic characteristics of informal volunteers in Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic were found to be mainly in line with characteristics of informal volunteers in other contexts and countries. Informal volunteers whose engagement has been COVID-19 related are mainly women aged 40-59 years. Most of them have at least a secondary level education and are employed or self-employed. Two-thirds reported having no children. Significant differences can be found between age groups. Informal volunteers aged 60-79 years are underrepresented. Research Proposition: Our findings concerning the socio-demographic characteristics of informal volunteers can be used to mobilize volunteers more efficiently and improve informal volunteering support during a pandemic. In particular, volunteers above the age of 60 or 65, who are more at risk of serious infection, and parents involved in childcare should not be counted on to volunteer in similar crisis situations. Consequently, health-related crisis volunteering must rely on other segments of the adult civil population.
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): Licence according to publishing contract
Departement: School of Management and Law
Organisational Unit: Winterthur Institute of Health Economics (WIG)
Appears in collections:Publikationen School of Management and Law

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