What is the European Volunteering Capital?

It all started in 2013, when the Brussels Centre for European Volunteering (CEV), which has been supporting volunteering since 1992, launched the European Volunteering Capital competition. The idea behind it to promote and develop volunteering at the local level. The former Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, welcomed the initiative. CEV succeeded in demonstrating strong cross-border volunteering in Europe through continuous support. Thus the #EVCapital (European Volunteering Capital) is a Europe-wide, open competition that aims to promote volunteering at the local level. CEV recognises municipalities that strengthen, celebrate and promote volunteering and the impact of volunteers. For example, by supporting partnerships with volunteer centers and organizations.


Berlin Skyline with Sunset in the Background © Jonas Tebbe (Unsplash)

All European municipalities can participate. The winning municipality will be selected from the candidates by an international jury composed of well-known personalities associated with volunteering and representing civil society, the private for-profit sector, and the EU institutions.

The award is selected from among the applying municipalities by an international jury of experts, subject to certain criteria and requirements. 

(more: https://www.europeanvolunteercentre.org/).

The announcement of the next European Volunteering Capital takes place every year in December around the International Volunteer Day at the closing ceremony of the incumbent EVCapital. The title will be used to raise awareness of volunteering and volunteer-relatedactivities at local, national, regional, and EU level.

This is how it came about that the title was officially handed over to Berlin by the Volunteer Capital Padua in Italy on 5 December 2020, on International Volunteer Day.

As the European Volunteering Capital 2021, Berlin stood for freedom, tolerance, and solidarity. The foundations for the stability of our democratic values were and still are an active, critical and, defensible civil society and a policy that supports it.

This fundamental idea of a democratic community was the basis for all activities in the Year of Action 2021. These were challenging times, but they made it clearer than ever what a central place volunteering has in people's lives. Either because they volunteered themselves or because they experienced community, togetherness, appreciation, and joy through the volunteering of others. Thus, the motto of the campaign year #EntdeckeDasWirInDir (DiscoverTheWeInYou) is both an encouragement and a reminder. We made common cause.

Our goals for this year were ambitious:

1. We wanted to use the Year to encourage more Berliners to get involved in volunteering and to lower the barriers to getting involved.

2. We wanted to give visibility to people and groups who are very committed but hardly noticed by the public. We achieved this, for example, by creating portraits of many committed people. We also created networking, training and exchange opportunities for committed people within and outside our fields of action. An impulse paper on "Change in Commitment and Commitment in Transition" provides a good overview of the challenges facing committed people in the current era and how they are dealing with them.

3. In times of threats to democracy, we also set impulses beyond the city to make lived democracy and voluntary engagement visible and to exchange with supra-regional actors. This was done, for example, through the international Study Visit.


Adrien Aletti (Unsplash)

The European Volunteering Capital 2022 is Gdańsk (Gdansk) in Poland, barely 500km from Berlin. A team from the Gdańsk Volunteering Capital had visited us in September 2021 and then for the baton handover in December and the closing event of the 2021 campaign year. In an interview we had the opportunity to learn more about the Volunteer Capital Gdańsk 2022 and its plans.