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Active ageingVoluntary work by older people in Europe$

Andrea Principi, Per H. Jensen, and Giovanni Lamura

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447307204

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447307204.001.0001

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Introduction: Enhancing Volunteering in later Life in Europe

Introduction: Enhancing Volunteering in later Life in Europe

(p.3) ONE Introduction: Enhancing Volunteering in later Life in Europe
Active ageing

Per H. Jensen

Andrea Principi

Policy Press

Abstract and Keywords

The introductory chapter describes how ideas about active ageing are interlinked with the efforts to promote and sustain volunteering by older people, and the authors present the overall analytical framework for the whole book. It is argued that voluntary work by seniors is conditioned by factors at the micro, meso, macro and structural levels of society. Central concepts are defined (e.g. what is voluntary work?), and major research questions and the methodology of the book are accounted for.

Keywords:   active ageing, welfare systems, philanthropic, self-expressive, volunteering


‘Active ageing’ is a relatively new concept formulated in the 1990s on the basis of work carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and subsequently adopted by the European Union (EU) (Walker and Maltby, 2012). Use of this concept has become pervasive, especially in the EU, as a response to the ageing of the population, and to some degree as a result of shifts in the economic and demographic prospects for the future. The idea and concept of active ageing bears some resemblance to the concept of ‘active society’, that is, a society in which participation in paid employment is the norm for most social groups (Walters, 1997; Jensen and Pfau-Effinger, 2005). The emergence of such ideas and concepts represents a shift from a more passive to a more active citizenship, where paid work is the main route to social inclusion, and where individuals are expected to be autonomous, self-reliant, self-responsible, flexible and able to create their biography individually, continuously adapting to changing external conditions with the consequent individualisation of social risks (Beck, 1986; Sennett, 1998; Esping-Andersen et al, 2002).

The concepts of active ageing and active society, however, are not synonymous. Thus, from the perspective of an active society, the focus in relation to demographic change would be on increasing the employment rates of older workers through pension reforms that promote late exit from the labour market (cf Ebbinghaus, 2006, 2011; Immergut et al, 2007; Hofäcker, 2010; Palier, 2010). By contrast, active ageing is a broader concept, referring to a society where older adults are expected to be active beyond their participation in the labour market (Walker, 2002, 2006). In this sense, it is not solely about making older people work longer in paid employment, (p.4) but also about a society with active older adults. The meaning of active ageing, as a concept that somehow extends beyond the labour market, is clear from the comprehensive definition of active ageing suggested by WHO, according to which it can be defined as a process ‘of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age’ (WHO, 2002, p 12). This definition emphasises good health, participation and inclusion of older people in the social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic areas of life. Similarly, the EU defines active ageing efforts as measures that help older people to ‘keep playing an active role in society and live as healthy, independent and fulfilling lives as possible’ (2011/413/EU). As such, active ageing is an umbrella concept encompassing various paid and unpaid activities, including volunteering and community work.

International organisations and policy makers are not the only ones to consider voluntary work important; it also appeals broadly to European citizens, among whom about 60 per cent consider volunteering an important activity in their life (Eurobarometer, 2005), and over 20 per cent of whom participate in voluntary and charitable activities (McCloughan et al, 2011). As to volunteering in older age, nearly 80 per cent of European citizens ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ recognise that older people make a major contribution to society as volunteers (Eurobarometer, 2009). It has actually been argued that older inactive adults hold considerable volunteer potential, as volunteering ‘is one of the possible ways for people to remain active as they age’ (Walker, 2011, p 45), while at the same time the activation of older adults in the voluntary sector supposedly benefits both society and the individual (Leopoldina, 2010). On the one hand, voluntary work allows older adults to remain active, enjoying social recognition and integration which contributes to their physical, social and mental well-being throughout their lives, while on the other, the engagement of older adults in voluntary activities such as social care, recreational and local community work, would meet social needs and thus be beneficial to society (Walker, 2002, p 133).

The need to encourage older people to take an active role in the voluntary sector has been extensively debated for decades in the US. In Europe, the issue has been less discussed and practised, however, and coherent strategies aimed at activating older adults in the voluntary sector hardly exist (Principi et al, 2012a). In recent years, however, the interest in active involvement of older people in volunteering has grown, and this is demonstrated by the establishment of the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity that followed the 2011 EU Year of Volunteering. Moreover, the European (p.5) Older People's Platform (AGE) is striving to promote volunteering of older people to the largest possible extent (AGE, 2007). In summary, the activation of older adults in voluntary work, brought about by both a shift in the age structure of the population and a stronger awareness of the increasing potentialities of later life, is gaining prominence in European political and scientific discourses.

Aim of this Book

As with most new ideas, active ageing in relation to formal voluntary activities presents both new promises and demands. On the one hand, it is expected that voluntary organisations will offer new participatory opportunities for older adults. That is, active ageing holds the promise that older adults can participate in voluntary organisations for as long as they are able to and wish to do so. On the other hand, it is expected (or demanded) from older retired adults that they actively engage themselves in civil society activities. Volunteering may thus be seen as the antidote to retirement being perceived as an exit from roles and relationships, as propagated by earlier theories of ‘disengagement’ (Cumming and Henry, 1961). Rather, it may tie in with the idea of active citizenship, in which activity is conceived as being the most important medium for bringing people into contact with one another, and as one of the main sources of human identity. In other words, it is expected that the formation of active ageing opportunities may contribute to the creation of new identities, new dispositions and new practices among senior citizens (Sennett, 1998; Bauman, 2003; Honneth, 2003).

It is not self-evident, however, that all of the promises emerging from the active ageing debate will be fulfilled, as many expectations may be highly unrealistic. There is often a considerable distance between ideas and actions, and recommendations seldom have a direct and immediate impact on social behaviour. We don't know, for instance, whether voluntary organisations are actually attractive to older adults, or whether they are willing to recruit older volunteers. It is thus unsure whether a greater supply of older volunteers will be met by a greater demand, which will certainly not be the case in as much as voluntary organisations are structured according to entrenched notions of chronological age.

Even if empirical findings on this issue are now increasing, mainly thanks to the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) (see, for example, Erlinghagen and Hank, 2006) and to other recent large-scale projects funded by the European Commission (p.6) (for instance, the Activating Senior Potential in Ageing Europe, ASPA project, see www.aspa-eu.com ), there are hardly any in-depth studies about volunteering in old age in Europe, in contrast to the vast amount of information on this topic from the US, Canada and Australia in particular (see Fischer and Schaffer, 1993; Morrow-Howell et al, 2001; Gottlieb, 2002; Warburton and Cordingley, 2004). These studies demonstrate some basic differences between the European and US context with regard to volunteering in older age, such as the fact that older US citizens usually volunteer through institutional (that is, federal and/or state-based) programmes, so that US organisations normally have less ‘decisional power’ on volunteers' ages, while European organisations habitually ‘exist’ regardless of such programmes, and are therefore freer to decide on their own about (age) recruitment/retainment/management strategies (Principi et al, 2012b). It must also be noted that US studies on volunteering seem to focus mainly on concepts such as ‘successful ageing’ (Walker and Maltby, 2012) and ‘productive ageing’ (Fischer and Schaffer, 1993, p 6; Morrow-Howell et al, 2001), rather than on the WHO approach based on active ageing.

However, the available studies do not provide detailed analytical information on whether and how new ideas and concepts such as active aging have an impact on Europe's national welfare systems, voluntary organisations, policies as well as on older citizens' orientations. That is, we don't know how the recent discourse about active ageing has had an influence on different societal levels such as the individual, voluntary organisations, policies and cultural values and belief systems. We therefore urgently need European-wide information in this area in order to be able to assess the factors that promote and inhibit volunteering in older age.

Using the international discourse about active ageing as an overall frame of reference, the purpose of this book is therefore to contribute to a deeper understanding of the inclusion/exclusion of older people in the formal voluntary sector in different European countries, through an analysis of the factors that condition their formal voluntary activities at the micro, meso, macro and structural levels.

At the micro or individual level, active ageing is associated with the idea that the roles that the growing number of older adults assume in society are changing. Older people's civic commitment is supposedly increasing, and it is expected that older people will take advantage of voluntary work opportunities, as this in turn has a positive impact on their well-being and personal growth. Active ageing thus represents a departure from notions about inactivity in old age as the norm, (p.7) epitomised in earlier disengagement theories arguing that older people inevitably withdraw from society and experience a loss of role and social exclusion, often described as the ‘pension shock’ (Cumming and Henry, 1961; Daatland and Solem, 2011). Rather, active ageing is more in line with activity and continuity theories (Havighurst, 1961; Atchley, 1989), arguing that older adults will strive to the greatest possible extent (that is, in the face of health and physical limitations) to maintain or improve their previous lifestyle and status after retirement. In other words, it is hypothesised that older people themselves wish to remain active for as long as possible. Like the rest of the population, however, older adults do not form a homogeneous group, and the probability of working as a volunteer in older age may be associated with educational background, class position, income level and health conditions (Walker, 2011, p 45). Furthermore, we can expect that the character of voluntary engagement will vary among different age groups, due to diverse dispositions and motivations. With regard to the latter, it is possible, for instance, to distinguish between philanthropic voluntary work, such as contributing to the classical welfare provision against social risks (for example, poverty, homelessness, sickness and so on), and more self-oriented or self-expressive voluntary work, targeted towards cultural, recreational and other activities that do not necessarily address the needs of others (Barker, 1993, p 28; Sivesind et al, 2002). Contrary to what usually happens among younger people, it may be expected that older adults will be more inclined to enrol in philanthropic, rather than self-oriented or self-expressive, kinds of voluntary work, since they participate in particular in humanitarian and religious activities (Daatland and Solem, 2011, p 216). While a considerable body of US studies focusing on this micro level is available, much less is known about the actual pattern and preferences of older Europeans with regard to voluntary work.

At the meso level, the level of voluntary organisations, active ageing is associated with the idea that older people in the future will play a key role in many voluntary organisations. Whether this will actually be true or not may depend on whether the prevailing approaches of voluntary organisations will match the abilities, wishes and dispositions of older adults, and several factors may determine the inclusivity of voluntary organisations towards older people. First, some types of voluntary work might suit older people better than others. Organisations engaged in philanthropic voluntary work seem to be better able to meet older adults' individual needs and aspirations compared to organisations engaged in more self-centred or self-expressive kinds of voluntary work. For the prospects and potential of current older workers' future (p.8) enrolment in voluntary organisations, it is worth mentioning that voluntary work most probably is on the verge of changing from being mainly based on philanthropy to moving towards a kind of work based more on citizens' wish for self-expression (Jensen et al, 2009, p 9). Second, the composition of and the atmosphere in a voluntary organisation may prevent older adults from being or remaining active. Older adults may feel uncomfortable if a voluntary organisation is primarily composed of younger people, as prejudices and/or indirect or direct discrimination towards older people, which is the antithesis of active ageing, may occur. Since a voluntary organisation may prefer younger rather than older volunteers, the character of voluntary organisations may thus be closed or open. Open organisations ‘do not deny participation to anyone who wishes to join and is actually in a position to do so’, while closed organisations are organisations in which ‘participation of certain persons is excluded, limited, or subjected to conditions’ (Weber, 1978, p 43). In other words, older adults may experience social exclusion due to the attribution of specific characteristics to older age. Third, the enrolment of older people into voluntary organisations may depend on the organisation's awareness and active appreciation of older volunteers, which in turn may call for the organisations to engage in pro-active age management strategies and measures. Parallel to commercial organisations, age management may be important for recruiting and retaining older adults in voluntary organisations, encompassing the traditional pillars in labour market praxis such as recruitment, training and flexible working practices (Walker, 1998, 2005; Walker and Taylor, 1999). At the meso level, however, very little is known about the strategies of voluntary organisation and their attitudes towards older adults.

At the macro level, that is, at the institutional and policy level, active ageing is closely related to a change in the perception of voluntary work. With regards to the altruistic type of volunteering, in the heyday of welfare capitalism, voluntary work was often portrayed as an amateurish and insufficient way of meeting social needs (Salamon, 1995). Permanent austerity and demographic change has, however, led to a change in the institutional perception of voluntary organisations. As a welfare-producing entity, voluntary work has increasingly been seen as a possible solution to economic and demographic challenges in several European countries (Beck, 2000). Ideas about voluntary organisations as a new kind of safety net towards social risks have led to a new definition of the role of the welfare state and of welfare policies. To pursue active ageing strategies, the welfare state is supposed to assume a new role as enabler and facilitator in the formation of (p.9) new public–private partnerships (Walker, 2006, p 86), downplaying ideology and class as constitutive elements in social policy (Henriksen et al, 2012). Of course, these new visions imply a revision of policies and practices, that new approaches to governance are developed, and that voluntary organisations develop into a so-called ‘social enterprise model’.

In connection to this, national governments are increasingly expected to change their perception of older people becoming more aware of their potentially relevant societal contribution, and thus considering them an important resource for society rather than only as a group of vulnerable and sick people to be protected. In light of this, active ageing calls for policy makers to encourage volunteering among older adults as well as encouraging voluntary organisations to recruit and retain older people. Despite the growing awareness that important changes in policies are needed to achieve changes in the behaviour of organisations and older adults if active ageing as a political slogan is to be turned into practice, very little is known about how national policies really stimulate the supply of and demand for older volunteers, or what factors may be responsible for the enrolment of older adults into voluntary work.

Ideas about active ageing have been developed at an international level and call for an integrated approach across European countries. It is more or less expected that it is transferable across different social structures and welfare systems. We cannot, however, a priori presume that identical policies are accorded the same meaning and will produce the same outcomes in different welfare systems. Welfare policies are embedded in a national context of cultural values, ideals and belief systems which mark the extent to which state intervention is most adequate, how welfare should ideally be provided and so on (Pfau-Effinger, 1999). The welfare regime approach originally suggested by Esping-Andersen (1990, 1996), and later integrated by the contribution of several scholars (Lewis, 1992; Anttonen and Sipilä, 1996; Ferrera, 1996; Pfau-Effinger, 1999; Manning, 2004), argues that the differences between welfare regimes (that is, between social democratic, conservative, liberal, Mediterranean and post-Communist welfare regimes) are based on variations in the ‘basic principles’ on which welfare state policies are founded, for example, in relation to solidarity, equality, the role of the state versus the market, of the family within the care system and the related (un)willingness of populations to engage in voluntary work. Accordingly, the extent and nature of voluntary work differ from one national welfare system to another. In some countries, charitable help to people in need predominates, (p.10) whereas it is self-expressive kinds of voluntary work that outweighs in other countries, all this being related to different interactive processes and linkages between the state, the family, the labour market and the voluntary sector. This type of interaction is common knowledge. It has been argued, for instance, that comprehensive public social services tend to destroy intermediate institutions and crowd out voluntary work opportunities (Rostow, 1960; Fukuyama, 1995), while a lack of public service provision might foster non-profit organisations to replace the lack of public services (Weisbrod, 1977), but at the same time also reduce the probability of volunteering at the individual level, as care obligations lessen the time available for voluntary work (Marks, 1977).

While some empirical evidence on the characteristics of the third sector and the involvement of older people in volunteering already exists (Salamon and Anheier, 1998; Warburton and Jeppsson Grassman, 2011), in-depth comparative knowledge as to how institutions, policies and processes influence the involvement of older adults in voluntary organisations remains rather rudimentary, and promising practices that can be transferred from one national welfare system to another are far from being clearly identified.

Research Questions

As volunteering by older adults is a highly complex phenomenon, no single causal factor can explain the patterns of voluntary work among older people. This book therefore seeks to account for the interaction and complexity of factors that condition the involvement of older adults in voluntary organisations, to identify the current characteristics and future prospects of volunteering by older people, and to search for answers to the following main research questions at four distinct levels:

  • Micro or individual level: what are older adults' motivations for and preferences towards voluntary work?

  • Meso or organisational level: what are the opportunities and restrictions for older people's volunteering? In this respect, how do interactions take place between major institutions in society (family, public, private and voluntary organisations)?

  • Macro or policy level: what policies have been established to strengthen the role of older people in society through volunteering and to improve the match between the ‘supply’ of older volunteers and the ‘demand’ of voluntary organisations? (p.11)

  • Structural level: how do welfare regimes, including cultural values, condition volunteering by older people?

Cutting across these four levels of research questions, the aim of this volume is to analyse the complex and probably contradictory interrelations between national welfare models/mixes, welfare policies, voluntary organisations and individual factors. This will lead to policy considerations based on insights as to what kind of policy mixes and promising practices best serve the enrolment of older people in voluntary work. Similarly, which cultures, institutions, processes and actors support or constrain the transferability of promising practices from one country to another will also be assessed. The overall question on which this volume is based is the following: under what circumstances can volunteering function as a real basis for self-fulfilment and social integration of older adults in Europe?


In light of the complexity of voluntary work, it is no surprise that it has been defined differently in various studies. With regard to our investigation, the following are the basic definitions adopted concerning what we consider to be ‘volunteering’ and ‘voluntary organisations’.

As for the first, in some cases ‘volunteering’ has been considered to include paid work (Pfau-Effinger et al, 2009), or has been defined ignoring the issue of remuneration (for example, Hank and Stuck, 2008). In general, however, volunteering is considered as embracing a large range of activities undertaken by a person of their own free will, without concern for financial gain (Naegele and Schnabel, 2010; McCloughan et al, 2011), or for reimbursement of expenses (often partial) that cannot, however, be considered as actual remuneration (ILO, 2011). The work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is particularly helpful in this respect as it reviews previous attempts to define volunteer work. All of the reviewed definitions underline that this activity is provided ‘unpaid’, or ‘without pay’, ‘without being paid’ or with ‘no monetary or in-kind payment’ (ILO, 2011, p 12).

Another point concerns what kind of activity should be considered as volunteering. A first specification is that volunteer work may be intended as the charitable and altruistic provision of help to people in need, thus involving a relationship between a volunteer helping a recipient and a recipient benefiting from this help (Haski-Leventhal et al, 2009, p 149). However, some observers underline (p.12) that volunteering activities may include those that benefit the wider community or society, which may also be self-expressive in their intrinsic nature (for example, cultural, environmental, in sports organisations), while still having an indirect benefit for individuals in the community (Barker, 1993, p 28; Sivesind et al, 2002). Furthermore, volunteering may be formal or informal. Formal volunteering takes place in an organisational framework, whereas informal voluntary work is provided, for example, as unstructured self-help or assistance to neighbours (Naegele and Schnabel, 2010). In general, however, care to immediate family members is not considered volunteer work (ILO, 2011).

In light of the above, and being aware that some blurred situations may occur in different national contexts (one of the aims of this study is to analyse national differences), for the purposes of this book we consider volunteering as an activity having either an altruistic or self-expressive nature carried out in voluntary organisations, freely chosen and unpaid.

This means that we should also define what we mean by ‘voluntary organisation’. Voluntary organisations as legal entities seldom exist in the European scenario, and furthermore they might not cover all of the activities included in our definition of volunteering (see, for example, the Italian case described in Chapter Three, this volume). Most often, voluntary work takes place in non-profit organisations that can sometimes be strongly dependent on paid employees. Some non-profit organisations resemble commercial organisations in that they sell goods and services although without the goal of making a profit, even though they may wish to make money for charitable reasons such as maintaining a museum or a sports club. For the aims of this book, we use an umbrella definition of voluntary organisation as any organisation in which people formally volunteer, in order to try to cover the phenomenon in its entirety. According to this perspective, voluntary organisations are assumed to be, to a large extent, non-profit and third sector organisations (including trade unions, housing organisations, and so on), excluding, however, those employing exclusively paid staff. In this perspective, voluntary organisations may also be private (for example, a private museum) or organised by public bodies (for example, user organisations in hospitals and schools). In light of these specifications and the heterogeneity of voluntary organisations, we use (depending on data availability in the different countries included in the study) the terms ‘voluntary’, ‘civil society’ and ‘non profit’ organisations/associations as synonymous in this volume.

(p.13) Methodology

As active ageing is a multidisciplinary theme, the research questions highlighted above are answered by means of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and comparative approach, analysing factors favouring volunteering among older people. Eight countries are included in the analysis, representing different kinds of welfare regimes: Denmark, England (data are shown for the UK, when unavailable for England), France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

Literature on volunteering by older adults has so far primarily been occupied with analysing micro-level factors. Very little research has been done on the meso or organisational level, whereas research on the macro and structural level hardly exists. This has influenced our research strategy. Two types of studies form the basis of this volume: country studies through national profile descriptions, on the one hand, and case studies in voluntary organisations, on the other. Both approaches have been used to analyse each of the eight countries included in this investigation. The country studies analyse how discourses about active ageing promoted at the international level have been translated and transferred into national efforts to promote and sustain volunteering by older people, as well as how structural, policy, organisational and individual features interact in different countries relative to volunteering by older people. The organisational case studies aim instead to analyse how European voluntary organisations conceive of and manage older people as volunteers. The national profile descriptions constitute Part II of this book, while the results from the case studies are presented in Part III.

National Profile Descriptions (Part II)

National profile descriptions (Chapters Three to Ten) include all of the aspects considered in the conceptual framework presented in detail in Chapter Two. They analyse volunteering in older age at the micro, meso and macro level, and consider its relationship with the labour market and care system within the specific country's welfare regime. Based on the qualitative and/or quantitative data available in the literature, the eight country chapters have been drawn up following the same structure to facilitate comparison. After a short introduction describing the characteristics of the country welfare regime and specific rules governing the voluntary sector, a more comprehensive illustration of voluntary work is presented, including data on volunteers by sector, gender and age, as well as a more specific focus on older volunteers (p.14) in relation to several individual and organisational dimensions. A third section analyses in more depth the opportunities for and restrictions on older volunteers at the individual, organisational and policy level, by also examining possible conflicts between volunteering and labour market participation, as well as between volunteering and family care. Specific attention is dedicated to the organisational and policy level, analysing whether and how organisational and welfare policies are able to improve the match between the supply of older candidates and the demands of civil society organisations. Each chapter concludes with a summary of main findings and reflections as to what can be learned from the experience of the specific country.

Case Studies (Part III)

To fill the lack of information at the meso level on this topic, we have analysed the under-investigated perspective of voluntary organisations by carrying out case studies in several European voluntary organisations. The first of the three chapters composing Part III of the book (Chapter Eleven) is dedicated to the results emerging from these case studies, describing the organisations involved and their strategies in managing older volunteers. In the second chapter (Chapter Twelve), the organisational perspective is adopted to analyse the societal framework and in particular the role of work for the labour market and that of family care of older relatives, in order to understand its impact on the volunteering of older people and its consequences for voluntary organisations. The third and last chapter (Chapter Thirteen) points to the future, and concerns organisational intentions about their older volunteer workforce in terms of (age) management, to respond to major expected future developments in society at the micro, meso as well as macro level. The three chapters consist of a cross-case analysis on cross-case issues (Yin, 2009).

The activity sector and age structure of the volunteer workforce were adopted as the main criteria for the selection of voluntary organisations in each country. In each country we focused on the three main sectors of voluntary activity based on the International Classification of Non-profit Organisations (ICNPO) that was chosen as a common criterion of classification among the European countries involved in the study (through a re-classification of national data when needed). With regard to the volunteers' age structure, the organisations were selected according to the share of older volunteers among all volunteers employed, and divided into two main groups: those with a rather high share (or above average) and those with a rather low share (p.15) (or below average). This step allowed us to achieve a better insight into whether organisations adopt different policies/behaviours or have different attitudes according to the age composition of their volunteer workforce. The intention was not so much to establish an exact number of organisations to be investigated according to their stratification in terms of volunteers' age composition, but rather to have a sufficient number of them in both groups (at least 25 per cent of the whole sample) in order to identify the mechanisms affecting organisational behaviours and attitudes in relation to the age composition of the volunteers.

From spring 2009 to spring 2011, 73 case studies in voluntary organisations were carried out across Europe in the eight countries involved in the study: nine case studies were carried out each in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, eight in England and ten each in Denmark and France. The case study method was chosen because it allows the investigation of a phenomenon within its real-life context with limited resources, providing results that can be considered theoretically enriching even though it does not give the possibility of generalising results to populations or universes (Yin, 1994, 2009).

To select the voluntary organisations according to the sampling criteria, the following recruitment channels were used: available national data; suggestions from national experts in the field; and other channels (including the internet). Pre-interview information on the main sectors of activity and on the share of older volunteers was requested from the organisations in order to check criteria for inclusion.

Despite the quite broad range of recruitment channels, for several reasons the study for some countries includes data for organisations in different sectors from the main ones. Among these reasons, which are explained in detail in Principi and Lamura (2011), we should mention the need to obtain information on the activities of older volunteers (in Sweden and in Poland) and to have a clearer picture of gender-specific features (Denmark); in the Netherlands one case study in the health sector was based on two previous studies, since it was found to be a very profitable way of describing the volunteering of older people in this sector.

The final sample is presented in Chapter Eleven. Table 11.1 provides the following information for each organisation: country; name; main sector of activity; main services provided; number of volunteers; share of older volunteers in the organisation; and percentage of female volunteers. Both national/umbrella and local voluntary organisations (p.16) were included in the study, while voluntary organisations exclusively targeting younger volunteers were excluded. In-text references to organisations through the three chapters are provided to show exemplary results, and are identified by writing part or all of the organisation's name (see Table 11.1, note a, for details).

Directors, leaders of the organisations, human resources managers and/or coordinators of volunteers and activities were interviewed in a replication design (Yin, 2009), and common guidelines were adopted in all countries to investigate opportunities and restrictions for older volunteers according to the same framework. The guidelines, conceived as a relatively open and flexible instrument for the compilation of the relevant information, were made up of five main sections: case study background; organisational views and policies; specific initiatives for older volunteers; external aspects; and future prospects on volunteers' age management.

Book Structure

As anticipated in the previous section, Chapter Two proposes a conceptual framework for the understanding and discussion of volunteering of older people. This conceptual framework will function as a point of reference in the subsequent chapters and the whole book. It provides an integrated synopsis of the different dimensions of analysis, and also presents the state-of-the-art literature concerning the dimensions identified. According to this main framework, Chapters Three to Ten include national overviews on the state of volunteering by older people in the eight countries included in the study, the analysis constituting Part II of the book. In Part III, Chapters Eleven to Thirteen, we present the results of the 73 case studies carried out in voluntary organisations across Europe. The main content of these chapters has been described above. Here it is worthwhile underlining that the three chapters address the volunteering of older people from an organisational perspective by dealing with the internal management of older volunteers (Chapter Eleven); interactions with the welfare mix (Chapter Twelve); and future perspectives (Chapter Thirteen). Finally, Chapter Fourteen analyses the findings illustrated in the previous chapters in a cross-national perspective in order to then identify the main challenges to enhancing formal volunteering among older people on a European-wide scale.

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