Volunteer exchange across Europe

Last summer, our focus was on promoting volunteering work camps organised by various organisations within the ENPLC consortium. These camps, led by European conservation NGOs, often go unnoticed by foreign volunteers. We suspected that the ones closely tied to local communities may not be reaching the attention of volunteers from abroad. To address this, the volunteering working group of Life ENPLC decided to organise a volunteering exchange between a selection of yearly organised work camps from partner organisations.
Camps have been organised in Germany, Spain, Belgium and Portugal.
Here’s how we went about it:
In March 2023, we initiated a questionnaire on the Life ENPLC website and partner websites to gauge interest in participating in volunteering work camps abroad during the summer. Over two months, we received over 30 responses from interested volunteers spanning 10 different countries. Given that a majority of respondents were aged 18 to 30, we decided to focus on the youth demographic.
After careful consideration, the volunteering working group selected five work camps organised by ENPLC consortium partners. These included two in Portugal by Rewilding Portugal and MONTIS, one in Spain (Catalonia) by Fundació Emys (via XCN), one in Germany by NABU, and one in Belgium by Natuurpunt. Notably, the work camps in Spain and Portugal were already known to foreign volunteers, while those in Belgium and Germany were mainly recognised locally.
In the next step, we provided information, including general details, registration instructions, and brief descriptions, to all questionnaire respondents. Simultaneously, this information was disseminated through the ENPLC website and various channels of our partner organisations.
As summer unfolded, we allowed the promotion to run its course. All 5 work-camps took place and achieved their work target.
Volunteers working in the field during the German (left) and Catalan (right) workcamp.
Now, with summer behind us, it’s time for an evaluation. Did promoting through Life ENPLC prove successful?
Feedback from Rewilding Portugal, MONTIS, Fundació Emys via XCN, NABU, and Natuurpunt makes it challenging to definitively determine the impact of ENPLC promotion. The “Southern” work camps in Spain and Portugal received positive feedback, with participants from various European countries, including Germany and Belgium, mentioning ENPLC as their discovery platform. Conversely, NABU and Natuurpunt experienced less success, with no international participants despite the camps’ local triumphs. NABU mentioned receiving emails from abroad but no attendees.

The group of volunteers participating in the Catalan workcamp.

The average age of participants in last summer’s work camps was in the late twenties, with the oldest participant being 67 years old at Rewilding Portugal’s camp. While this age group aligns with our target audience, the limited mentions of ENPLC by participants raise questions about whether our platform effectively reaches this demographic.
Finally, it’s crucial to recognise that Life projects have finite durations, while organisations like the ones mentioned have enduring platforms (websites, social media accounts, etc.). This temporal difference might impact the outreach to our target audience compared to platforms with longer lifespans. When promoting summer volunteering work camps, it’s essential to consider whether your target group actively follows the chosen platform.

Pictures from the Portuguese workcamp organised by project partner Montis.


The news items collected on this blog have been written by project partners of the LIFE ENPLC project.