Consequences of the decrease in volunteers among German sports clubs: Is there a substitute for voluntary work?
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Volunteers represent a key resource for many voluntary sports clubs; however, a decrease in volunteers has been reported in many countries during recent years. The question arises as to how sports clubs respond to this and whether losses in voluntary work can be compensated for by other means. The purpose of this article is to analyse the consequences of a decrease in volunteers on an empirical basis, using a unique panel data set from a German survey of non-profit sports clubs (n 젷24). Within the analysis, sports clubs that experienced a decrease in volunteers from 2005 to 2009 are compared with clubs with a stable development (i.e. no change) or an increase in volunteers during the same time period. The results indicate that there are some substitution effects in sports clubs with a decrease in volunteers which differ between the short term (2005-2007) and the long term (2005-2009). In the short-term, the number of secondary volunteers and the proportion of clubs with low-cost employees (people with jobs from the employment office) increased significantly. In the long-term, the share of clubs with paid staff increased significantly. The findings indicate that sports clubs are capable of compensating for declines in volunteer numbers. Nevertheless, one major policy implication for sports clubs, sports federations and policymakers should be to improve the recognition of voluntary work. Moreover, public subsidies for the employment of paid staff could be provided.
International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
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