The new capital of volunteering

17. Mar 2023

Lauri Luide, head of the voluntary activity direction of the Union of Non-Governmental Organizations, attended the event introducing the new volunteering capital and shared his impressions.

The Norwegian city of Trondheim is chosen to be the Capital of Volunteering 2023. This symbolic role was taken over from Gdansk, and a year later it will again be handed over to the city of Trento in Italy. The tradition of choosing the capital of volunteering is already nine years old. The title has already been held by Barcelona, ​​Lisbon, London, Sligo, Aarhus, Košice, Padua and Berlin.

An international delegation invited by the European Volunteer Center participated in the opening ceremony, several workshops and discussions. Every person and organization approaches volunteering a little differently. Be it a skatepark, a charity farm, a nutrition school, a social housing unit or an orphanage, all of those formations involve volunteers, their roles and mission may slightly differ. In Norway, however, one word is universal, regardless of context, organization, field of activity, age and gender: dugnad.

Dugnas represent themselves collective actions. But those collective actions do not refer to simple manual work. Collective action is an activity that unites the whole community for the benefit of all. Dugnad is also used to describe people who volunteer in a choir, play in an orchestra, or belong to a soccer team. Volunteering doesn’t have to be something you do only for others. In Norway, volunteering has a much deeper and more rooted meaning in society: participation in community activities for everyone’s benefit.

If you decide to sing in a choir, you will positively influence many people. First of all, you have your own creative outlet, but also the choir members have someone to sing with, the conductors have someone to guide, the composers have someone to write their creations to, the listeners have someone to play something beautiful for them and the other singers have someone to inspire them. I also play in a big band myself and of course I like to do it, I even pay a membership fee to participate. But in the same way, my participation is important for the other members, because if I wasn’t there, the others wouldn’t be able to play either, if one important voice is missing. Similarly, for example, a handball team cannot play if there is no goalkeeper.

Working for the common good is important. Attending only to your own needs is superficial and never ends. As humans, we tend to never be satisfied. Yes, we may succeed in something, but there is always an area for development. Norway has a lot of different and unique problems, but what I like about it is that taking care of each other is part of the culture. How they got there is related to the unique climate and geography, but anyone can figure that out for themselves. Anyway, there is something to learn from those people.

If you want to improve your well-being, become a volunteer! If you want to increase your happiness, become a volunteer! If you want to feel good, become a volunteer! If you want to help someone, become a volunteer! Volunteering does not depend on age, address, marital status, colour of your skin, mother tongue or beliefs. At the Volunteers’ Gate at, you can find advertisements for volunteers as well as all the answers to your thematic questions. Join us and let’s do good together! Dugnad!

*Photo: European Volunteer Center para sports team.