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One in three Swiss helps out for free: study

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13:50 CET+01:00

One in every three Swiss does some kind of volunteer work, spending an average of half a day per week.

About 1.3 million Swiss people are engaged in volunteer work in organisations or institutions and nearly 1.2 million render informal volunteer services to fellow citizens, such as babysitting or providing care to sick people, according to the “Volunteer work in Switzerland in 2010” study carried out by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

The Swiss spend an average of 13.7 hours per month for organized volunteer work and 15.5 hours for informal volunteering - equating to around half a day per week.

The FSO estimates that the total amount of non-paid work carried out in the country in 2010 is about 640 million francs ($706 million), not much less that the 755 million hours of paid work completed in the health and social affairs sector.

Middle-age citizens and early retired workers are among the most active volunteers the study says. In terms of gender, men are mostly involved formally in sports clubs, followed by culture or advocacy organisations. Women, on the other hand, are more involved in informal work. They prefer to offer their free work to sport clubs, social organisations and charities. 

Most volunteers say they like to offer free services because its fun and they like to help.  

There are significant regional variations in the organized volunteer work carried out, being much higher in the German-speaking part of the country than in the other regions. Within informal volunteering work the variations are smaller between language regions.

The survey also shows that 75 percent of the population claims to have donated money or goods to charitable organisations in the last 12 months, mostly to associations dealing with mentally and physically disabled and sick people.

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