The Current State of Volunteering in Turkey

Sema Akboga


Volunteering is an important aspect of philanthropy. Individual-level and structural factors might be decisive on some issues such as who volunteers, why people volunteer, when they volunteer, and whether they volunteer through formal or informal mechanisms. Education, income, gender, and ethnicity might be considered important individual-level factors determining volunteering. The cultural, political, and historical context of a country, on the other hand, is an important structural factor that produces an encouraging or discouraging environment for individuals to volunteer. The general state of civil society and participation in civil society organizations in a country are other structural conditions determining the level of volunteering.

Volunteering in Turkey is an understudied subject. In this chapter, I investigate the state of volunteering in Turkey, a Muslim country with a very low level of volunteering. To understand the reasons why people do not volunteer in Turkey, I analyze both individual-level and structural factors that discourage people from volunteering. First, I give a short overview of the historical development of the relationship between civil society organizations and the state in order to demonstrate the historical context in which volunteerism developed in Turkey. Second, I show the state of volunteering in Turkey by giving the numbers and the percentages regarding the volunteering and membership in civil society organizations. Third, I talk about the problems and strategies of volunteering in Turkey. Fourth, drawing on secondary data, I analyze people’s conceptualization of volunteering. Lastly, again drawing on secondary data, I look at the reasons that people report for volunteering and not volunteering, the ethnic, religious, and economic characteristics of

S. Akboga (*)

Political Science and Public Administration, Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

J. Butcher, C.J. Einolf (eds.), Perspectives on Volunteering, Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39899-0_13

volunteers and the effects of volunteering by specifically using youth volunteering as a case, as a great majority of volunteers in Turkey are young people.

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