Volunteering is a great way to acquire new skills and experience. However, many volunteers struggle to convince potential employers of this.

To help volunteers into employment, volunteering organisations need to understand and speak the language of the business world, and be able to give write good reference letters.

Volonteurope’s German member Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa (GLL) has a great deal of experience in writing reference letters for its volunteers.

“Writing a reference letter is one of the most valuable things I can give to my volunteers, as it really helps them to find employment,” explains Perdita Wingerter, Chief Executive of GLL.

Realising that many volunteering organisations struggle to write reference letters, Perdita decided to form the Grundtvig Learning Partnership ‘References for Volunteers’.

The partnership, led by GLL, involves partners from across Europe, including Volonteurope members Volunteering Matters (UK), Društvo Kultlab Celje (Slovenia), Hestia (Czech Republic), Malta Health Network (Malta) and the Tulip Foundation (Bulgaria).

Together, they have worked to develop a template to guide volunteering organisations in writing reference letters for their volunteers, consulting with businesses across Europe to ensure that the guidance they offer is relevant.

The product of this partnership is a European guideline for volunteering organisations on identifying and documenting the skills and experience acquired by their volunteers in a way that is understood, recognised and valued by local, national and European employers. The guideline is available for free download in English, German, Czech, Romania, Slovenian and Bulgarian from the References for Volunteers website.

The success of the partnership was recently recognised by the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission, which named it a ‘success story’. Commenting on its decision, the panel of experts involved in the selection process said that References for Volunteers distinguished itself by its impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and creative approach”, and called it “a source of inspiration for others”. The Erasmus+ Project Results Platform has similarly applauded the initiative.

To find out more about the project, the Guideline and the partners visit the References for Volunteers website.


Notes to Editors

Gemeinsam leben und lernen in Europa is a grassroots, volunteer-led civil society organisation based in Eastern Bavaria, Germany that works at local, national and European levels to promote volunteering and equality, and combat discrimination.

Volonteurope is an international network promoting volunteering, active citizenship and social justice in Europe and beyond. Volonteurope works at all levels, from the local to the international, and across the public, private and third sectors, facilitating exchange, fostering collaboration, and carrying out research and advocacy.