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Data was gathered in three main stages: the conduct of online focus groups, personal interviews, and interviews with the experts. In the first and second stages, respondents were selected intentionally to capture the various volunteering experiences, according to the structure of the volunteer initiative. The collection of data continued until the saturation point was reached. In the third stage, according to the research aims, interviews were conducted with the representatives of two ministries, whose responsibilities include assistance to the volunteer sector, and two organizations, whose activity is related to the improvement of certain aspects of volunteer activity in Ukraine.

The sample size of the first focus group was 7 persons and of the second - 10 persons. The second stage consisted of 13 interviews. Expert interviews were conducted with representatives of CEDEM, the Ukrainian Volunteer Service, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, and the National Social Services of Ukraine.

Disclaimer: The sample did not include volunteer initiatives whose areas of activity are not related to assistance to the defense forces and IDPs, which could, in some cases, affect the definition of the problems of the volunteer sector by the respondents. The uneven distribution of volunteer initiatives in the sample is partly related to the change or expansion of the direction of activity after the start of the full-scale war with the Russian Federation.


  1. ·   Based on respondents' answers, the term 'volunteer' should be defined as an umbrella term that includes: independent individual volunteers; individual volunteers under the patronage of non-for-profit organizations; participants of volunteer organizations that are not legally registered; employees of legally registered non-for-profits. Each of these subcategories has unique and common problems that they face while conducting volunteer activities. It is worth mentioning that at the moment, Ukrainian law 'On volunteer activities' protects the rights only of the individual volunteers acting under the patronage of not-for-profit organizations.
  2. ·   Both in the regulatory framework and in public discourse, there is a lack of understanding who volunteers are or what volunteer organization is. Analysis of legislation shows that the overwhelming majority of respondents who participated in these studies should be classified as benefactors, not volunteers. Incorrect classification can impede the plans of the authorities to introduce the system of registration of volunteers.
  3. ·   Logistical barriers that the volunteers face are mainly related to the lack of clarity and frequent change of the procedures of receival of the relevant permits during customs clearance. According to the respondents, new versions of the documents were difficult and sometimes impossible to find with free access. Decisions regarding the permission of the goods or volunteers' travel abroad (program "The Way") depended on the personal connection of the volunteers.
  4. ·   Except for the respondents who are connected to large charitable foundations, surveyed volunteers, who needed to cross settlements at night, either did not have the required permits or managed to get hold of them thanks to their other activities or personal connection. The lack of a uniform procedure for issuing permits leads to corruption risks.
  5. ·   Reporting about non-profit organizations' volunteer activities requires a lot of time. Since at the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, volunteer organizations provided help in the force majeure regime, the relevant reporting activity was not conducted. One of the respondents shared that her charitable foundation had to stop its activities for almost 5 months after the Russian army's advance was stopped so that they could put everything in order in their accounting department.
  6. ·   Among the main reasons why participants of volunteer organizations that are still not registered legally refuse to register their not-for-profit organizations was the fear of redundant bureaucratization and of slowing down the rate of procurements. Respondents mentioned that for registration of the not-for-profit organization, they need the help of an accountant and lawyer, while they do not have costs to cover their work.
  7. ·   The majority of the surveyed individual volunteers are registered in the volunteer register; however, few refuse to do so. Among the reasons for not registering, they mentioned: lack of information about this register, confidence that the state's control will not affect them, fear of pressure from the authorities after the war is over.
  8. ·   Some of the surveyed volunteers had to face corruption on behalf of the authorities while carrying out their activities. Most of the respondents were complaining about the program "The Way": local authorities were demanding money for permission for volunteers to cross the border. Local authorities also demanded that non-profit organizations share the humanitarian aid in exchange for an official document (request) that the organizations needed to receive the humanitarian aid in question.
  9. ·   Some of the respondents had to retort to corrupt actions on customs to be able to import quadcopters, which are considered to be military goods.
  10. ·   Some surveyed volunteers who help military and civilians in the frontline territories shared stories of coming under the enemy's fire. As a consequence, they were injured, and their belongings were damaged. In cases like this, injured volunteers received financial aid from donor organizations because they were not informed that they could receive monetary assistance from the state.
  11. ·   The payment mechanism of one-time financial aid in case of injury or death of the volunteer needs to be improved because it does not foresee payment in case the aid was provided to civilians.
  12. ·   The main factors that influence involvement in volunteer activities are closest surroundings, previous experience of volunteering, and relevance for the professional activity of the person.
  13. ·   During interviews and focus groups, respondents emphasized the decrease of financial income caused by the fatigue of society and the reduction of income of the population. At the same time, resources available to volunteers are not always used efficiently; in particular, there are cases when the same aid was provided to the same subject by several volunteer initiatives.
  14. ·   There is a severe risk of outflow of people, both from the volunteer sector and the civil society sector in general, after the end or freezing of hostilities. Several respondents directly stated their intention to leave the country after the war because of their fatigue and disappointment in state institutions.
  15. ·   Surveyed volunteers noted that fatigue and burnout are pretty common among their colleagues. This is caused by the excessive load and stressful situations that happen during the volunteer activity. Some of the respondents see rest as the solution to this problem, however, they only sometimes have resources for it. While others, on the contrary, fight fatigue and stress by increasing their workload.
  16. ·   The primary source of inspiration for volunteers that helps them continue working is the opportunity to see the results of their volunteer activities, gratitude from the aid recipients and faith that they are contributing towards the victory.
  17. ·   The lack of gratitude demotivates the surveyed volunteers. Absolutely all respondents, who mentioned this during the focus groups and interviews, pointed out that civilians demonstrate ingratitude towards the volunteers. Based on the volunteers' answers, one of the reasons behind this is the incorrect definition of the critical needs of the groups of civilians. As a result, some types of aid are received by people who do not critically need it.
  18. ·   The main request that volunteers have towards the state is not to interfere. Those who would like to receive support and assistance from the state can only sometimes specify their own needs.
  19. ·   Surveyed volunteers have the following educational needs that would help them to perform their activities: financial reporting, financial operations abroad, crowdfunding, legal literacy, logistics, pre-medical first aid, management, communication, and interaction with the authorities. Speaking about the educational needs of people just starting their volunteering work, the respondents repeatedly indicated the need to share experiences.
  20. ·   In general, the vision of the problems the volunteer sector faces shared by the surveyed representatives of the authorities coincides with the vision of the problems that the volunteers shared during the focus groups and interviews.
  21. ·   When talking about overcoming the barriers, surveyed volunteers predominantly saw the state as the agent who has to solve their problems. In particular, respondents voiced the following suggestions:

o  Issuing permits to volunteers so that they can move freely during the curfew;

o  Creation of the mechanism of direct interaction with the authorities so that volunteers could quickly communicate about the problems;

o  Possibility to share with the state financial or material costs of the aid when the volunteers are performing the state's functions;

o  Legitimation of Ukrainian volunteer organizations by the state before the international organizations and donors;

o  Educational courses with a system of mentorship;

o  Creation of a single inclusive system of interaction between volunteers that could help fight against the dishonest "volunteers" and coordinate the provision of help between different volunteers;

o  Creation of comfortable conditions for the volunteer activity;

o  Creation of psychological support groups for volunteers;

o  Monitoring by the state of trustworthiness of volunteers;

o  Creation of conditions that would allow aid recipients to share with the public their positive experience of interaction with volunteers.