Charactersitics of Hungarian nonprofit organisations and thier volunteers in the context of literature and statistical analysis (2010-2021)

Ildikó Laki - István Sebestény - Anna Mária Bartal



The Hungarian nonprofit sector, which was reborn after the transition into democracy and market economy in 1990, has been characterised by international comparative nonprofit research as a sector dominated by recreational, sports and cultural organisations. Despite its importance, few comprehensive statistical and empirical analyses have been published on the Hungarian cultural non-profit sub-sector, albeit studies have so far tended to focus on individual elements of it. Consequently, in this paper we summarise and critically analyse the statistical and empirical reports that have been published on the Hungarian cultural civil and nonprofit sub-sector between 1997 and 2020. In addition, based on a secondary analysis of non-profit statistical data from 2010 to 2021, we explore the structural changes that have taken place in the cultural non-profit organisations sub-sector, with a particular focus on the pandemic period. Finally, filling an existing gap, we present a timeline that demonstrates the characteristics and economic importance of volunteering in the cultural civil and nonprofit subsector. By analysing the literature and statistical data, we have been able to demonstrate in detail that cultural nonprofit organisations represent the "most civil" sub-sector, due to their historical background, organisational structure, active volunteer groups, community functions, and social role in transmitting culture. We also wish to highlight that behind these strong characteristics, there have been significant structural changes over the last thirty years in terms of the legal structure of organisations, volunteer groups and in the types of municipalities they operate, which have nuanced the general picture of the sub-sector. Our results also reveal that the value of hours contributed by volunteers of cultural non-profit organisations is the second largest economic force in the Hungarian nonprofit sector, making up for the sub-sector's weaknesses in terms of revenues and employment. Our analysis of the two years of COVID-19 pandemic yielded three unexpected results. First, the number of cultural non-profit organisations did not decrease during the pandemic, but rather remained stable, due to the creation of new associations, particularly in municipalities. Second, in 2021, 85 percent of cultural nonprofit organisations reported that they employed volunteers (compared to an average of 57 percent in the previous period). Third, the employment of occasional (episodic) volunteers increased during the pandemic, and the employment of volunteers working with legal contracts also gained importance.

Keywords: cultural civic and nonprofit organisations, cultural mediation, structural changes, associations, volunteering, episodic volunteers, volunteers with legal status