About 20% of Israel's adult population are volunteers, active in 278 public voluntary bodies which complement health and social services. These organizations range from hospital and emergency care auxiliaries to the Civil Guard and volunteer rescue units; groups which address prevailing social problems such as substance, spouse, and child abuse, road safety, and environmental conservation; and others which concentrate their efforts on the status of women, immigrants' and consumers' rights, and soldiers' welfare.
Various programs offer volunteers from abroad a chance to serve in Israel, usually on a short-term basis. Many come each summer to take part in archeological excavations, some work in kibbutzim, while others help in social services. Some young German volunteers view taking care of the elderly and sick in Israel as atonement for the war crimes of the Nazi regime against the Jewish people.
The composition of the contemporary volunteer force differs from that of previous generations. Since a majority of Israeli women work, they do not have much free time to devote to volunteering, but longevity provides many retirees, both men and women, with time to help out in such areas as emergency medical assistance (Magen David Adom) or environmental organizations. University students commonly volunteer to tutor disadvantaged children and teenagers (for which they may receive a partial stipend). The voluntary effort in Israel is coordinated by the National Council for Voluntarism in Israel, a public, non-profit organization, funded by the Prime Minister's Office and affiliated with international volunteer agencies.
Campaigns by voluntary groups, including occasional national telethons to collect funds for causes, are a regular and accepted feature of Israeli life.