Voluntary organizations are not isolated units; they arise out of and develop in close connection with their surroundings. Hence the importance of societal, historical, and cultural conditions in the four countries as they influence organizations. But the development of voluntary associations is also affected by international trends in welfare state ideology, economy, and policy. In the Netherlands and in Britain the strongest growth occurred in the early 1980s, whereas in Italy and Norway, the greatest growth in administrative and professional staff occurred some years later. In Italy, the staff size of the advocacy groups was stable in the 1980s, while the sheltered workshops, initiated in the early 1980s, were mainly managed by volunteers. Formalization includes several trends: toward more hierarchical structures, a more explicit internal division of labor, more written communication between staff members, and less informal relations between employers and staff.