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Global Review on Volunteering

The Global Review on Volunteering was the result of a collaborative effort between Prof Matt Baillie Smith and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report was published in 2015, drawing on the voices and perspectives of almost 600 volunteer managers, delegates and volunteers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as external experts in 158 countries, to explore the challenges of promoting and supporting volunteering in the context of significant local and global changes, such as:

  • economic crises and austerity in the global South and North;
  • changes to the communities in which volunteers work and from which volunteers are drawn, shaped particularly by increasing movements of people;
  • the emphases on cost-effective service delivery and associated reporting and accountability requirements in aid spending;
  • recent and often sustained conflict and violence in the global South.

The Global Review identified the challenges these changes present, how they overlap, and how they are changing and transforming what is meant by volunteering. It also highlights how they require volunteer managers and facilitators to negotiate increasingly complex and sometime dangerous settings with limited resources and high expectations.

By prioritising the voices of volunteer managers and volunteers, the Global Review offers insights, perspectives and analysis directly from the field. It challenges some of the prevailing assumptions that are limiting or stifling volunteering’s potential to contribute to long-term, sustainable change, identifying research gaps alongside the knowledge and innovation of practitioners. Just as there is increasing global recognition and support for volunteering, particularly as part of achieving humanitarian and development goals, there needs to be a corresponding investment in time, resources and intellectual rigor in determining how best to promote and support this valuable human activity and those who enable it. 

The findings of the Review have important implications for the agendas of volunteer-using organisations and their support and funding of volunteering, for researchers and their framing of research priorities, for volunteer managers seeking to develop innovative solutions to pressing problems and for donors in the development and humanitarian sectors.

You can access the full report in English here and also in Spanish here.


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