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IFRC Volunteering Policy Study

The research project 'Shaping the future of volunteering today: a study on the IFRC Volunteering Policy' was led by Prof Matt Baillie Smith and Dr Bianca Fadel, working together with PhD Researcher Becky Richardson and Dr Owen Boyle. The study was commissioned by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Spanish Red Cross to analyse the implementation of the 2011 IFRC Volunteering Policy and strengthen the evidence-base needed for developing the new IFRC policy based on the experiences and views of staff and volunteers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 

The IFRC policies and strategies support the work of 192 National Societies across the globe and almost 15 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers registered with them.

This study took place in 2020-2021 and engaged with over 335 staff and volunteers from 40 different National Societies through online interviews and surveys.

It explored volunteer development and management in the context of the 2011 IFRC Volunteering Policy and wider policy-making within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It summarised and analysed the views and experiences of volunteers and staff, as well as relevant policy documentation, to:

  • examine what roles the IFRC Volunteering Policy has played in shaping volunteer development and management in different National Societies across regions;
  • deepen understanding of the tasks that volunteers do and how this relates to different policy frameworks;
  • review the different approaches to policies for volunteer development taken by different National Societies;
  • identify key themes and challenges for shaping and developing effective policies that support volunteering development in the context of Strategy 2030.

The report showed that there is significant diversity in approaches across the Movement, that there are changes happening in volunteering practices that do not necessarily align with policy approaches and that there are strategic frameworks beyond a Volunteering Policy that are relevant to supporting volunteer development. Despite significant differences, the findings also revealed significant common ground between National Societies over what some of the futures of volunteering might look like, and hence, opportunities for the revised IFRC Volunteering Policy to act to support and enable volunteering development and management in the context of these changes.

The new IFRC Volunteering Policy was adopted in 2022, drawing from the findings that emerged from this study; the Global Review on Volunteering which was also undertaken in collaboration with Northumbria University in 2015; the IFRC Volunteer Charter, adopted by the IFRC General Assembly in 2017 and the Movement's Council of Delegates in 2019; and is also framed by the IFRC Strategy 2030.

You can access here the new IFRC Volunteering Policy (available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish). 


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