Discussion Group 1

Catalyzing the Call-to-Action through innovative models and big ideas

November 17-December 15 Moderated by Katrina Borromeo, Boram Kim

About the discussion group

In this discussion, we want to hear your thoughts on:

"What are the models and big ideas that can catalyze reimagined support for volunteers and approaches to volunteering in the context of accelerating progress to achieve the SDGs?"

(Add your responses by clicking on the tab 'Discussions")


What is the Call-to Action?

The A Call-to-Action on Volunteering in the Decade of Action outlines seven key areas that require urgent action. It is the main outcome of the Global Technical Meeting on Reimagining Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda that convened online from 13-16 July 2020, as part of The Plan of Action to Integrate Volunteering into the 2030 Agenda. 

7 ACTION AREAS

  1. People of all backgrounds need opportunities to show leadership through volunteering across all the SDGs;
  2. All forms of volunteering, including informal volunteering, should be supported by organizations, policies and laws;
  3. People need to have equitable access to inclusive and safe volunteering;
  4. People’s and volunteers’ voices need to be listened to and acted upon by decision-makers;
  5. Innovative models and approaches should be piloted to support voluntary action;
  6. The impact of volunteering beyond delivering essential services should be measured;
  7. Volunteering must be integrated with other efforts to achieve the SDGs.

What ideas and examples we looking for? 

In responding to the question above, you could share examples of:

  • Actions that open up the most beneficial volunteering opportunities to the most marginalized in societies, for example, leadership and engagement opportunities through volunteering for women in contexts where gender inequality is a major challenge;
  • New forms of cooperation with informal or community volunteers, for example by including traditional or local knowledge and volunteer efforts in local policy development processes in support of achieving the SDGs;
  • Platforms and partnerships that enable: i) researchers and policy actors from across sectors (e.g. private sector, academia), particularly from the global South to collaborate and share their findings on volunteering and innovative ideas with a global audience; and ii) experts and practitioners to volunteer their knowledge and capacities to help design solutions to sustainable development challenges identified most relevant by people across contexts;
  • Initiatives and partnerships that enable: i) the voices of marginalized groups to be heard and acted upon, such as new civic spaces, people-led assemblies, and coalitions that have enabled least-heard groups to participate in problem/challenge identifications as well as the decisions that affect them; and ii) creation of opportunities based on new perspectives shaped by openly available volunteer-led data and insights
  • Balancing the positives and negatives of volunteering in communities across different groups, genders, and types of volunteers, for example through the better division of tasks among women and men, or through psychosocial support for local volunteers in crises.
  • Models that assess the impact of volunteering so that policy-makers can better understand the value of volunteering and the impact of different approaches to supporting volunteers and volunteering, such as measurement frameworks that capture the contributions of volunteering beyond GDP.

Why take part?

The evidence may be used in the 2021 Report of the Secretary-General on Volunteering, and as a resource for approaches to realize the Call to Action – to make volunteering a transformative force for the 2030 Agenda.

Need more information?

Join related discussions

Click here to join the parallel discussion on 'Integrating volunteering into policy and planning'. 

Profile picture for user Boram Kim
Boram Kim
17.11.2020
Hello everyone! I am so glad that you took the time to get here to join our online consultation! A very warm welcome on behalf of UNV.

This virtual forum is the space for us to share, discuss and uncover approaches and ideas that are considered new or those that UNV is to explore more to position volunteering as a transformative power to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. As you know, we have 10 years to go, and everyone everywhere is to take action with urgency and does one’s part.

I am Boram from UNV Headquarters in Bonn, Germany and am very delighted to be moderating this consultation together with my superstar colleague, Katrina. We have about four weeks to engage in this space, so please join us in sharing out-of-the-box thinking and practical suggestions informed by your expertise and experiences across the globe. I am excited to learn from each and every one of you in the coming weeks.

And now it’s over to you - "What are the models and big ideas that can catalyze reimagined support for volunteers and approaches to volunteering in the context of accelerating progress to achieve the SDGs?"

To be able to contribute by leaving a comment, make sure you have created a user account (see the ‘How to join’ tab in case of any trouble).

Looking forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions – to shape the future of volunteering together.

Boram
10 Support
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In reply to by Boram Kim

Katrina Borromeo
23.11.2020
Thank you so much for the warm introduction, Boram! I am thrilled to co-moderate this discussion with you.

When we embarked on a process to ‘reimagine volunteering’ culminating in the global meeting last July, it became very clear that we cannot continue with business as usual – and that we need new ideas, partnerships and approaches to fully maximise the value of volunteering for the SDGs.

We’re seeing some exciting innovations on this front, especially from the private sector – SAP, for instance, focused on widening partnerships and working more closely with communities, non-profits and social enterprises to support digital inclusion and bridge the digital divide among the haves and have nots. Many companies are also setting out to reimagine digital volunteering and taking on a more active role in setting up intelligent systems to expand volunteering opportunities for everyone, young and old, men and women, etc.

Do you have examples and out-of-the-box ideas you would like to share for next generation volunteering? Tell us!
6 Support
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In reply to by Katrina Borromeo

Juhee Woo
26.11.2020
The technology revolution is changing the nature of volunteering. Digital transformation and online volunteering are playing an important role in the region. In some countries, people have utilised online platforms such as mobile applications and websites to find volunteering opportunities.

In UAE, Emirates Foundation launched a national volunteering platform named Volunteers. ae in 2017, for youth to engage in community service. Volunteers also can register and choose volunteering activities through a mobile application called Dubai Volunteer which provides auto-notifications for volunteering opportunities. In Lebanon, the Alumni of the American University of Beirut has developed a website that provides a volunteer matching service. Besides, people use online volunteering, social media, and mobile applications to look for and engage in volunteering opportunities. For instance, volunteers register on the Matar Project App to provide audio-record or type the text for the visually impaired in the region. Similarly, Be My Eyes free mobile app connects volunteers in Arabs states to the blind and visually impaired. Volunteers provide their time and talents through these online platforms.
1 Support
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In reply to by Juhee.Woo

Juhee Woo
26.11.2020
Mr Hasan Al Heraki from Qatar has co-founded an online volunteer platform Bevol, described as the ‘volunteers’ LinkedIn’. The platform has attracted >40,000 volunteers from >170 countries in the last two years. He believes that the use of technical tools is key to reducing inequalities, because it ensures recognition of the work of volunteers, allowing them to demonstrate their skills and experience. He believes Bevol represents an innovative new model of volunteer collaboration – he described further mechanisms by which the platform can be used to motivate collaboration, for example through the gamification of volunteerism through allocating reward points for completed work. He believes that a lack of recognition & formal documentation of volunteer work is a key failure of current volunteer collaboration methods and that platforms like Bevol therefore have a key role in solving this problem.
1 Support
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In reply to by Juhee.Woo

Boram Kim
27.11.2020
Gamification of volunteering comes up again :-) Marcelo below also mentioned. Fully agree with the importance of recognition. About the point on documentation of the volunteer work, what are some of the ways to improve this documentation? I do believe that the better we capture what volunteers do, the easier to position volunteering under the 2030 Agenda. It will also help us learn more about WHO volunteers which is as important as why and how one volunteers nowadays.
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In reply to by Juhee.Woo

Boram Kim
27.11.2020
Hi Juhee, very interesting to hear hands on examples from the Arab region. It is true that people's action and digitalization are highly connected these days. And it's great that the apps and platforms developed are being utilized with such great interest. Not knowing the full scale of these initiatives in the region, what made them successful? How were they promoted? And are there any groups/people left behind simply because they don't have a mobile phone or access to such connection, for example?
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In reply to by Boram Kim

Marcelo Nonohay
24.11.2020
Hello everyone! I would like to invite you to discuss something that I been thinking a lot lately.
“If only we could make volunteering so trendy and viral as some of the most successful online games, we could add valuable social capital into our communities.”
We are probably living in the right moment to make it happen.
Due to the global economic and social crises that will be deepened in the aftermath of the Pandemic, we should stablish international streams of solidarity going both ways from de global north to the global south. It could carry knowledge, services, goods and funds to reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19, which, in turn, will pose great threat to the progress of the SDGs.
The year 2020 has definitely catalyzed the digitalization of many aspects of our lives, including volunteering. Through online interactions we could develop something similar to a “supply chain of doing good”. Leveling resources, human capital and even volunteering culture across nations.
I am a firm believer in giving people a clear direction and breaking the path to an objective into goals. I have been working with different approaches on the gamification of volunteering programs with very satisfactory outcomes.
To take advantage of gamification, we could organize these chains of people and institutions around one SDG at a time, with measurable results.
I know it is complex and not easy to do, but I think that we finally have the capabilities, technologies AND the urgency to act.
4 Support
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In reply to by Marcelo Nonohay

Boram Kim
25.11.2020
What an exciting thought, Marcelo! Thank you for sharing. I couldn't agree more particularly on looking at volunteering as valuable social capital. I do think that it's a gap in research and evidence to showcase what good volunteering does for communities from this angle. Some efforts are being made to measure in economic terms (for example, contribution to the GDP), but this does not give us the full picture. We need a new narrative highlighting this aspect for sure. I recently came across an interesting article in case you would like to also read. The main topic is a bit different from what you raised here, but I found it refreshing to look at volunteering from an asset-based approach linking with livelihoods: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11266-020-00254-1

Also, would it be possible to share some highlights of the gamification of volunteering programme you mentioned. I really appreciate your encouragement to all of us saying we have capabilities, technologies and the urgency to act. Spot on!
2 Support
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Piera Zuccherin
24.11.2020
En America Latina y el Caribe, la mayoría del voluntariado (mas del 70%) se realiza de forma informal, segundo los datos del ultimo Informe sobre el Voluntariado en el Mundo de UNV. Existen limitados datos hoy en día, sobre la contribución del voluntariado a los ODS, con lo cual me parece que una primera importante acción seria investigar más, producir más datos, sobre como el aporte actual del voluntariado a los ODS. Eso permitiría por un lado reconocer la labor que los y las voluntarias están realizando, incluir sus aportes en los planes y programas de desarrollo a nivel regional, nacional y local, y poderlo maximizar. Al momento, en mi opinión sería necesaria reforzar las alianzas con el sector académico para producir más datos e investigaciones sobre el aporte del voluntariado a los ODS.
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In reply to by Piera

Boram Kim
25.11.2020
Gracias por este punto importante sobre los datos. Estoy de acuerdo en que nuestro trabajo debe estar mucho más informado por la evidencia para poder hacer contribuciones significativas a los ODS. Mientras tanto, me pregunto si una brecha está en nuestra capacidad para hacer las preguntas correctas o formular hipótesis relevantes que estén respaldadas por datos y evidencia. Cuando hablamos de las contribuciones del voluntariado, ¿cuáles serían esas preguntas críticas que requerirían respuestas en nuestro sector, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que tenemos 10 años para alcanzar los ODS? ¿Qué debemos demostrar para que el voluntariado se coloque en el centro de la Agenda 2030, por ejemplo?

Thank you for raising this important point on data. I agree that our work is to be much more informed by evidence to be able to make meaningful contributions to the SDGs. Having said that, I wonder whether a real gap lies in our ability to ask the right questions or formulate relevant hypotheses to be backed up by data and evidence. When we talk about the contributions of volunteering, what would be those critical questions that would require answers in our sector, especially as we have 10 years to achieve the SDGs? What do we need to prove for volunteering to be placed at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, for example?
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In reply to by Boram Kim

Piera Zuccherin
26.11.2020
Muchas gracias por la respuesta. Tal vez simplemente por el momento tenemos que seguir posicionando en el debate sobre desarrollo sostenible al voluntariado. Algo que en mi experiencia pasa frecuente es que en muchos debates sobre voluntariado, se comparten experiencias, pero la misma Agenda 2030 y la contribución del voluntariado, tal vez seria interesante que las mismas partes interesadas (socios de voluntariado) reconocieran y visibilizaran en sus reportes esta contribución a los ODS. Eso nos ayudaría a contar con mecanismos de monitores y seguimiento.
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Vincent Odigie
24.11.2020
Good afternoon from Nigeria ,I represent the Nigeria Volunteers Network
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In reply to by Vincent

Boram Kim
25.11.2020
Thank you for stopping by and saying hi, Vincent! I would be very keen on hearing from you about different approaches that we can consider to take volunteering to the next level, especially as we face a number of challenges globally that affect many aspects of our life at the local level. Climate change and inequalities are a few of them I could think of.
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Sarah Igobwa
25.11.2020
Through my experience in the village, we have to involve the rural women in their own community so that the impact is realised. They have to be part of the system. A womans life is all round. She is a home maker, she creates income, she is a mother, she is the first nurse in the home, she would come out to volunteer in various activities. In most cases, they are left behind to participate in leadership roles because they are busy doing these errands. If we could use the activities they are good at by encouraging them and add value to it by supporting them financially, train them, find market for their produce that creates some income, empower them they would gain confidence, take leadership roles and start achieving the SDG goals.
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In reply to by Sarah Igobwa

Boram Kim
25.11.2020
Hello Sarah, I am so happy to see your contribution based on your first hand experience from the village. Inspired by your thoughts, I could think of a few topics that are worth being looked at more systematically - the gender division of unpaid work in relation to measuring well-being in society through the volunteering lens, women and leadership through volunteering (bearing in mind though that volunteering is not always gender neutral as you precisely pointed out) and active citizenship or participation in productive activities for rural development based on the needs and solutions identified by rural women themselves.

My question back to you, Sarah, would be: how can we meaningfully engage those rural women in communities when achieving the SDGs? How would they see volunteering - what good or bad it does, for example? What are some of the critical aspects that we have to consider when engaging them?
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Juhee Woo
26.11.2020
From the Arab states, the Head of Women’s Organisation in the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, noted that equality in leadership positions within volunteering organisations is a useful way of promoting equality across the formal volunteering sector, and that the IRCS has done this by promoting both men and women to leadership positions. She emphasised the importance of private sector volunteering partnerships, and gave the example of a private partnership the ICRS agreed, which enabled the rebuilding of a training & development centre in Iraq, which is used to support young volunteers’
projects and boost their experience – contributing to the SDG 8.
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In reply to by Juhee.Woo

Boram Kim
27.11.2020
I like this example of promoting women and men equally for leadership positions. Much needed step for gender equality across the board. Volunteering itself is not fully gender-neutral, so this is worth being looked at further. Also, to make a real change, it would be important to look beyond the formal volunteering sector? It's a complex one to tackle, but it's inspiring to know that there is an organization like the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

On the private sector partnerships, how interesting that the partnerships entail supporting a specific SDG. We need more of these examples to diversify our evidence base, so keep those inspiring examples coming to our way, Juhee!
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Chris Millora
26.11.2020
Hi

I'm Chris Millora from the Philippines and really glad that we are having this discussion!

What has struck me about the world of volunteering is that there are so many aims, approaches and assumptions to it - and, my research has made me realise that often this models are being influenced by how people and polices understand 'development'. For example, many people think development is economic growth - so there are volunteering approaches where the focus is in measuring the economic contribution of volunteering. The abundance of these models point to two things - there are models that are more dominant while other models are less dominant. For example, it is only very recently that we are recognising the significance of informal volunteering - eg helping out an neighbour buy groceries, volunteering for church service etc - because the 'dominant model' have always been that volunteering is done through organisations like Red Cross, Save the Children, etc. The second aspect is that these diversity of models should be seen as a resource rather than a challenge - how do these different models interact? Do they support or crowd out each other? For example, in the Philippines, the politics of local responses to COVID-19 have led to volunteers being arrested under malicious (see some of my observations here: https://twitter.com/chrismillora/status/1258344478148001792).

Having said this, I believe that a valuable approach to volunteering is that of 'community participation'. This means that volunteering is seen less as a formal service delivery tool to achieve development outcomes (eg SDGs) rather as a helping activity that people do everyday, part of communities' cultures and identities. I have written a bit about this here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/en/publications/tolerance-and-inclusion-volunteering-enabling-community-cohesion-and-embracing-diversity(84f28874-4a94-48a3-80d2-ab224f87da15).html where I argue that everyday acts of helping brings communities together, when face with a shared problem, people turn to each other for support. When seen this way, we begin to realise that people are already contributing to the SDGs in various ways and scales - the challenge is how to document them and for institutions like the UN - how to support them and recognise them. So if we want to accelerate the SDGs - I think we need to look at these forms of local organising seriously. We need to think about to what extent can these be supported without influencing their efforts and co-opting their agenda!

What are some of the concrete steps to do this? It's difficult - and would be great to talk more but here are some ideas:
- When we develop a programme or policy, perhaps we can begin with asking what knowledges, practices, capacities are already existing in the communities we work with (and then take it from there!) rather than coming in with pre-set ideas/agenda/solutions.

- Related to this, there are loads of planning and research tools that are founded on participatory ethos. It's easy for people to say, 'yes let's listen to the voices of the poor!' or 'we need to involve 'poor women' in decision making' but how to do this? The Institute for Development Studies in the UK has put together this useful website https://www.participatorymethods.org/ where you can see practical tools on participatory methods - from participatory mapping exercises to participatory bugetting! Really interesting and fun methods and they have been effective, based on my experience, in engaging with people with various literacies as well!

- Finally, I think we need to embed a learning component in our programming and policy-making. When we write a policy or develop a programme, it is not always perfect - but wouldn't it be great if we can embed in the process a sense of reflection and action - whereby we think about about what we learn and then try and change things (even just a little)? I noticed that people often think of policies as a static process. You think of a problem, you offer a solution. When one embeds the lens of learning, he/she considers, who defines the problem? How can we learn from each other in terms of developing solutions?

That's all for now and looking forward to engaging more! :)
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In reply to by chrismillora

Boram Kim
27.11.2020
Hi Chris and really good to see you here again!

I kept nodding my head as I was reading your comment and am still nodding :-) It's also great that you help articulate some of our like-minded thinking. I am not always good at articulating!

Agreeing to all what you said, as someone associated with the UN, your point on letting communities and people look after the issues they care about without trying to fit in to something others created resonates me. I can't speak on behalf of the entire UN, but here are my small efforts that I have been practicing in my speaking and writing engagements recently:

Sustainable development or SDGs --> challenges or issues people/communities face (what's important to them?)
Volunteering --> people coming together to take action and also feel a sense of belonging (including to identify and agree on a problem that affects them and their families and to design a solution that works in their situation, for example)
Policy or policy integration --> how do we channel our voices and to whom to be heard?
New ideas --> existing and yet not all of us might not be aware of.

As this conversation will help shape next generation models of volunteering, I very much look forward to our further exchanges, particularly on appreciating "less dominant" models and some of the exciting participatory methods to be able to apply in the process.

Lastly, on the static process of understanding policy formulation, this is one of the reasons why UNV is looking to partner with innovation actors to be able to map solutions, then test in a real life and then modify and/or scale based on the outcome. But this is the territory much to be uncovered and I anticipate some trials and errors until many of us feel comfortable to take that chance.

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Sarah Igobwa
26.11.2020
Thank you Boram, I suggest the first thing we should do is to empower the woman. We should start with her mind. Traditionally, women did not attend this kind of meetings in most communities in Africa. They have to understand first that they have a part to play in the society. They matter and they have to be heard. And also make them know that their opinion is valued. We then move a step by empowering the economically by supporting them create income. Having her own money, will give her confidence to embrace the SDGs. eg, She will walk to a child's school knowing she can afford to buy what the school requires - Goal no 4. She will go back home with vegetables in the basket for her family Goal No2. She will be able to buy her immediate requirement in the home Goal no.1. etc.
We should then empower her by introducing to her the 17 SDGs. Let them know the importance of each SDG. Most of them if not all, do not know what SDGs are. Train them and give them an opportunity to suggest how they would like to participate in achieving each goal. Knowledge is very important here. Select a few women for example first from different areas then increase the number. Covid 19 may limit our efforts, but we could do it in different areas so that the whole community is covered.
Introduce them to the new technology as we go through the SDGs. They should be able to communicate effectively. Most of them have the old type of mobile phones. Very little knowledge on WhatsApp which is more effective. This would ease their training.
Not forgetting persons with disabilities(PWDs) should also be part of the training.
In order to make this successful, you should provide them with some allowances that will enable them to start up.
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In reply to by Sarah Igobwa

Boram Kim
27.11.2020
You are a great SDG ambassador, Sarah! Thank you so much for elaborating in detail. It much makes sense, and I hear that each rural woman is to own the SDGs as an important step and they have to be supported for it to be possible. And I really appreciate your bringing up the inclusion aspect, including PWDs, and the power of knowledge.
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Sarah Igobwa
27.11.2020
To add on what I has pointed out earlier, inorder to engage rural women more effectively, we shall keep in mind that very early morning hours are usually dedicated to do morning errands in the home. Once in a while, they could sacrifice and come for early morning meetings if there need be. So, their volunteer activities should be arranged at a convenient time for them to be productive. Some spouses may become a barrier but incase of such incidences, they would rotate duties daily. I would also suggest that this allowances to be given to those who have volunteered on that particular day. Allowances that are not honored will kill the vision and it will be very difficult to start off again. For the PWDs, there are some who cannot do particular activities, I would suggest collaboration with the Social Services department, for example here in Kenya who would guide and advice further. I think we shall have addressed the root of the rural problem and they will be happy to be part of the SDG achievement.
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Sarah Igobwa
27.11.2020
Thank you so much Borum. I believe together we shall achieve and make this world a better place.
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Discussion Moderators

Katrina Borromeo
Facilitator
Boram Kim
Facilitator

Discussion Members

Katrina Borromeo
Member
Boram Kim
Member
Piera Zuccherin
Member
Vincent Odigie
Member
Marcelo Nonohay
Member
Sarah Igobwa
Member
Juhee Woo
Member
Chris Millora
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