VOLUNTEERING AND VOLUNTARY ACTIVITIES
A wide range of activities undertaken of free will, for the general public good, for which monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor (United Nations General Assembly A/RES/57/106)
FORMAL VOLUNTEERING (also referred to as ORGANIZATION-BASED VOLUNTEERING)
Voluntary activity undertaken through an organization; typified by volunteers making an ongoing or sustained commitment to an organization and contributing their time on a regular basis.
INFORMAL VOLUNTEERING (also referred to as DIRECT VOLUNTEERING )
Voluntary activities done directly, unmediated by any formal organization that coordinates larger-scale volunteer efforts.
THE 2030 AGENDA AND ITS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The 2030 Agenda is a Plan of Action for people, planet and prosperity. Its 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all (United Nations General Assembly A/RES/70/1).
ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR VOLUNTEERING
An enabling environment for volunteering is an environment in which volunteering can thrive. It can be achieved through the strategic integration of volunteering into existing national development priorities and plans, as well as through stand-alone volunteering infrastructure (see definition below) provided by public, non-profit and private sector actors.
An enabling environment works to maximize the benefits of volunteering for development outcomes and minimize its risks for volunteers. Such an environment has a number of underlying principles: the freedom to volunteer, gender equality in volunteering, the safety and security of all volunteers and the voice and recognition of volunteer groups.
Volunteering infrastructure is a suite of tools that can be used as part of an enabling environment for volunteering. They can include policies, legislation, schemes, bodies and programmes established by public and private actors to provide volunteers with opportunities and support.
LAWS AND LEGISLATION ON VOLUNTEERING
National laws on volunteering provide a framework for volunteer arrangements. They are often used to distinguish volunteering from other activities, particularly employment. Volunteering laws tend to remove legal obstacles to volunteerism by defining “volunteers” and “volunteering”, clarifying the rights and duties of volunteers and providing a single document that deals with volunteer engagement. Laws and legislation may also establish formal bodies or institutional arrangements to support volunteering.
NATIONAL VOLUNTEERING POLICIES
Policies on volunteering set out public plans and investment to support volunteer action in a particular country or context. They tend to be medium-term initiatives with a specific goal, such as increasing volunteering efforts among a specific target group or establishing a new sectoral programme on volunteering.
NATIONAL VOLUNTEERING SCHEMES
Volunteering schemes are established by the national government and/or regional bodies for citizens to contribute to their own or host communities, build their professional skills and competencies and promote a culture of volunteerism. These public schemes are often referred to as national civic service or citizen service and are one of many possible approaches for engaging volunteers. In many countries they target young people during their transition from education to employment. Volunteer schemes can be underpinned by laws, legislation or policies on volunteering.
NATIONAL SECTORAL AND CROSS-SECTORAL POLICIES AND SCHEMES THAT INTEGRATE VOLUNTEERING
There are many other policies and schemes that can have an impact on volunteering in specific contexts. For example, policies on civil society engagement or civic education often incorporate aspects of volunteering. Sectoral policies, such as those on health, education and the environment can also provide a framework for investment and partnerships with volunteers or the establishment of new schemes and programmes that engage volunteers. Gender policies may include goals and targets relevant to volunteering, such as for women’s leadership and representation or gender and care work.