Tracking an unseen economy: Major gathering presents new study to help measure economic value of volunteering

The high-level Global Volunteering Conference taking place in Budapest celebrates the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, which called on governments to improve their measurement of volunteer work. Participants at sessions on Saturday 17 September will be introduced to the new Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Center for Civil Society Studies supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

News | 15 September 2011

BUDAPEST (ILO News) - The high-level Global Volunteering Conference taking place in Budapest celebrates the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, which called on governments to improve their measurement of volunteer work.

Participants at sessions on Saturday 17 September will be introduced to the new Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Center for Civil Society Studies supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

Previous estimates by the Johns Hopkins Center showed that, even conservatively estimated, the value of volunteering across just 37 countries amounted at least $400 billion. However, the lack of comparable data on global volunteering has left it under-valued and its full potential unrealized.

The Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, which was unveiled online in March this year, aims to help statisticians and economists measure the value of volunteer work at the national, regional and global levels by tracking the amount, type and value of volunteer work in their countries. Available now in print, the manual provides the first internationally sanctioned guidance for generating reliable, official data on volunteer work using a common definition and approach.

"Millions of people work as volunteers, and have a massive role in national economies. But until now, there have been few agreed methods to properly keep track of this unseen contribution"

“This long-awaited manual will really boost the visibility of volunteer work,” said UNV Executive Coordinator, Flavia Pansieri. “By providing an agreed methodology for measuring the significance of volunteering, it will help governments create better volunteering policy and legislation. In turn, that will help volunteers at the grassroots do what they do best, which is making an impact on sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals, peace-building and humanitarian assistance.”

Co-hosted by UNV and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) the Global Volunteering Conference has gathered leaders from governments, NGOs, UN agencies and other international organizations to discuss ‘Volunteering for a Sustainable Future’.  

The Conference will close on 17 September with a declaration on volunteering which may inspire future United Nations General Assembly decisions.

About the International Year of Volunteers +10:

Volunteering empowers change from the grassroots up, especially when enabled by strong partnerships at every level. It is 10 years since the International Year of Volunteers, and the United Nations has called for this anniversary to be marked across the planet. The partners’ aims are to promote and recognize volunteering’s positive impact on peace and development, to reinforce volunteering networks, and to help all people make a difference through volunteering. www.iyvplus10.org

About UNV:

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.www.unvolunteers.org

Contact:

Philip Sen, Communications Officer, United Nations Volunteers

Tel: +49 (0)174 757 3209

Email: philip.sen@unvolunteers.org

About the ILO:

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues. It is the only tripartite United Nations agency that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly draw up and oversee international labour standards, shape policies and programmes promoting Decent Work for all. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating 'real world' knowledge about employment and work.  www.ilo.org

About JHUCenter for Civil Society Studies:

The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies is a leading source of research and knowledge about the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and volunteering globally. The Center works with governments, international organizations, and colleagues around the world to improve the visibility and capacity of nonprofit organizations, most recently by promoting implementation of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work by national statistical offices and the development of a mechanism to collect and report on the results. www.ccss.jhu.edu