Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work

This Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work is intended to guide countries in generating systematic and comparable data on volunteer work via regular supplements to labour force or other household surveys. The objective is to make available comparative cross-national data on a significant form of work that is growing in importance but that is often ignored or rarely captured in traditional economic statistics. Doing so will help to fulfill the United Nations Secretary General’s recommendations in his follow-up to the implementation of the International Year of Volunteers report (United Nations, 2005) that governments “vigorously” pursue “actions to build up a knowledge base” about volunteer work and to “establish the economic value of volunteering.”


Volunteer work, often referred to simply as “volunteering,” is a crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem-solving the world over. The scale of such work is enormous and the contributions it makes to the quality of life in countries everywhere larger still. Despite this, however, little sustained effort has gone into its measurement.