European Volunteer Measurement Project

Article by Diego Beamonte, traduction française Kate O'Dwyer, traducción española Ana Beltrán
03 October 2011

Volunteering is a crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem-solving, but its effective management requires better information and an enabling policy environment. For a couple of days on September 28-29 2011, ICV participated in a technical workshop organized by the European Volunteer Measurement Project in Warsaw.

Launched during the European Year of Volunteering 2011, the European Volunteer Measurement Project is a collaboration between the European Volunteer Centre (CEV), Centro di Servizio per il Voluntario del Lazio (SPES), and the authors of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS).  The aim of this project is to disseminate said Manual and promote its implementation throughout Europe to help ensure effective management of volunteering by providing better information.

Collecting accurate, comparable data on volunteering is the best way to ensure effective and enabling policy and management on the regional, national, and Europe-wide level to allow this crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem solving to realize its full potential. In fact, volunteering is so important to the non-profit sector, in developed countries, 44% of the non-profit workforce are volunteers. In Switzerland alone, 2.6% of the overall workforce is composed of volunteers, while in Sweden it amounts up to 7.1%, according to the John Hopkins Comparative Non-Profit Sector Project. However, in all but a handful of countries, no reliable, comparable data exist to gauge the extent and character of volunteering. As a result, volunteering remains under-valued and its potentials under-realized. This realization is what drove the development of the ILO Manual.

The importance of volunteering is often undervalued from a economical stance, however, improvements in accountability and measurement of volunteer work in Canada have led to some surprising results. In a comparison between volunteers and workers of certain industries, volunteers were found to contribute .1 billion to GDP the while the motor vehicle and agricultural sectors contributed .1 and .8 billion respectively.

Collecting accurate, comparable data on volunteering is the best way to ensure effective and enabling policy and management on the regional, national, and Europe-wide level to allow this crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem solving to realize its full potential. However, in all but a handful of countries, no reliable, comparable data exist to gauge the extent and character of volunteering. As a result, volunteering remains under-valued and its potentials under-realized. This realization is what drove the development of the ILO Manual.

Ms. Krebs has returned to the ICVolunteers headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with the goal of empowering volunteers and their recognition around Europe and the world by boosting their visibility and credibility. In accordance to the ILO Manual, ICV wants to be an active promoter, as well as an actor in improving the management of volunteering, assess the effectiveness of volunteer promotion agencies, document the enormous impact of volunteer efforts and disseminate data and results.

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