frequently asked questions

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What is the Global Volunteer Measurement Project (GVMP)?
The Global Volunteer Measurement Project is a coalition of volunteer promotion organizations, the authors of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteering, and statistical agencies which aims to disseminate this Manual and promote its implementation around the world.
Why do we need to measure volunteering?
Volunteering is a crucial renewable resource for social, economic, and environmental problem-solving around the world.
However, despite its enormous contributions, volunteering has long been marginalized in policy circles and public debates. One reason for this has been the general lack of solid and reliable information on the scope, scale, distribution, and impact of volunteering. Solid data will demonstrate the contribution of volunteer effort, help us to understand the character of these activities, and allow countries to design more supportive volunteer policies.
What is the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteering?
The ILO Manual offers the first official, permanent system for the collection of data on volunteering.
It is being issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to provide national statistical agencies with a common definition and methodology for measuring the amount and character of volunteering through regular labour force or other household surveys.
Some surveys have already been done on volunteering. Why do we need a new approach?
While a significant amount of data has been gathered on volunteering in some countries, there has been no common definition, methodology or approach utilized.
Most existing data have been assembled through one-time surveys utilizing diverse definitions, or through large general purpose surveys that often use small samples and only one or two questions about volunteering. As a result, findings are inconsistent, no systematic comparisons are possible either across countries or over time, and opportunities to assess approaches to volunteer management and promotion are being lost.
What is the advantage of using the ILOManual?
The ILO Manual represents the first-ever internationally sanctioned approach for gathering official data on volunteering.
It is cost-effective, efficient, reliable, and feasible in a wide variety of countries. It will generate cross-nationally comparable data on the number of volunteers, the volunteering rate, the demographic characteristics of volunteers, the types of activity that volunteers do, and the contribution that volunteers make at the local, national, regional, and global level.
How will implementing the ILO Manual help our country?
Measuring volunteering in a systematic and comparable way will have several advantages for volunteers, policymakers, the nonprofit sector, and the general population.
It will boost the visibility of volunteering, encourage more volunteer involvement, provide a basis to gauge the effectiveness of volunteer promotion efforts, and create a more enabling policy environment for volunteer activity, all of which will allow volunteers to expand the already notable contributions they make to improving health, expanding educational opportunities, promoting economic growth, and responding to disasters.
Who recommends the ILO Manual?
The Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians, the Statistics Department of the International Labour Organization, Global Service Leaders (GSL), and the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE) have endorsed the ILO Manual. In addition, the statistics offices of Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, Norway, Poland, Italy, and Hungary have already agreed to implement it.
How was the ILO Manual prepared?
The ILO Manual was prepared under the auspices of the International Labour Organization by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in cooperation with an international Technical Experts Group of volunteering researchers and statisticians from 13 countries. It was field tested in five countries, approved in concept by the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in November 2008, and accepted in final form by the International Labour Organizations in March 2011.
How does the ILOManual define volunteer work?
“Unpaid non-compulsory work; that is, time individuals give without pay to activities performed either through an organization or directly for others outside their own household.”
Volunteering is thus:

  • A form of work; i.e., it produces something of value.
  • Non-compulsory; i.e., that is undertaken willingly.
  • Not paid, though some forms of expense reimbursement may be permitted.
  • Conducted either through organizations or directly for other individuals, as long as they are not part of the volunteer’s household.

Is the survey module going to gather as much information as we need?
The ILO Manual is very efficient.
It will generate an enormous amount of data on who volunteers, what work they do, what organizations they work through, and how all of this varies among countries and over time. If funding is available, the GVMP plans to develop additional model questions that countries can use to tap other facets of volunteer activities, such as: the motivations of volunteers, barriers to volunteering, the impact of the activity on the volunteers themselves, and the factors associated with successful volunteer engagements.
What is the cost of implementing the ILO Manual?
The ILO Manual was designed to minimize costs.
It does not require a new survey. Instead, it utilizes existing labour force or other household surveys, and takes advantage of existing national classification systems and structures. The volunteering module is very short, should not add substantially to existing costs, and can be handled with existing, trained staff.
How can we help get the ILO Manual implemented in our country?

  • Join – the European Volunteer Measurement Project.
  • Communicate – Publish information about the ILO Manual and the GVMP.
  • Mobilize – Involve colleagues and other organisations.
  • Contact – Begin a conversation with labour force statisticians.
  • Partner – Work in partnership with other CSOs and labour statistics officials.
  • Disseminate – After implementation, make sure the results are widely known.
  • Support – Provide financial support to the GVMP.
  • Contact