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Launched during the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Year of the Volunteer (IYV+10), the Global Volunteer Measurement Project is a collaboration between international volunteer promotion agencies and the authors of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, which aims to disseminate this Manual and promote its implementation around the world.
Volunteering is a crucial renewable resource for social and environmental problem-solving the world over, but its effective management requires better information and an enabling policy environment. Existing data compiled by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS) through their Comparative Nonprofit Sector (CNP) and UN Nonprofit Handbook projects give a tantalizing taste of the truly enormous impact that volunteers can and do have. For instance, based on the 37 countries studied, it is estimated that approximately 140 million people engage in volunteer work in a typical year, which taken together, would comprise the eighth largest country in the world. Put another way, these volunteers represent the equivalent of 20.8 million full-time equivalent jobs (including 44 percent of the nonprofit workforce), and contribute US$400 million to the global economy.
This information resulted from efforts by CCSS to demonstrate the importance of volunteering to the nonprofit sector in countries around the world, which it has been researching for over 25 years. After years of work to gather the data on a country-by-country basis, CCSS realized that a more systematic way was needed to ensure that comparable data is gathered regularly. To that end, in 2003, CCSS joined with the United Nations Statistics Division to develop the UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts. This Handbook provides the guidance and tools needed to allow national statistical agencies to produce and publish regular data on the nonprofit sector, they way they do for most other sectors of the economy. As a crucial part of that, it calls on governments to include data on the amount of volunteering that takes place in the nonprofit sector.
Despite this success, it soon became clear that this would be a difficult recommendation for countries to follow because, in all but a handful of countries, no reliable data exist to gauge the extent and character of volunteering. What data do exist have been assembled through one-time surveys utilizing diverse definitions and approaches to data-gathering, meaning that the findings are inconsistent and no systematic comparisons are possible either across countries or over time. As a result, volunteering remains under-valued and its potentials under-realized. This realization is what drove the development of the ILO Manual, which has been specifically designed to measure the amount and character of volunteering through regular labor force or other household surveys, making it both feasible and affordable to implement regularly. Adoption and implementation of this new Manual will:
• Boost the visibility and credibility of volunteering.
• Improve the management of volunteering.
• Assess effectiveness of volunteer promotion agencies.
• Document the enormous impact of volunteer effort.
• Promote a more enabling policy environment for volunteering.
• Create a lasting legacy for IYV+10.
The ILO Manual offers the first official, permanent system for the collection of cross-nationally comparable data on volunteering. Issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO), it provides 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. It has been developed with the help of an international Technical Experts Group to be efficient, feasible, and cost-effective to implement in the widest possible range of countries, and to generate the most comprehensive, comparable, reliable data possible.
Improving the measurement of volunteering, and use of the ILO Manual to do so, has the support of numerous governing bodies and policy makers, including the Council of the European Union, the European Commission unit in charge of the European Year of Volunteering, the European Parliamentary Volunteering Interest Group, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians, and the Statistics Department of the International Labour Organization.
Statistics offices of Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, Norway, Poland, Italy, and Hungary have already agreed to implement it. However, implementation in other countries is not guaranteed; this is why the GVMP exists.
The Project (GVMP)
The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies (CCSS), the International Association of Volunteer Effort, (IAVE) and Global Service Leaders (GSL), have joined forces to bring all interested parties together to push for implementation of this Manual. We must take advantage of the existing momentum and interest in the vital role that volunteers and volunteering play arising from the IYV+10 to put into place a permanent system that will keep those issues in the forefront of policy circles and public debates long past the end of 2011. We invite you to explore this site or to contact us at email@example.com to learn how you can help to build that momentum and see the work of volunteers and those who support them fully recognized by statistical agencies, policy makers, and the public.