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Volunteering is very inspiring and is important for community development, but is it really relevant to statistical data-gathering efforts?
Current labour force statistics are overlooking an enormous amount of the work being done. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has determined these activities should be counted and its scale made known.
Isn’t volunteering done during leisure time? Doesn’t this mean it does not really have economic value?
The ILO and its 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians have officially recognized that volunteering is a form of “work,” that it has economic value, and that this value should be systematically counted. In response, many countries are already counting it.
Volunteering in our country is unique. How can it be measured the same way it is measured elsewhere?
The Manual was developed in cooperation with an international Technical Experts Group and specifically designed to be workable in the widest possible range of countries. Countries as diverse as Brazil, Norway, South Africa, Poland, Italy and Hungary have already agreed to adopt it.
We can’t afford to add more surveys to the workload of our statistical agency at the present time.
The Manual does not require a new survey. It utilizes your existing labour force or other household surveys, and takes advantage of existing national classification systems and structures. The volunteering module is only two pages long. This should not add substantially to costs and can be handled with existing, trained staff.
Our labour force survey is already over-burdened. Even if we wanted to measure volunteering, we couldn’t include all of the questions the Manual recommends.
The ILO Manual is very efficient. It maximizes the information gathered with the minimum number of questions. Field tests suggest that most respondents will cite only one or two volunteer activities, reducing the time required. However, it is possible to consider other survey platforms if using the LFS is not an option.
How can we estimate the value of volunteer work since by definition volunteers are not paid a wage?
It is easy to figure out the value of volunteer work once we know the jobs volunteers perform and the hours that they work.
Using standard classification systems, it is possible to find an average wage for these types of work. This “replacement cost” approach is widely accepted by economists and statisticians and is what the Manual recommends.