The Global Agenda for Action
to Strengthen Volunteering

 

Draft Presented to the Participants of
the 16th World Volunteer Conference

By the Board of Directors
Of
IAVE – The International Association for Volunteer Effort

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
January 2001

 

This material was developed through the participatory process described in the Introduction. It is shared with the participants in the World Volunteer Conference with the understanding that it will undergo further revision before being finally approved by the IAVE board of directors. However, it was felt that it was important to share this draft with conference participants to stimulate dialogue and to invite further suggestions.

 

Introduction | About the Sectors | About the Objectives | Volunteer Sector |
Governmental Sector | Business Sector | Educational Sector | Media Sector |
Adult and Youth Sector

Introduction

The International Year of Volunteers (IYV) provides a framework within which organizations, communities, and nations can reflect on their traditions of volunteering, can learn more about the current nature and scope of volunteering, and can engage the interest and support of leaders from all sectors of society. But, most importantly, it is a time when those concerned about the future of volunteering can join together to create and implement plans that will strengthen volunteering as a vital force for social change and as a way people can contribute to the solution of human, social and environmental problems and build healthy, sustainable communities.

The declaration of IYV by the United Nations reflects the growing recognition that volunteering is the fundamental building block of civil society. Volunteering is an increasingly credible way to build and sustain the institutions of civil society, to help solve serious problems, to create healthier communities, and to empower people to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. It is particularly important in this time of globalization and rapid change in which the gaps between rich and poor are growing and our collective destinies are endangered by forces that seem beyond the control of most people.

IAVE – The International Association for Volunteer Effort has accepted leadership for addressing what can be done by various sectors of society to strengthen volunteering. Beginning with its 15th World Volunteer Conference in Edmonton, Canada in 1998, IAVE has invited suggestions from volunteer and other sector leaders throughout the world to assist in the creation of a new Universal Declaration on Volunteering and a Global Agenda for Action. Input was received from participants in IAVE regional conferences and meetings, from local and national volunteer centres, and from a diverse group of NGOs and individual volunteer leaders.

In January 2001, under the leadership of Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk, the Dutch National Volunteer Center, the 16th World Volunteer Conference was convened in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with over 1,500 participants from some 110 countries. The conference brought together representatives of government, business, education, youth and volunteer organizations. In a wide variety of plenary and workshop sessions, they focused on the five main objectives set for the International Year of Volunteers:

With the assistance of a team of volunteer reporters and the active cooperation of workshop leaders and the participants themselves, a great number of ideas were generated about how each major sector can contribute to the realization of each objective. It was particularly important that the conference organizers created special opportunities for the participation of leaders from government, business, and research. The pre-conference Youth Forum was the first time that a significant number of young volunteers from throughout the world were brought together to provide their ideas to increase and strengthen youth volunteering. Other volunteer groups have been integrated into their appropriate sector; for example, employees who volunteer are included in the corporate information.

Taken together, the participants of the conference represent a true cross-section of volunteering worldwide. Their experience, perspective and ideas have contributed to the development of the three products contained in this publication:

The Universal Declaration on Volunteering that calls volunteers and the leaders of all sectors to unite as partners to promote and support effective volunteering, accessible to all, as a symbol of solidarity among all peoples and nations.

The Global Agenda for Action that outlines a wide range of ideas for how each major sector can help to realize the five objectives of the International Year of Volunteers, providing a "checklist of possibilities" that will grow longer and deeper with the experience of the year.

The Youth Forum Statement developed by participants in that meeting, that urges specific actions by IAVE, the volunteer community, and youth themselves to empower young people to give effective leadership for their own volunteer activities.

These are intended to be living documents that grow and change with the actual experience of leaders worldwide. Through the power of the Internet and the commitment of all of us to provide input about our work, our successes, and our challenges, the Global Agenda for Action can become an ever-growing compendium of ideas about how all sectors can fulfil their responsibility to strengthen volunteering. IAVE invites continued reaction and input to both the Agenda and the Universal Declaration through its Secretariat:

Email: IAVE@iave.org
Fax: 202-729-8102
Mail: 1400 I Street NW
Washington DC 20005

and urges all to review this input on its web site – www.iave.org.

We are deeply grateful to all of those who helped to create these documents. Theo Van Loon and the board and staff of NOV opened the World Conference to this process, providing both a setting and an approach that encouraged and facilitated input from participants. Suzanne Bakker designed and led the process of data collection, compilation and analysis at the conference; created the first draft of the Agenda; and co-authored the final version. Kathleen Dennis, Executive Director of IAVE, led the collection of input to the Universal Declaration and co-authored the final version of the Agenda. Members of the board of directors of IAVE gave leadership in their regions to collecting input to the Declaration and provided extensive input to the Agenda. The board reviewed, modified, and adopted each document on behalf of the worldwide IAVE network and volunteers everywhere.

The cooperative effort that led to the creation of the Universal Declaration and the Global Agenda reflect our aspiration that, together, we can make the International Year of Volunteers the year that will change the world.

Kenn Allen, Ed.D

World President

IAVE

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About the Sectors

Volunteering is a fundamental and essential element of society. It is in the best interest of each of the major sectors to ensure that volunteering grows stronger, more inclusive and more effective. Together, they can:

Volunteer Organizations benefit because volunteers are a powerful source of time, talent and energy that can directly help organizations achieve their missions and priorities. Volunteers complement the work of paid staff, extending their capacity, and bring new perspectives and energies. Organizations help strengthen volunteering by creating "volunteer-friendly environments" that help volunteers build their knowledge and skills, enable paid staff and volunteers to work as partners, and manage volunteers with respect, learning from them in order to strengthen the organization.

Government benefits from strong volunteering because involved people are more engaged citizens who participate in the affairs of the community, who advocate for more effective government action, and who assist government in carrying out its work. In support of volunteering, government can: encourage people to volunteer; ensure that laws and government policies do not create barriers to volunteering; do an excellent job in managing those volunteers who work within government agencies and programs; provide support for the infrastructure needed to sustain volunteering, particularly local and national volunteer centres; and, provide funding for the development of innovative approaches to engaging volunteers in response to specific needs or national/local priorities.

Business benefits when it engages its workers as volunteers because volunteering is a way to develop their skills, knowledge, and leadership capacity. When businesses encourage their workers to volunteer, they present themselves as a more attractive workplace to current and prospective workers. They also enhance their public image and help to create communities that are better places for them to pursue their business. Volunteering is a strategic resource to help them achieve their business goals. Business can provide leadership, talent, energy, funding and other resources for volunteering.

Education benefits because volunteering is an effective way for students to develop their knowledge and skills. When organized appropriately, communities can become places of learning, supporting classroom experiences and allowing students to actually experience that which they are studying. Service-learning – which includes opportunities for student reflection on their service – can happen at all levels of education, providing age-appropriate opportunities for students to be involved in their communities. The education community also is an important source of research on volunteering.

Media benefits because volunteering creates interesting stories of the ways in which people are helping one another and making their communities better places in which to live and work. Coverage of stories about the work of volunteers demonstrates the commitment of media to serve the entire community. Media is a powerful tool to promote volunteering, helping create a public environment that encourages people to volunteer and providing information that gives people access to volunteer opportunities.

Other sectors also can assist in strengthening volunteering. Religious bodies, for example, can affirm the role of volunteering in responding to the spiritual call to service to those in need that is a common element of major religions. Private philanthropy can provide financial resources to support volunteering and stimulate innovations in mobilization and management of volunteers.

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About the Objectives

There are five primary objectives that have been articulated for IYV.

Recognition of the value and impact of volunteering and of the work of being done by volunteers. How do we convince other sectors of the importance of volunteering, thus enlisting their support? How do we document the impact that volunteers have and the nature and value of the contribution they make? How do we reflect volunteering in national accounts? How do we hold up for public recognition and celebration the work of individual volunteers? How do we identify and learn about particularly creative, innovative, and effective volunteer efforts?

Promotion of volunteering, encouraging people to become volunteers and providing the information and access they need to become volunteers. How do we convince people who are busy and pressured to commit the time to be volunteers? How do we provide opportunities for people to volunteer for short terms without losing the commitment of people to volunteer jobs that require long-term involvement? How do we make best use of new technology to connect people who want to volunteer with the opportunities to do so? How do we balance the use of the media for promotional campaigns with the proven impact of one on one recruitment of new volunteers?

Facilitation of volunteering through effective practices of mobilization and management and through the development and maintenance of the organizational structures needed to promote and support volunteering. How do we develop new knowledge about "best practices" in the management of volunteers? How do we build the skills of those responsible for managing volunteers? How do we create "volunteer friendly environments" within organizations that engage volunteers, including the commitment of adequate resources for the management of volunteers? How do we build visible and effective national and local leadership organizations for volunteering?

Networking that strengthens volunteering by combining resources in mutually beneficial ways to increase impact. How do we create effective partnerships among NGOs to expand and strengthen volunteering? How do we build partnerships between volunteer organizations and other sectors of society? How do we build community and national networks through which volunteer leaders can learn from and support one another? How do we build global networks that transfer knowledge, skills and experience to develop volunteering worldwide?

Participation that ensures that all people – regardless of their cultural and ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, and physical, social or economic condition – have the right and the opportunity to participate as volunteers. How do we reduce barriers to volunteering? How do we take into account cultural and values differences in the recruitment and management of volunteers? How do we ensure that volunteers have the opportunity to participate in the planning and management of their work?

There are no final answers to questions such as these. The Global Agenda for Action poses a variety of suggestions of what can be done, based on the experience and knowledge of those who have helped to construct it. The challenge to the global volunteer community is to continuously expand and update this agenda, adding best practices that move toward those answers.

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Volunteer Sector

Recognition

Volunteer organizations can:

Facilitation

Volunteer organizations can:

 

Network Development

Volunteer organizations can:

Promotion

Volunteer organizations can:

Participation

Volunteer organizations can:

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Governmental Sector

Recognition

Governments can:

Facilitation

Governments can:

Network Development

Governments can:

Promotion

Governments can:

Participation

Governments can:

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Business Sector

Recognition

Businesses can:

Facilitation

Businesses can:

Network Development

Businesses can:

Promotion

Businesses can:

Participation

Businesses can:

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Educational Sector

Recognition

Educational institutions can:

Facilitation

Educational institutions can:

Network Development

Educational institutions can:

Promotion

Educational institutions can:

Participation

Educational institutions can:

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Media Sector

Recognition

Media can:

Promotion

Media can:

Facilitation

Media can:

Network Development

Media can:

Participation

Media can:

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Adult and Youth Sector

This Youth Forum Statement is the Written result of the XVI th IAVE Pre-conference. The statements and actions listed within are the results of the hard work of some 150 participants through workshops and interactive training sessions. Itís not meant to be an exhaustive list of actions: it represents the management summary of the Youth Forumís ideas. This document does not stand on its own: we build upon the results of previous gatherings (for example the meeting on Youth Voluntarism in Latin America in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, May 9th 2000).

STRENGTHENING PATHWAYS BETWEEN ADULTS and YOUTH TO EMPOWER VOLUNTEERING

RECOGNITION
Statement: respect for diversity in all its forms, including age, is fundamental for recognition

FACILITATION
Statement: volunteering is facilitated by access to resources such as recruitment, orientation, training, evaluation and mentoring of youth at all stages

PROMOTION
Statement: the perception of volunteering must be improved by showing its positive impact on the community as well as the volunteersí satisfaction and opportunities

NETWORKING
Statement: exchanging ideas and experiences with others, both youth and adults, enhances the effectiveness of the volunteering activities

The Youth Forum considers youth participation essential for implementation of the aforementioned statements
YOUTH PARTICIPATION: ďdonít ask how old we are, as us who we areĒ Statement: youth participation is necessary to ensure successful volunteering now and in the future

IAVE Youth Forum declares that RECOGNOTION, FACILITATION, NETWORKING, PROMOTION and especially YOUTH PARTICIPATION are key to strengthening the pathways between adults and youth to empower volunteering.
Declared at the IAVE Youth Forum during the XVIth IAVE World Conference IYV, 14-18 January 2001. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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