World Volunteer Web Home  
Volunteerism worldwide: News, views & resources
  Home   About us   Contact us   Contribute   Search   Sitemap 
Time to check bogus volunteer organizations
07 January 2008
by Oken Jeet Sandham

Volunteerism has played important role in human civilization. The

people of the north east region especially tribal are seen expanding

their voluntarism beyond their periphery and today they have built

global network from their areas. After the advent of the Christianity

in the north east, the people of north east have picked up the thread

of volunteerism with the outside world particularly the Western


Volunteerism is about people helping, learning and actively

participating in communities. Volunteerism has no borders. It is a

cross-cutting social phenomenon that involves all groups in society and

all aspects of human activity. It can take many different forms,

depending on cultural and economic realities of countries and

communities. The volunteerism is also participation or civic

engagement. This refers to the role played by individuals in the

governance process, from representation on government consultation

bodies to use involvement in local development projects. As a form of

volunteering, it is found in all countries, although it is most

developed in countries with a strong tradition of civic engagement.

Mutual aid in many parts of the world constitutes the main system of

social and economic support. It often plays a primary role in the

welfare of communities in developing countries, from small informal

kinship and clan groupings to more formal associations and welfare

groups. It also plays an important role in industrialized countries,

particularly in the health and social welfare field, providing support

and assistance to those in need.

Philanthropy or service to others is distinguished from mutual aid in

that the primary recipient of the volunteering is not the member of the

group him or herself, but an external third party, although most people

would acknowledge that philanthropy includes an element of

self-interest. This type of volunteering takes place typically within

voluntary or community organizations, although in certain countries

there is strong tradition of volunteering within the public sector and

a growing interest in volunteering in the corporate sector. There is

also longstanding tradition of volunteers being sent from one country

to another to offer development and humanitarian assistance, both North

to South and South to South.

Advocacy or campaigning is also a form of volunteerism which may be a

change in legislation affecting the right of people with disabilities,

or introduction of anti-discrimination measures. Through advocacy and

campaigning, volunteers have paved the way for the introduction of new

welfare services in the field of HIV/AIDS, have raised public

consciousness about human rights and the environment and have been

active in the women’s movement.

Voluntarism is an ancient and global phenomenon. Since the beginning of

civilization, a fundamental human value has been people helping people

and, in the process, helping themselves. Most cultures have names to

describe it: Baranguay in the Philippines ; benevolat and volontariat

in France ; gotong royong in Indonesia ; harambee in Kenya ; shrmadana

in India ; mingu in Andean countries; and al taawun wal tawasul in many

Arab States. The act is familiar even where the word “volunteer’ is not.

Volunteerism is strongly influenced by the history, politics, religion

and culture of communities. What may be valued as volunteerism in one

country may be dismissed as low-paid or labor-intensive work in

another. Despite the wide variety of understandings, it is possible to

identify some core characteristics of what constitutes voluntary


India is yet to formulate legal framework and still many voluntary

organizations in the country and hundreds in the north east have been

receiving foreign aids, most of the time directly from the donors.

Thus, in the absence of a clear legal definition of what constitutes

voluntary work and a volunteer, some laws and regulations can

inadvertently have an impact on voluntary action. States should pay

careful attention to the way in which international and domestic

regulations can affect volunteerism in their country. The Ministry of

External Affairs has recently notified that all the funds coming from

foreign countries to voluntary organizations whether Governmental or

Non-Governmental Organizations in the country should be properly

screened by the Ministry and they should accordingly apply for


Numerous Voluntary organizations including Christian ones are

mushrooming in the region; many of them are purely for monetary

benefits. Voluntary activity is not undertaken primarily for financial

reward. It is undertaken voluntarily, according to an individual’s own

free will. Voluntary activity brings benefits to people other than the

volunteer, although it is recognized that volunteering brings

significant benefit to volunteers as well. It is high time to check

such bogus Voluntary Organizations.