International Volunteer Day: when the difference is made

By December 14, 2016Social Investment

The origins of the International volunteer day begin on the 5th of December 1985, when the United Nations designated this day as an international tradition to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. The theme of the International Volunteer Day 2016 was #GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand, aiming at recognising volunteers worldwide.

The act of volunteering is found across cultures in all countries, languages, and religions. It gives an opportunity to raise awareness about the world being a better place when people contribute to communities – nationally and internationally. The mission of volunteerism, according to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, is to: eradicate poverty, achieve primary education, gender equality, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS or other major diseases and help endure environmental sustainability. On IVD 2016 the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon stated: “Volunteering gives the most marginalised people in society an opportunity to get involved in the decision-making process.”

“You [volunteers] are all instrumental to the future of people and the planet. Your commitment and passion can act as inspiration to us all.” UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in Burundi they are working to foster and encourage social cohesion amongst young people affected by conflict. Today, more than 100 volunteers are working to increase the civic participation, to sustain peace and ensure meaningful connections within the community.

However, the UN is not the only active party  in this program, with huge input being provided by organisations. Corporate volunteering is when companies allow paid time off (PTO) to their employees so that they can volunteer for the cause of their choice. For example, in France the corporate volunteering, estimated by Admical, has experienced a significant increase this year. By way of illustration, SNCF Foundation gives their employees 10 days of PTO annually to assist in volunteerism by contributing their field of expertise to ones in need of acquiring new skills or managing projects.

“The UN is not the only active party in this program, with huge input being provided by organisations”

In the future, more and more companies should encourage and support their employees to volunteer. This will allow an organisation to: define their CSR initiatives, improve their image, build on teamwork, enhance their leadership and professional skills, and give back to the communities on different levels. According to New York Cares, “73% of employees wish their companies would do more to support a social or environmental cause or issue.” More importantly, 3 out of 4 employees admit that they’d like to get involved with their company’s cause-related effort through company-sponsored days of service. In the United States, an organisation’s reputation in the community is the second most important driver of employee engagement and, correspondingly, companies with high levels of employee engagement witness an average of 19% annual increase in operating income.

If you have already committed to social issues or you wish to contribute in community investments but encounter difficulties managing and selecting the best fit for cause of interest, feel free to contact us and we might be able to help you.


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