2015 State of the World's Volunteerism Report (UNV, 2015)

Advancing knowledge and innovation for volunteerism

UNV collects and translates the knowledge and innovation into evidence for policy solutions that are built on successful examples of where volunteerism has made a difference.

UNV aims to enhance and deepen engagement with academia, research institutions and civil society, civic society, volunteer experts and researchers to promote a global conversation about the role of volunteerism in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To enhance engagement with these actors, UNV emphasizes in its work knowledge and innovation on the one hand - to build the financial, human resource and organizational infrastructure that makes it possible to quickly deploy volunteers for peace and development work in every corner of the world - and advocacy on the other to persuade decision-makers to adopt policies and take actions that promote people’s participation in local and international development through volunteerism.

Knowledge and innovation

Improvements in knowledge-based expertise and innovative technologies further advance UNV’s comparative advantage in the development arena, as the only UN entity with a broad and embedded network of volunteer experts on call.

UNV collects and translates the knowledge and innovation into evidence for policy and resource solutions that are built on successful examples of where volunteerism has made a difference.

As part of this work, UNV produces the State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) publications which promotes a better understanding of volunteerism and demonstrate the universality, scope and reach of volunteerism along with new trends in the twenty-first century. The reports examine important contributions in diverse fields such as sustainable livelihoods, social inclusion, social cohesion and disaster risk reduction. By suggesting how volunteerism can be taken forward, the SWVR publications also provide an alternative vision of a better society.

The first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme was launched at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States, on 5 December 2011 and about 80 countries around the world.

In 2015, UNV produced its second-ever SWVR and delivered a unique focus on Transforming Governance, which is the first global review of the role of volunteerism in improving the way citizens are governed and engaged. The report provides evidence from around the world on how formal and informal volunteers engage with governance actors to strengthen participation, accountability and responsiveness in peace and development efforts. Through the SWVR, UNV promoted a global conversation about the role of volunteerism in governance as a critical factor for successful implementation of the SDGs. The report contributed to the positioning of UNV as a leader on volunteerism for peace and development and provided UNV and its field units a tool for advocacy and partnerships.


Advocacy yields the best results when undertaken on a long-term collective basis and in partnership. UNV will therefore partner with stakeholders through the Plan of Action for the next decade and beyond (2016-2030), to facilitate a more systematic collective approach to influencing change.

This will help bring the voices, knowledge and expertise of Member States, UN entities, Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs), civil society, volunteers themselves and other development practitioners to the attention of policy-makers at national and international levels to suggest solutions for lasting impact.

UNV’s Advocacy Strategy aims at enhancing corporate oversight, support and capacity building connected to these efforts at national and global levels, while raising the visibility of related results.

Partners and partnerships

UNV’s advocacy-related partnerships enhance the relationship with partners with whom UNV shares a common vision through different forms of collaborative engagements at local, national, regional and global levels. These are defined in UNV’s Partnerships Strategy, and include:

  • connecting volunteer knowledge to volunteer action in order to integrate volunteering into peace and development;
  • convening alliances and fora to increase volunteering awareness and actions for peace and development.

Civil Society Organizations

UNV works with a large number of civil society organizations (CSOs) to advocate for volunteerism, encourage them to integrate volunteerism into development programming and mobilize volunteers.

UNV, in its partnerships with CSOs raises awareness of volunteerism for peace and development through advocacy, close collaboration and sustained partnerships and networking. It identifies strategic opportunities to promote volunteerism for peace and development and UNV with CSOs through their networks, as well as through UN strategy and policy documents, global publications, research, etc.

UNV assesses civil society partnerships through feedback from regular dialogue with the partners and may have formal partnership agreements with some major civil society partners to achieve strategic ends.

We identify opportunities for UNV participation in key civil society forums (conferences, Executive Committees, task forces), accompany missions of the Executive Coordinator and other Senior UNV personnel and ensure follow up. We also represent UNV in missions, conferences, workshops, taskforces and other key civil society events to give presentations, advocate and promote UNV for the purpose of expanding resource mobilization opportunities, partnerships and alliances.