The Special Voluntary Fund

The Special Voluntary Fund

The Special Voluntary Fund (SVF) is an open trust fund, through which the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme flexibly and strategically allocates un-earmarked resources to support its mandate. Since its establishment in 1970, partners have made financial contributions to the SVF to support UNV as a system-wide service for the United Nations. 

The SVF supports UNV in placing UN Volunteers in peace and development initiatives globally. Through the SVF, UNV responds to UN-wide capacity demand with speed and agility, including in response to crises and emergencies, as well as the pursuit of expanding the global agenda on volunteerism. Find out more in the Special Voluntary Fund report 2022 and in the segments below on partners contributing to the SVF and utilization of the funds.

Why contribute to the Special Voluntary Fund?

The SVF enables UNV to implement the full scale of its ambitious Strategic Framework 2022-25. Development partners and organizations that partner up with UNV send a clear and positive signal of the importance of UNV and the placement of UN Volunteers throughout the UN system to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

What is the impact of the Special Voluntary Fund?

1. Crisis and emergency response 

The SVF supports UNV in responding to emergencies and crises worldwide. Recently, the fund mobilized UN Volunteers for response efforts to the war in Ukraine, crisis and emergency in Gaza, the floods in Pakistan, and the earthquake in Haiti. Volunteers provide community-level and high-impact support, including coordination, data and information management, and post-disaster needs assessments.

2. Diversity and inclusion

The SVF plays a key role in UNV’s efforts to 'walk the talk' on inclusion and diversity, as well as to contribute to a UN that is fully representative in terms of personnel of the world it serves. This includes amplifying gender parity and increasing the number of persons with disabilities among UN Volunteer assignments globally. It also includes engaging UN Volunteers from un- and underrepresented Member States, for instance from Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and the North Pacific.

3. Data and digital solutions

Some 114 countries have laws, schemes and policies on volunteering; 98 countries have measured volunteering at least once since 2007; and 112 countries have reported on the positive contribution of volunteering in their Voluntary National Reviews. All these numbers, part of the SVF-funded UNV Knowledge Portal, show growing recognition of volunteerism around the globe.

UNV’s Digital Strategy aims to utilize its digital knowledge, platforms, and tools to continue to move one step ahead and put a stronger focus on business value for partners, UN Volunteers, candidates, and staff. On this basis, UNV commits resources from the SVF to review and update business processes for efficiency and cost-recovery improvements.

The UNV Online Volunteering service, funded through the SVF, is a powerful way for volunteers to make a difference in the world through e-based working arrangements. Online volunteers contribute to providing critical services such as communications support (graphic design, translation, campaign creation), situation analysis and data, and education and training.

4. Research and advocacy 

The SVF enables UNV to broker research and knowledge on volunteerism and to support the integration of data and evidence on volunteerism in development policy and planning. This includes research on the impact of volunteerism on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as activities that elevate volunteerism visibility through special recognition initiatives – International Volunteer Day (5 December) and award ceremonies at country level.

The SVF also enables UNV to develop the State of the World’s Volunteerism Reports, a UN flagship publication that informs and advocates for the role and contribution of volunteerism for peace and development globally with varying themes per edition.

Finally, UNV with SVF support works closely with United Nations Country Teams across the globe on integrating volunteerism into country-level programming plans.