International Volunteer Day, commonly known as IVD, is celebrated on 5 December every year. It started as an international observance mandated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985. It is a day where volunteers are acknowledged and the spirit of volunteerism is promoted at the local, national and international levels.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme joins IVD celebrations with UN Volunteers and all volunteers around the world – amplifying the importance of people-led solutions to our common challenges.
Over the years, IVD has evolved and become a bigger event than before. Volunteers increasingly find novel ways to revel the occasion.
By combining United Nations support with a grassroots mandate, the day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia, and the private sector – to further weave together values of compassion and solidarity.
The History of IVD
1985: The United Nations General Assembly invited Governments to observe the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on 5 December annually (resolution 40/212 of 17 December 1985) and urged them to raise awareness of volunteer service so more people in all walks of life offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad.
1997: The General Assembly, in its resolution 52/17 of 20 November 1997, proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers (IYV) to further recognize volunteers, facilitate their work, create a communication network and promote the benefits of voluntary service.
2001: The General Assembly adopted a set of recommendations on ways in which Governments and the United Nations system could support volunteering and asked that they be given wide dissemination (resolution 56/38 of 5 December 2001).
2002: The General Assembly, in its resolution 57/106 of 22 November 2002, called upon the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to ensure that the potential of International Volunteer Day is fully realized.
2008: The General Assembly decided on 18 December 2008 that on or around 5 December 2011, two plenary meetings of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly should be devoted to the follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers and the commemoration of its tenth anniversary (resolution 63/153).
UNV coordinates a campaign to promote IVD every year, building on the impact volunteers have in communities, nationally and globally for peace and development.
- IVD 2023 recognized the power of collective action: if everyone volunteered, the world would be a better place. If everyone did.
- IVD 2022 underpinned the need to act together and act now as one and in solidarity with each other in Together, Act Now
- IVD 2021 celebrated the power of volunteerism to help create a better future for the generations of tomorrow in Volunteer now for our common future
- IVD 2020 thanked volunteers for their actions and showcased the impact of volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis in Together we can through volunteering
- IVD 2019 highlighted volunteers’ contribution to inclusion and reducing inequality within and among countries in Volunteer for an inclusive future
- IVD 2018 celebrated volunteer efforts that strengthen local ownership and the resilience of the community in the face of natural disasters, economic stresses, and political shocks in Volunteers build Resilient Communities
- IVD 2017 recognized the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis in Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere
- IVD 2016 presented a round of global applause to celebrate volunteers everywhere in Global Applause - give volunteers a hand
- IVD 2015 started a dialogue about how volunteerism is vital to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda in Your world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!
- IVD 2014 highlighted the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grassroots in decision-making processes in Make change happen, volunteer!
- IVD 2013 paid special tribute to the contribution of youth volunteers to global peace and sustainable human development in Young. Global. Active.
- IVD 2012 2012 raised awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organizations in Celebrate volunteering
- IVD 2011 was a call for action to all stakeholders to join the global effort to mark the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers in International Year of Volunteers 10th Anniversary
IVD for partnerships
Through the years, IVD has been used strategically – many countries have focused on volunteer contributions to achieving sustainable development and its set of time-bound targets to combat poverty, hunger, disease, health, environmental degradation, and gender equality.
The organization of IVD events is generally the result of a partnership between the UN system, governments, volunteer-involving organizations, and committed individuals that include – media, academia, foundations, the private sector, and recreational organizations, among others.
Read more on International Volunteer Day.