Host a volunteer

Different categories of UN Volunteers are available, each with its own characteristics. This allows flexible solutions to the needs of UN organizations.
UN Volunteer Mohammad Abbas helping refugees in Cairo (UNV, 2016)

Why host a UN Volunteer?

UN Volunteers are qualified and inspired individuals, committed to the principles and code of conduct of the United Nations. The very nature of volunteering attracts exceptionally talented, well-educated and motivated people – experienced global citizens dedicated to peace and sustainable development worldwide.

Volunteers can help organizations achieve their Sustainable Development Goals in a way that champions South-South cooperation. Over eighty percent of UN Volunteers come from the global South. Thus, UN Volunteers tend to be familiar with local development challenges and societal norms. UN Volunteers promote greater social inclusion of marginalized groups in development processes, and serve as catalysts for civic engagement, promote community level dialogue, and build confidence, trust and social cohesion within communities in peacebuilding contexts.

→ Enroll in our e-learning course Hosting a UN Volunteer.

Who are our UN Volunteers?

UN Volunteers are as diverse as the projects they support. They originate from over 150 countries, range from 18 to over 70 years of age and represent over 100 different professional areas. Volunteers represent a rich variety of languages, cultures and ethnicities. UN Volunteers serve in their home countries and abroad; on short and long-term assignments; directly after attaining their qualifications, mid-career or after retirement; and they contribute their services on-site and online.

What categories of UN Volunteers are available?

Different categories of UN Volunteers are available, each with its own characteristics. This allows flexible solutions to the needs of UN organizations.

International UN Volunteers are typically professionals with specialized knowledge. International UN Volunteers bring five to ten years of experience to their assignments, and have an average age of 38. They come from all walks of life and a wide range of professions: some are lawyers with human rights and child protection backgrounds; others are medical professionals, such as clinical psychologists, doctors and nurses; while others are engineers, procurement officers and environmental specialists.

National UN Volunteers are nationals of the host country (or refugees and stateless persons with legal status in the country), normally recruited locally. Some assignments require national UN volunteers to have professional and technical skills and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience. Others call for volunteers who can bring a strong community presence, local knowledge and networks. These volunteers often live and work in their own communities and have at minimum a high school diploma.

UN Youth Volunteers are between the ages of 18-29 and may be engaged for national and international assignments of up to two years. UN Youth Volunteers have demonstrated their commitment to global peace and sustainable development through academic, extra-curricular and volunteer activities and/or around two years of remunerated work experience.

Through the innovative short-term UN Volunteer category, volunteers can be contracted for assignments of less than three months. This option may be useful for rapid or time-limited deployment, such as shoring up emergency responses, census activities and for projects that require quick scaling-up or adaptation to changing circumstances.

Online Volunteering is a rapidly growing service of UNV. Volunteering online allows volunteers to develop their skills and take on new roles that their professional life may not necessarily provide. Organizations collaborate with people of different backgrounds from all over the world, and become part of a global online community of peers who all share the goal of advancing human development. UN Online Volunteers conduct assignments via the Internet to bolster the activities of United Nations entities, governments and civil society organizations.

What support does UNV give to host organizations? UNV offers valuable services and concrete support to host organizations, not the least of which is taking on the administrative tasks of recruitment and mobilization of volunteers. This includes:

  • helping identify appropriate volunteer assignments;
  • managing the selection process and choosing candidates of the highest caliber that meet the host’s requirements;
  • conducting the initial briefing of volunteers and preparing them for travel to their duty stations;
  • concluding the contractual arrangements with the volunteers;
  • ensuring medical and other clearances are in place;
  • training and monitoring UN Youth Volunteers; and
  • providing post-assignment career advice.

The UNV global talent pool contains an active roster of more than 25,000 vetted, well-qualified potential volunteers. A legal and administrative framework is established for engaging volunteers that includes conditions of service, guidance notes and the UNV code of conduct.

Who pays for the UN Volunteer assignment?

The cost of a UN Volunteer assignment is funded by the entity hosting an on-site UN Volunteer. The cost varies depending on the volunteer modality selected.

UNV also has a limited number of UN Volunteer assignments that are fully funded by donors and allocated in close consultation with the Member State. UNV is the main interlocutor for UN entity partners hosting a UN Volunteer sponsored by a UNV funding partner. The main entry point for UN entities to discuss the possibility to host a sponsored UN Volunteer is the UNV Field Unit, or, for countries without a UNV presence, the respective UNV Regional Office.

How long does the process take?

The time between expressing interest in engaging UN Volunteers and their arrival at the designated duty station varies and depends on the urgency of the request, the availability of talents required, the chosen category and the turnaround time on required inputs on the part of the requesting agency. The recruitment of a national or international UN Volunteer normally ranges from 4-12 weeks from approval of the Description of Assignment until arrival at the duty station.

What are the steps to host a UN Volunteer?

To host an on-site UN Volunteer, the host organization should contact a UNV representative, ideally at the UNV Field Unit or Regional Office representing the country where the UN Volunteer is expected to serve. The agency must secure funding for the volunteer and participate in interviewing shortlisted candidates. Here are the steps to host a UN Volunteer

How do you request a UN Youth Volunteer?

You can contact the UNV Field Unit in your country for national UN Youth Volunteers or your focal point at UNV headquarters for international UN Youth Volunteers.

Volunteer management - Downloads

Templates of Description of Assignment (DOA) for national UN Volunteers, international UN Volunteers and international and national UN Youth Volunteers are available below:

> Last update: 18 June 2018