These are some of the findings from a review conducted by International Labour Organisation (ILO) of national practices on the measurement of volunteer work, presented at the 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in Geneva. The research was undertaken as part of a UNV-ILO partnership on volunteer measurement which was established in 2017.
Tshepiso steps back and admires his handiwork. As part of his contribution to Mandela Day, he has painted the interior walls of a corrugated iron shack that serves as a crèche for young children in an informal settlement in Johannesburg. In the spirit of ubuntu, he regularly ferries his elderly parents, aunts and uncles to hospital or assists them with shopping. Just last weekend he repaired a broken kitchen cabinet door for his neighbour, Mrs Potts.
Volunteering is difficult to define and measure in a way that is comparable across borders or cultures. When volunteering has been measured, the focus has largely been on organization-based volunteering, rather than volunteering performed spontaneously and directly between people. Many stakeholders fail to recognize the importance of measuring volunteering, especially irregular volunteering, mainly due to the cost and the difficulties of getting a representative sample.
The ILO Department of Statistics and the UN Volunteers have joined forces to scale up efforts to improve the global availability, quality and use of statistics on volunteer work. Starting this month, the ILO-UNV partnership will focus on assessing the current status of volunteer work statistics around the world; engage directly with countries to identify good practices and challenges in volunteer work data collection and analysis; and develop practical survey approaches and tools to support countries’ efforts.