Volunteering is a social development concept and an active expression of civic participation, rendering services by choice or free will to organizations, individuals and groups. Volunteering helps to build relationships and foster social inclusion and solidarity.
According to Statista, the efforts of volunteers worldwide are equal to 109 million full-time workers. In other words, volunteers play a crucial role in enabling nonprofits to deliver valuable programs, meet their target audience, and achieve their goals. The hearts, sacrifice, and patience exercised by volunteers are commendable and as such, the U.N. General Assembly came up with International Volunteer Day in 1985, which is still in celebration.
Every December 5, The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, referred to as International Volunteer Day, is observed to commend volunteers worldwide for their outstanding acts of service in transforming societies, economies, environment and promoting the organization’s reach. On this day, we celebrate over one billion people who volunteer worldwide. This celebration’s goal is to commend volunteers and encourage others to volunteer, changing people’s mindsets and attitudes toward volunteering. The 2020 pandemic changed the rate of volunteerism. Philanthropy News Digest records a downward trend since the advent of Covid 19 to post Covid: from over 60 percent participation between 2013 – 2019 to 56% in 2020 and 58% in 2021. As a result of this, volunteerism is encouraged to help nonprofit organizations carry out their goals of making a difference.
The International Volunteer Day 2022 celebration themed “Solidarity through volunteering” is also marked to encourage governments to support volunteers’ efforts and recognize their contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national, and international levels. It is an opportunity for volunteers in organizations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism.
VOLUNTEERING FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION AND SOLIDARITY
Reports show that 57% of volunteer impact stems from women, and as such, volunteerism has contributed to the social inclusion of women. Volunteering has opened up access to opportunities and resources that help to improve volunteers’ quality of life, primarily physical and mental well-being.
Young people are the force of social change and progress, they are seen as critical stakeholders in change-making. While volunteering can be a powerful mechanism for giving young people a voice in decision-making, it also enhances social inclusion by strengthening the bond between their peers and the communities. This bond provides a sense of belonging and gives respect to their society. Young people are critical stakeholders in addressing societal issues as they can better understand and manage the problems.
Volunteering as a social inclusion strategy provides employment opportunities as it complements formal education by teaching young people skills that enhance their employability. In the same vein, volunteering promotes solidarity and fosters relationship building.
Volunteering provides opportunities to connect with others either online or in person. This act generates new networking opportunities for social interaction and likewise confidence in young people’s contribution to their communities, thereby fostering a greater sense of belonging and self-worth.
Volunteering promotes togetherness as young people from diverse social backgrounds can connect in one space to solve societal problems. Without a doubt, volunteerism is a vehicle for social inclusion and togetherness.
Facts to know about volunteering:
- It carves a niche for you: Volunteerism helps you know what area best interests you or positions you to a specialization where you can effectively thrive.
- It promotes self-discovery: Just like Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Volunteering is a way to achieve self-discovery. In volunteering, you are aware of what you can do, why you do what you do and how you are affected or impacted by what you do.
- Helps you make an impact: Volunteering is a way of service to people, bodies, or organizations. In raising a helping hand towards others, you are helping to make an impact. Since volunteering is voluntary and based on one’s choice, it enables you to support what you believe in and express that belief.
- Reduces mortality rates: Volunteering helps to reduce mortality rates amongst the elderly and people in general. Organisations, groups, and individuals are better healthy when assisted especially in times of need and when they help others thereby contributing to a longer lifespan and a more fulfilled life.
- Opens you to employment: By simply volunteering with an organization or body, and showing diligence and love for the job, you are one step or step closer to becoming a part of that organization.
Volunteering is a way of creating a better future with hands joined together towards achieving the same goal and creating lasting solutions to global problems. The world will be a better place when everyone is involved. Join hands with other organizations all over the world and be the change you want to see.