Universal Declaration on Volunteering

Universal Declaration on VolunteeringVolunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society. It brings to life the noblest aspirations of human kind -; the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people. In this era of globalisation and continuous change, the world is becoming smaller, more interdependent, and more complex.

Volunteering - either through individual or group action - is a way in which: Human values of community, caring, and serving can be sustained and strengthened; Individuals can exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of communities, while learning and growing throughout their lives, realising their full human potential; and Connections can be made across differences that push us apart so that we can live together in healthy, sustainable communities, working together to provide innovative solutions to our shared challenges and to shape our collective destinies. At the dawn of the new millennium, volunteering is an essential element of all societies. It turns into practical, effective action the declaration of the United Nations that "We, the Peoples" have the power to change the world.

This Declaration supports the right of every woman, man and child to associate freely and to volunteer regardless of their cultural and ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, and physical, social or economic condition. All people in the world should have the right to freely offer their time, talent, and energy to others and to their communities through individual and collective action, without expectation of financial reward. We seek the development of volunteering that: elicits the involvement of the entire community in identifying and addressing its problems; provides a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves; enables others to participate as volunteers; complements but does not substitute for responsible action by other sectors and the efforts of paid workers; enables people to acquire new knowledge and skills and to fully develop their personal potential, self-reliance and creativity; promotes family, community, national and global solidarity.

We believe that volunteers and the organisations and communities that they serve have a shared responsibility to: create environments in which volunteers have meaningful work that helps to achieve agreed upon results; define the criteria for volunteer participation, including the conditions under which the organisation and the volunteer may end their commitment, and develop policies to guide volunteer activity; provide appropriate protections against risks for volunteers and those they serve; provide volunteers with appropriate training, regular evaluation, and recognition; ensure access for all by removing physical, economic, social, and cultural barriers to their participation.

Taking into account basic human rights as expressed in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the principles of volunteering and the responsibilities of volunteers and the organisations in which they are involved, we call upon:
  • All volunteers to proclaim their belief in volunteer action as a creative and mediating force that: builds healthy, sustainable communities that respect the dignity of all people; 
  • empowers people to exercise their rights as human beings and, thus, to improve their lives; helps solve social, cultural, economic and environmental problems; and builds a more humane and just society through worldwide cooperation 
  • The leaders of: all sectors to join together to create strong, visible, and effective local and national "volunteer centres" as the primary leadership organisations for volunteering; government to ensure the rights of all people to volunteer, to remove any legal barriers to participation, to engage volunteers in its work, and to provide resources to NGOs to promote and support the effective mobilisation and management of volunteers; 
  • business to encourage and facilitate the involvement of its workers in the community as volunteers and to commit human and financial resources to develop the infrastructure needed to support volunteering; the media to tell the stories of volunteers and to provide information that encourages and assists people to volunteer; 
  • education to encourage and assist people of all ages to volunteer, creating opportunities for them to reflect on and learn from their service; 
  • religion to affirm volunteering as an appropriate response to the spiritual call to all people to serve; 
  • NGOs to create organisational environments that are friendly to volunteers and to commit the human and financial resources that are required to effectively engage volunteers. 
The United Nations to: Declare this the "Decade of Volunteers and Civil Society" in recognition of the need to strengthen the institutions of free society; and Recognise the "red V" as the universal symbol for volunteering. IAVE challenges volunteers and leaders of all sectors throughout the world to unite as partners to promote and support effective volunteering, accessible to all, as a symbol of solidarity among all peoples and nations.

IAVE invites the global volunteer community to study, discuss, endorse and bring into being this Universal Declaration on Volunteering.

Adopted by the international board of directors of IAVE - The International Association for Volunteer Effort at its 16th World Volunteer Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, January 2001, the UN International Year of Volunteers. © IAVE 2001

Definition & Principles of Volunteering

Definition of volunteeringDefinition:
Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community, the environment or individuals outside one\'s immediate family. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain.

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Examples of Virtual volunteering projects

Below is a list containing some examples of Virtual Volunteering work. 

* Technical assistance provided by online volunteers to staff or other volunteers at an agency. Such assistance usually involves task or objective-based assignments, or the volunteer providing a particular expertise to the agency. This would include volunteers who work off-site, using a computer and the Internet.

* Conducting online research: finding information to use in an agency\'s upcoming grant proposal or newsletter, gathering information on a particular government program or legislation that could affect an agency\'s clients, gathering web site addresses of similarly-focused organisations, using online phone books and web sites to update contact information for a database, etc.

* Providing professional consulting expertise: answering an agency\'s questions regarding human resources, accounting, management or legal issues, writing a speech, developing a strategic plan for a particular department, setting up a video conferencing event, providing industrial designs, etc.

* Helping with advocacy: posting information to appropriate online communities (newsgroups, lists, etc.), preparing legislative alerts to be sent via e-mail, keeping track of legislation that could affect an agency\'s clients, etc.

* Translating a document into another language.

* Providing multimedia expertise, such as preparing a PowerPoint, Hypercard, QuickTime or other computer-based presentation

* Designing an agency\'s newsletter or brochure, or copy editing an agency\'s publication or proposal

* Proofreading drafts of paper and online publications

* Researching and writing articles for brochures, newsletters, web sites, etc.

* Designing a logo for an agency or program, or filling other illustration needs

* Preparing information for an agency\'s World Wide Web site

* Writing a technology plan, designing a marketing strategy, or directing other types of organisational planning and outreach

* Making sure a Web site is accessible for people with disabilities

* Registering an agency\'s World Wide Web home page and other appropriate pages with online search engines, directories and "What\'s New" sites

* Designing a database system using an agency\'s in-house database software (FileMaker Pro, Access, Lotus Approach, etc.)

* Providing advanced Web site programming (creating automated forms, interactive areas, e-commerce functions, etc.)

* Doing regular searches for news articles relating to an organisation or a particular topic

* Volunteer management assistance: managing other volunteers in the aforementioned activities, providing an online orientation to all volunteers with Internet access (whether or not they are onsite or online volunteers), surveying volunteers via e-mail about their experiences with an agency or program, keeping track of volunteer hours, inputting volunteer opportunities into online databanks, etc.

 

What is virtual volunteering?

Virtual VolunteeringVirtual volunteering means volunteer tasks completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It\'s also known as online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, teletutoring and various other names.

Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas. Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers, because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering on-site. Virtual volunteering allows anyone to contribute time and expertise to not-for-profit organisations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services, from his or her home or office.

Virtual Volunteering encourages and assists in the development and success of volunteer activities that can be completed via the Internet, and help volunteer managers use cyberspace to work with ALL volunteers. The Project builds the capacity of both agencies and volunteers, to make online service possible. Successful virtual volunteering takes much more than a database of online service opportunities -- the Virtual Volunteering Project provides the critical information and background to help both organisations and volunteers engage in effective, meaningful, mission-based online service. Why Virtual Volunteering?

Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers, because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering onsite. Virtual volunteering allows anyone with Internet access to contribute time and expertise to nonprofit organisations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services. Virtual volunteering also allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas. This type of volunteering helps agencies to further cultivate community support and to augment staff resources and existing volunteer program benefits. Not-for-profit and public sector organisations involve volunteers to give the community first-hand experience with the successes and impact of the agency\'s programs, to tap into diverse audiences and ideas, and to extend staff resources.

Virtual volunteering is a way to extend the benefits of involving volunteers, and a way to help organisations meet the increasing challenges of the future, while also allowing them to reap tangible benefits from emerging technologies. Successful virtual volunteering takes much more than a database of online service opportunities - the Virtual Volunteering Project provides the critical information and background to help both organisations and volunteers engage in effective, meaningful, mission-based online service.

Ever Thought of Disability and Volunteering?

Involving people with disabilityA Practical Checklist for organisations involving people with disabilities as volunteers.

  • Actively encourage people with disabilities to volunteer through targeted promotion, and the use of appealing recruitment campaigns.
  • Overcome physical barriers to involving volunteers, eg buildings, transport, information, equipment, to be more accessible to every form of disability.
  • Be creative, and develop volunteering opportunities which can be carried out by people with disabilities.
  • Allow for flexible volunteering opportunities.
  • Train staff and volunteers in equal opportunities and disability awareness, so that myths and stereotyping do not lead to negative attitudes, or assumptions about what people can and cannot do.
  • Meet volunteers\' needs and match them to tasks.
  • Make support available on an ongoing basis to the volunteers.
  • Pay out-of-pocket expenses, and give clear information around volunteering when on welfare benefits, so that fear of losing benefits does not become a barrier to volunteering.
  • Ask staff to remember that the person is a person first - the disability is second.
  • Follow good practice in the management of volunteers in all instances, eg volunteer policy, recruitment and selection, induction, training, support and supervision.
  • Have fully operational equal opportunities policies which encourage people with disabilities to volunteer, and to be involved effectively.
 

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