Mapping Volunteer Work Around the World
2 February 2009 at 4:09 pm
The world’s labour statisticians have for the first time adopted guidelines for measuring the work of volunteers using labour force and other household surveys.
At the recent International Conference of Labor Statisticians in Geneva, Switzerland, 260 statisticians representing a cross-section of the world’s official statistical agencies supported proposals to proceed with a Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work.
The manual has been developed with the assistance of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Civil Society Studies. It will suggest an international definition of volunteer work and offer guidelines for countries to use in measuring such work.
Sylvester Young, director of the Bureau of Statistics of the International Labour Office says the work of volunteers is one aspect of labour that has not been covered adequately in statistical systems up to now.
Lester Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Civil Society Studies says volunteers comprise nearly half of the workforce of the world’s Not for Profit organisations, yet it has remained largely invisible in official economic statistics.
He says now we can highlight and measure this important renewable resource for social and environmental problem-solving and thus lay the groundwork for policies to promote it.
The support of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians paves the way for final testing, drafting, and publication of the proposed manual in 2009 and ultimately for its use by countries around the world.
Data generated by the Johns Hopkins Centre for Civil Society Studies in 37 countries reveal that at least 12 percent of the adult population in these countries volunteers, representing the equivalent of 20.8 million, full-time equivalent workers, and making a $US400 billion contribution to the economy.
Conference participants pointed to the important contribution volunteers made to disaster relief and also emphasized the role of volunteers in rural education. Some governments indicated they had already begun to measure volunteer work through organisational surveys.
Information about the JHU-ILO Volunteer Measurement Project can be found at www.jhu.edu/ccss/volunteering.