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The Thomson Reuters Foundation published the latest findings of a United Nations analysis on volunteerism and governance in The New York Times. Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, a global news and information provider.

U.N. Report: Governments Failing to Harness Volunteer Power

volunteerism and governance

By Reuters | The New York Times | 6/5/15

Many governments are failing to harness the untapped potential of volunteers, ordinary citizens who can shine light on injustice and hold those in power to account, the United Nations said in a report on Friday.

More than one billion people around the world volunteer their time to different causes – from helping during West Africa’s Ebola outbreak to scrutinizing city contracts for corruption in Brazil, the U.N. said in the first global analysis of volunteers’ contribution to better governance.

Volunteering also helps marginalized groups such as women, youth and minorities have their voices heard, the report said.

In September, U.N. member states are expected to adopt new international development goals as the Millennium Development Goals expire. The targets should include volunteering as a way of improving governance locally and globally, said U.N. experts.

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Volunteerism and Governance

The experts at the United Nations conducted the first-ever global State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, which found that governments are failing to harness the power of volunteers. A staggering 1 billion people donate their time to causes around the globe, but it seems volunteerism and governance strategies have not been optimal. In response, they are encouraging governments to empower ordinary citizens to actively shine light on injustices and hold those in power accountable.

Whether you’re a political organization, a food bank or an animal rescue, your volunteers are priceless assets. They’re your cheerleaders, ambassadors, workforce and so much more.

Volunteerism In Action

There are many ways to utilize your most passionate supporters whether they want to volunteer their time and skills or to fundraise on your behalf.  The contribution they make to your organization can be the key to fulfilling your mission and reaching your goals.  In fact, many nonprofits have no paid staff at all and are run by volunteers alone.

Volunteers, dedicated to your cause can work tirelessly on your behalf as in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”  They can kick off a crowdfunding campaign with gusto and be there to carry your fundraiser across the finish line with all the passion and dedication of an Olympic athlete. Minus the actual sweat, of course.

Plan for Volunteer Success

Some of the elements of creating a good Volunteerism plan for your organization include: 

  • Creating a list of the different ways that volunteers can help.
  • Developing job descriptions for each role needed
  • Recruiting your volunteers being careful to screen potential members
  • Producing materials to welcome and train your volunteers about your organization and the role they will be filling
  • Evaluating them and providing feedback.  Also be open to their comments and feedback in return about the work they’re doing, your organization, and any recommendations they would like to offer for improvement.
  • Last, but certainly not least, be sure to recognize and acknowledge their efforts and achievements

Keeping track of your supporter’s interest in volunteer opportunities may seem daunting.  Mobile technology can make for a great and friendly experience (for both you and your volunteers!).   Set up a keyword or include a custom field on a donation page, you can capture donor data that’s ready for mobile validation and messaging within minutes to keep your volunteers informed and engaged with updates and requests for additional support.

Use mobile technology to facilitate volunteerism by making it easy for volunteers to selflessly contribute their skills, knowledge, time or resources to your organization.

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