Global Review on Volunteering

Volunteers are central to the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and to supporting development initiatives in communities all over the world.  In 2013 the IFRC commenced the largest and most thorough review of our volunteering ever undertaken. This Global Review of Volunteering draws on the voices and perspectives of almost 600 volunteer managers, delegates and volunteers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as external experts in 158 countries, to explore the challenges of promoting and supporting volunteering in the context of significant local and global change:

  • recent economic crises and austerity in the global South and North
  • changes to the communities in which volunteers work and from which volunteers are drawn, shaped particularly by increasing movements of people
  • the emphases on cost-effective service delivery and associated reporting and accountability requirements in aid spending
  • recent and often sustained conflict and violence in the global South

The Review identifies the challenges these changes present, how they overlap, and how they are changing and transforming what is meant by volunteering. It also highlights how they require volunteer managers and facilitators to negotiate increasingly complex and sometime dangerous settings with limited resources and high expectations.

Facts and figures

  • Up to 17 Million volunteers participate with the Red Cross and Red Crescent each year
  • Approximately 9 million of our volunteers are young
  • 52 National Societies have more than 10,000 volunteers, 21 of which have more than 50,000 volunteers
  • The Red Cross and Red Crescent is the largest humanitarian volunteer organisation in the world.
  • Our volunteers are supported by 450,000 staff globally
  • The staff to volunteer ratio in developed countries is 1:9 however in developing countries it is 1:180
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