Volunteering in Emergencies: Protect. Promote. Recognize.
To design and support policies that promote volunteering, governments need to measure and disseminate the economic value they bring to communities. Tools now exist to calculate this information. In March 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) issued the Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work. When the IFRC used the ILO’s methodology, it found that active volunteers for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement contributed close to 6 billion US dollars worth of services worldwide in 2009 – or close to 90 US cents for every person on earth. The manual’s researchers estimate the total economic value of the world’s volunteer workforce at nearly 1.4 trillion US dollars, or more than 2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). It is more difficult to measure the social value of volunteers, but governments should be aware that people working side by side and delivering services to the vulnerable create a sense of community empowerment and solidarity that money cannot buy.