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International Reports

The first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) brings to light an unacknowledged renewable asset. Volunteerism is more than a tool for development. Its underlying values are key to moving the world towards a more sustainable future. Around the world, people are increasingly recognizing that our unsustainable production and consumption patterns need to change. In order to achieve this, political will alone is not sufficient. People need to participate and engage. 

Volunteerism provides opportunities for many to be active in society and become agents of change.

However volunteerism offers more: it promotes cooperation and contributes to the quality of life, well-being in a wider sense, of individuals and of society as a whole.

Volunteerism is not a panacea. It should not replace the responsibility of the state. Yet it is an essential component of any strategy that recognizes that progress cannot be measured solely in terms of economic return. Such development strategies acknowledge that people are not motivated by self-interest alone but by their deeply held values and beliefs. 

The SWVR focuses on the universal values that motivate people all over the world to engage for the common good. It examines the impact of volunteer action on societies and individuals. Numerous examples in the report illustrate the profound changes that volunteers produce and experience. These examples show why volunteerism, in its many and diverse forms, is crucial to human development. Above all, a truly human society should be motivated by the values of trust, solidarity and mutual respect which inspire every volunteer. 

This report coincides with an intense debate about how societies should be shaped today and in the future. The rapid transformations of cultural and social norms caused by globalization bring benefits to some but exclusion and marginalization to others. Many people feel a loss of control over their lives. Volunteerism is a means by which people can engage in their communities and societies.

Even without the multiple crises that have afflicted the world in recent years, it is obvious that the efforts of governments and international actors need to be reinforced by the people. Meeting and sustaining internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, needs the voluntary engagement and support of the people. 

Yet volunteerism still remains largely absent from the peace and development agenda. The report shows that this must change. The full potential of volunteerism can only be unleashed when it is recognized as a powerful and universal renewable resource and a vital component of the social capital of every nation. We expect this report to contribute to a better appreciation of this potential and to encourage greater strategic thinking and action in order to incorporate volunteerism into mainstream policies and programmes for peace and development. 

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IVAR has published reports in June 2011  

Assessing the Impact of Multi-purpose Community Organisations 

http://www.ivar.org.uk/publications/reports-and-publications/assessing-impact-multi-purpose-community-organisations 

IVAR  has published a report of a two year collaboration between researchers and nine community organisations interested in finding new ways to assess the difference they make. The research proposes three principles for impact assessment:

Impact assessment needs a clear rationale and purpose 
Impact assessment needs to be fit for purpose
Impact assessment needs to be jointly understood and designed by organisations and their funders. 

Community Organisations Controlling Assets: A Better Understanding

http://www.ivar.org.uk/publications/reports-and-publications/community-organisations-controlling-assets-better-understandin 

This report is the culmination of a two year research project commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It examines the variety of organisations engaged in asset ownership and management from small volunteer only groups in rural areas, through medium sized organisations involved in partnerships through to large social enterprises working from a business model. It builds on the first UK-wide survey of the field which informed case study investigation of the different types and provides a three part framework for understanding the field.  

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Pathways through Participation:  What Creates and Sustains Active Citizenship?

http://pathwaysthroughparticipation.org.uk/resources/finalreport/

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and Involve are pleased to publish this important new report about how people participate in society. Pathways through Participation is an ambitious research project that aims to improve our understanding of how and why people participate, how their involvement changes over time, and what pathways, if any, exist between different types of activities.

The project emerged from a common desire across our three organisations to create a fuller picture of how people participate over their lifetimes. It builds on work completed at NCVO on active citizenship, adds to IVR’s research into volunteering by exploring it in relation to other forms of participation, and extends Involve’s research and practice in empowering citizens to take and influence the decisions that affect their lives. National and local governments have grappled for decades with the challenges of how to encourage people to be more active citizens. Their reasons have varied over time, from improving public services to reducing public spending or enhancing democracy. Recent policy developments around localism, the Big Society, outsourcing public services, encouraging charitable giving and the role of the voluntary sector have made questions about participation more topical than ever.

This report provides the practical intelligence that will enable voluntary and community organisations, public service providers and government at all levels to better support and develop participation. It is only through hearing people’s personal stories, and focusing on their individual experience, that the complexities and dynamics of how participation works in practice can be fully understood. We interviewed over 100 people across three localities – their stories of participation provide the powerful body of evidence drawn on in this report.


This research shows that people participate in a myriad of ways, depending on what has meaning and value to them. They participate as individuals and collectively. Their reasons for participating are sometimes altruistic and sometimes it is to achieve something more explicitly for themselves. We have found many stories of how life enhancing participation can be, but also of its negative effects. Participation can be a core part of people’s lives or something they do once in a while. It doesn’t happen in a bubble but connects to different aspects of their lives. And it is shaped by their circumstances and capabilities, as well as the personal, practical and political opportunities and barriers they face.

We hope that policy-makers, practitioners and researchers will find this report useful in developing a richer and fuller understanding of how and why people participate, and what makes them start and continue (and stop) participating. Beyond promoting understanding, we hope that this report will help institutions and organisations find ways in which they can support and encourage opportunities for participation that better meet people’s aspirations and expectations.

Sir Stuart Etherington, NCVO
Simon Burall, Involve
Nick Ockenden, IVR

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WINGS Community Foundation Status Report - 2010

The 2010 Community Foundation Global Status Report is the sixth in a series of reports on the development of community foundations around the world, and the first web-based version of this signature report. It was commissioned and funded by Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS).

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New Study Describes Growth of Community Foundations in Mexico

A recent study of 21 community foundations in Mexico found that these organizations are growing their financial and human capital while strengthening Mexico’s civil society and their growing philanthropic culture. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Inter-American Foundation funded the research, which was jointly conducted by Teamworks and Alternativas y Capacidades based in the U.S and Mexico respectively.

The objective of the research was to establish a current overview of Mexican community foundations, describing their main characteristics and the support system for their development. The study used data the 21 participating community foundations provided from 2005 to 2007.

The study found that community foundations are making progress in institutional development. Also, the foundations are facing challenges as they address their developmental and operational needs.

Recommendations and copies of the full report are available online at www.sfteamworks.com and www.alternativasociales.org




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