This International Volunteer Day 2018, we celebrate the work of volunteers everywhere, with a focus on local volunteers working at the community level. Through its State of the World's Volunteerism Report (SWVR) 2018, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme provides concrete evidence, and recognizes the many ways in which people are dedicating their time to make communities more resilient against natural disasters, economic stresses and political shocks.
Although most voluntary action happens at the local level, people may volunteer in neighbouring communities, at national level, internationally and online. The rapid rise of smart, mobile, crowdsourced and other new technologies continues to bring sweeping changes to how volunteers and voluntary organizations engage. Today, for many volunteers, both formal and informal, the use of technology in some aspect of their volunteering is no longer a convenience but an everyday necessity. It has given organizations powerful new tools to mobilize, organize, incentivize and evaluate volunteers while also offering volunteers new opportunities for action and feedback.
Technology-enabled forms of volunteering such as online volunteering and micro-volunteering that are independent from specific times and locations have opened up possibilities for innovative collaborations with local community volunteers. With access to digital technologies, online volunteers anywhere in the world can support community efforts, an increasingly important way of connecting local volunteers across the globe as they respond to stresses, disasters and crises.
Since its creation in the year 2000, UNV’s Online Volunteering service has provided a venue for organizations and volunteers to team up to tackle development challenges -via the Internet.
The platform has been regularly upgraded not only in terms of technology but also from its quality control mechanisms and streamlined processes that build upon 18 years of experience brokering online collaborations. In 2016, thanks to financial support from the Government of Germany, the platform was last revamped enabling the service to be scaled up to reach more volunteers and organizations.
The number of UN Online Volunteers has indeed increased from 11,000 in 2015 to almost 18,000 in 2017, with the number of assignments increasing to 23,000. Skilled online volunteers advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by completing short-term tasks from anywhere in the world, using the technology at their fingertips -smartphones, tablets or computers.