International Year of the Volunteer


  ~ 2001 Topics ~

IYV 2001-Canada and Europe

The Council of Europe, a 41-member parliament, adopted a recommendation to urge member governments to promote "pro" volunteer policies and remove legal obstacles that prohibit people from volunteering. It also called on European countries to declare a European Day of Volunteering, to raise awareness about volunteerism.

Volunteer Canada hosts the 2001 Canadian Forum on Volunteerism in Vancouver, BC, August 16-18. The forum will bring together hundreds of volunteers to debate a series of declarations on volunteerism in Canada. The hope is that the declarations will generate insights and energy around volunteerism. For more information check out

New York City Committee Launches International Year of Volunteers Website


New York City is pulling out all stops in honor of the United Nation's International Year of Volunteers.

"New York is the first city in the world to actively and continuously mobilize for IYV and a comprehensive 12-month program of activities is planned to promote volunteerism in our city," said Rustie Brooke, founder of NYC/IYV. "We invite everyone to visit for information on the International Year of Volunteers and volunteerism in New York City.

NYC/IYV is a coalition of hundreds of not-for-profit, business and government organizations. IYV 2001 provides an opportunity for New York City to join with United Nations Volunteers and the international community in encouraging volunteer activities and to recognize the outstanding contributions of millions of New York City volunteers.

NYC/IYV sponsors include Merrill Lynch and American Express. Other supporters are Con Edison, New York Life and Nike and media partners are the New York Times and NBC 4.

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World Wide IYV 2001 Events

IYV2001 and the Corporate Volunteer Program


By Peri Lynn Turnbull land Peter James MacCracken, APR

San Diego Daily Transcript

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Involving employees in a corporate community investment program pays handsome dividends. Some of the benefits as discussed in an earlier column are that a CI program attracts talent, increases loyalty, reduces turnover, builds skills, and improves productivity.

During 2001, the United Nations-designated International Year of the Volunteer, companies have a golden opportunity to dovetail corporate and employee involvement in the community. Doing so can expand community investment programs to create greater impact while leveraging the human resources value of good deeds in a tough labor market.

What is the International Year of the Volunteer? In 1 985, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed an annual International Volunteer Day to mark the achievements of volunteers around he world. On that day last year, the International Year of the Volunteer (IYV) was launched by Secretary General Kofi Annan. He said, in part, "Societies need to recognize and promote volunteerism as a valuable activity."

The goal is to create a growing, organized force to help tackle the world's vexing social issues. The means to achieving that goal include recognizing, facilitating and promoting volunteerism, as well as building new partnerships to productively engage volunteers.

In the U.S., the effort is coordinate through the Points of Light Foundation.

Volunteering is an American tradition. More than half (55.5 percent) of all Americans volunteer annually, according to the 1999 Independent Sector National Survey on Volunteering. Based on 1998 statistics: 109 million U.S. adults volunteered; averaging 3.5 hours a week, they committed 19.9 billion hours in a year; and, at an average wage of $14.83, the value of volunteer time was $255.9 billion. That is a force to be reckoned with.

Getting in on the act

Business can leverage volunteer efforts in a number of ways that truly create a win-win-win, benefiting the business, its employees (and other stakeholders and the community.

Corporations can sponsor employee efforts by organizing an activity, such as building a Habitat for Humanity home or painting a shelter. The company might donate materials - paint, brushes, tools and supplies - or turn to its vendors to donate materials. Activities like this could be pioneered in the International Year of the Volunteer and, if deemed successful, can be turned into an annual event.

Companies may provide paid time off for employees to engage in volunteer activities, as do 33 percent of all companies surveyed by Boston College in 1999. This might be one day for employees to do what they choose, or a day to engage in company-directed volunteerism (i.e., in areas that are aligned with the company's business interests). Sound intimidating? Then try a pilot program just for the International Year of the Volunteer and, if it meets corporate objectives institutionalize it.

Companies also can "loan" executives or managers to not-for-profit organizations for a set period of time. Many businesses find this builds skills that simply keeping employees on an internal track does not. The loaned executive approach is popular with the United Way, but can help any not-for-profit and serve as professional development for any business.

An alternative approach is to match employee efforts in some way. This creates greater perceived impact for employees, while not placing the full burden on the business. For example, a company could provide a grant to community-based organizations where its employees volunteer a certain amount of time. For example, donate $250 for every 50 hours of employees' volunteer time. Or the company could provide an hour of paid time off for volunteering for every certain number of hours, from one for one to one for 10. If an employee volunteers 10 hours with the Boys and Girls Clubs, for example, the company pays for the 11th hour of time.

A valuable initiative would be to educate employees about volunteerism informing them of what it is, how to approach it, how to have impact and where the needs are. People don't know how to find or choose from volunteer opportunities, except to respond when asked. A proactive approach could help get those efforts more in line with the business' objectives.

Some companies have intranets that serve as clearinghouses for volunteer opportunities. Employees can find out where to be active and submit suggestions for company involvement. This could extend to matching employees with board or committee positions with organizations that are important to the business.

A very active approach would consist of conducting a volunteer fair on-site where not-for-profits could set up information booths to inform and recruit for volunteers.

Finally, business can get in on the act by emulating the International Year of the Volunteer initiative: recognize and reward the efforts of employees who volunteer. Recognition may be as simple as a certificate of appreciation or as complex as special events or a volunteer of the year program. Regardless, such an effort is almost certain to make employees feel better about the company and their role, and positively reinforce volunteerism.

The Future of Employee Volunteerism

Employee volunteerism is one of the fastest-growing community investment activities in North America and the future is bright. Putting the workforce "out there" makes a difference on local social issues and spreads companies' names around. It also helps attract, develop and retain employees.

Eventually, offering and encouraging volunteer opportunities will become an employee benefit that individuals seek out and weigh when assessing prospective employers. Even further, companies may someday link volunteer activity with performance appraisal, seeing it as one more way an employee contributes to the success of the business. Perhaps we are entering the Century of the Volunteer.

For more information on the International Year of the Volunteer, see and
Peri Lynn Turnbull and Peter James MacCracken, APR are independent consultants. They assist companies with community investment, reputation management and communications campaigns. They can be reached at or

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IYV2001-International Activities

Here are some activities around the world to celebrate IYV2001

The Netherlands-

For more information: Germien Cox; or


Contact: Viola Krebs, or



IYV2001-US Activities

The International Year of Volunteers 2001 United States Committee is off to a good start. There is a Web site,, where you can register your activities for the coming year.

A primary goal of the US Committee, co-lead by the Points of Light Foundation and the Association of Junior Leagues International, is to engage organizations and individuals. The Web site allows anyone to register as a partner, search a database for the activities of other partners, or register activities and events. You can receive a newsletter, order recognition and celebration products, and receive booklets to guide in planning local events. There are also links to other sites related to IYV2001.


For information contact'volunteer-hi.



For more information contact Chuck Hennigan,

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It's Not to Late for IYV2001

So you just heard about the International Year of the Volunteer 2001. It is the United Nations yearlong celebration of service and volunteers. If you want to know more visit the UN project visit their Web site, It isn't too late to celebrate this event. Susan Ellis, of Energize, Inc. highlights a means to celebrate in your organization. Here are the steps:

Take this time to learn more about the accomplishments of your organization. Form a committee of those who enjoy reminiscing about the past. Rescue old documents that are stuffed in boxes. Make scrapbooks and posters. Capture oral history on tape for future generations.

Organize an event to share all that you learn about the history. Try to interest the news media. Highlight goals set and accomplishments met. Be sure that current volunteers are made to feel like they are part of "history," too.

Bring together volunteers and some outsiders to ask where you are going to be in the next 20 or 30 years. Invite a wide range of people-anyone with a stake in your mission. Be sure to ask people who might not agree with one another, but bring fresh ideas. This is a time to break the old ways and think about new ways.

Find out what other organizations in your community are doing. Put together a joint celebration of your history and plans for the future. A library, city hall, or community center is the place to show off what you have done.

Ellis's site is sponsoring a place to log your work. Visit and find out how to post your work. The US IYV2001 site also has a place to log your activities. The information is also being used to revise the Ellis and Campbell book, By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers.

You can also visit the US IYV2001 site for ideas on celebrations and to buy t-shirts, pins, and mugs.

It is not too late. Begin by forming an IVY2001 committee. Get the hardest workers and let the party begin!

Canada has a Canada IYV2001 Website to help plan and design your IYV celebration activities. Sponsored by Volunteer Canada, you can visit The Possibilities Catalog online or contact them at 800-670-0401.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.

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