Monday, 25 November 2013

Global Volunteer Numbers

Well - I was inspired to write up a little something about volunteers the other day, a process which sparked another question. I know New Zealand and Australian volunteer numbers; but had no idea of other nations' norms.

So I set off to find out. I found a great website,, which contains some summary international data and resources on volunteers. They report that, of the 37 countries that they studied, 140m people do some volunteer work each year (and that statistic includes those who have volunteered just once in the past year). However, it adds up to around 12% of the surveyed countries' adult populations; equal to 44% of the not-for-profit workforce or 21m FTE jobs.

Additionally, volunteer hours in those 37 countries add up to 68% of the private philanthopy in those nations. Only a third of giving is in cash.

This site provides no volunteer data by nation though: just the collected information from the project. Every country collects their volunteer information differently. Some have volunteer surveys, some use tax information, some use census data. Some ask if people have donated any hours in the past year, some ask about regular volunteering, some ask about volunteer hours in the past week.

However, linked to this site is the John Hopkins Institute which collected and cross-tabulated volunteer data for the UN. They presented the collected data in a way that allows us to see the total number of volunteers in the participating nations (though not in volunteer hours, which is how we New Zealanders collect our census data). As you can see by the bar graph, of the countries measured, New Zealand has the most volunteers by a third, though our overall not-for-profit sector is smaller than some nations (Belgium, Australia and Israel).

Volunteering in New Zealand is a part of our culture. It will be fascinating to see how the statistics track over time.



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