A two-day conference with focus on sharing innovative approaches to strengthening volunteer infrastructure and promoting volunteerism will have the following:
Volunteering is a powerful means of engaging people in implementation of the development schemes and programmes. India has strong tradition of volunteering. The origin and development of volunteerism in the country has been shaped by its indigenous traditions and value systems rooted in the religion and cultural interactions throughout its history. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports runs two of the largest youth volunteer schemes namely National Service Scheme (NSS) established in 1969 and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) established in 1972 to promote volunteerism amongst youth in the country. While NYKS currently has 3.75 million youth enrolled through 167000 youth clubs across the country, NSS has 3.66 million volunteers enrolled through 391 universities, 16.278 colleges/technical institutions and 12.483 senior secondary schools. Further, the Bharat Scouts and Guides have of 5.6 million students enrolled as volunteers and National Cadet Corps (NCC) has over 1.3 million cadets. Swachhagrahis-the community volunteers under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), Bharat Nirman Volunteers under the Ministry of Rural Development, School Volunteers under Vidyanjali, Aapda Mitra, Nyaya Mitra, Mahila Police Volunteers (MPVs), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) Volunteers among others make enormous contributions in the socio-economic development of the country.
Volunteers facilitate and support people’s engagement in planning, implementing and monitoring the developmental schemes of the government thereby fostering community ownership and leveraging innovative solutions from the ground up. Volunteerism, therefore, has much to contribute by way of harnessing the power and participation of individuals and communities to empower those who are furthest behind and address some of the exclusion that exists due to poverty, gender, disability and other causes of inequality. One potential way of leveraging the contribution of volunteers can be their integration into national development processes.
This session aims to provide a platform for exchange of ideas and experiences on how volunteers contribute to socio-economic development of communities. The session is designed to gather perspectives on need for integrating volunteerism in national development processes.
To focus on specific topics divided into key five sessions
While volunteers contribute significantly to the economic development of the country, their economic contributions are not captured in the national accounting system as it does not involve significant monetary transactions. This exclusion limits the visibility and credence of volunteer work in the country. The objective of the measurement of volunteer work is to generate systematic and comparable data on the economic contributions of volunteers. This is necessary to inform investments to be made on volunteering programmes and increase the accountability of the Volunteer Involving Organizations through proper tracking of resources spent on such initiatives. It was noted that there are few challenges in measuring the economic value of volunteers which include defining the range of diverse forms of volunteerism and capturing the size, scope & scale of different kinds of volunteerism through quantitative measures, these could be overcome as there are frameworks and manuals to guide the process. The measurement could be done through regular supplements to labour bureau surveys or other household surveys.
Volunteering is one of the most visible expressions of social cohesion. It has tremendous potential to transform society by promoting solidarity, inclusion and building social capital. It is now well recognized that volunteering is an important resource for tackling many of the social, economic, and environmental problems. Millions of Indians take part in voluntary activities and in addition to generating huge economic value, volunteering makes enormous social contributions. However, there is a general lack of solid and reliable information on the scope, scale, distribution, and impact of volunteering. Despite its enormous contribution, volunteering remains marginalized in policy research and public debates. Globally, frameworks and approaches have been developed to measure the economic impact of volunteering. However, monetizing volunteering alone is not enough. Unless, the social value of volunteering activities is captured in the form of societal gains, or benefits for the society is captured. Measuring the social impact of volunteering is critical to make a case for volunteering which generates positive outcomes for communities. Intrinsic value and social impact of volunteering therefore must be measured.
A very high number of youth volunteers participate in volunteering activities in the country and contribute to nation building. While NSS volunteers get certificates on successful completion of 2 years of volunteering, it does not necessarily become part of university assessment system. Some universities do consider NSS certificate and give credit points for admission for higher studies but as such this is not a norm or practice. In fact, as compared to many other countries like Japan, China, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia among others, India does not have robust accreditation practices to promote volunteering in the country. Hence there is a need to develop an accreditation system that could encourage students and others to become active volunteers and contribute significantly to the national development. Students should earn “credit hours” for voluntary work, an incentive that builds volunteering into the university assessment system and promotes community work as an integral part of higher education. “Credit hours” or “time credits” for volunteering should also be recognized for giving preference in employment as volunteers learn many life-skills during their volunteering assignment which make them better employees.
Volunteering in India is often one-off activity, ad-hoc and fragmented thus full potentials of volunteers are not achieved. The volunteers also do not get much opportunities to learn in the course of volunteering assignments. Volunteering should be made a two ways process wherein volunteers contribute for larger social good and in return they go through a learning experience and develop certain skills which make them employable. Volunteer Involving Organizations should provide their enrolled volunteers the opportunity to go through a volunteering journey over 1-2 years wherein they identify one or multiple challenges being faced by the community and involve themselves in the problem-solving exercise. At the beginning of the volunteering journey volunteers should take up specific assignments as per their interest on issues such as health, education, nutrition, child protection, child marriage, domestic violence, gender discrimination, environment, disaster preparedness etc. They should develop work plan to complete the assignment with various milestones. The process should allow them to think, plan, and adapt flexibly. In the process they should be able to acquire critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, communication skills, organizing skills and leadership qualities among others. These skills and qualities will enhance employability of volunteers.
Private sector businesses have become a key development partner in solving social and economic problems throughout the globe. Business Community worldwide have harnessed volunteering to add value to their employees as well as their businesses bringing transformative changes in the lives of people and communities. Volunteering is on the rise and businesses play an integral role in contributing to this trend. Today, corporate volunteering has become one of the fastest-growing areas of voluntary activity. Companies are moving beyond the norm of cash and kind contributions to innovative solutions to engage their employees to give back and serve in their communities. Corporate Volunteering has emerged as a win: win: win proposition where in all the three key stakeholders namely, employees, employer and the community are mutually benefitted. Of late, more and more companies are turning to volunteer employee programs as a key strategy to help realize their business goals while positively engaging their employees to address concerns ranging from hunger and poverty to education to financial stability. Promoting employee engagement is thus part of the ongoing evolution taking place in the private sector to move beyond a sole focus on the bottom line to becoming socially responsible corporate citizens.
Impact2030 launched in 2015 at the UN summit in response to UN Resolution A/RES/66/67, which called on the United Nations to further engage with the private sector “through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities.” Seeks to create a mechanism to bring together the private sector, public sector and civil society with the objective to advance the practice and impact of corporate volunteering and strategically mobilise corporate volunteers to contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The forum will provide a platform to the participant to share stories of successes and failures, present case studies on corporate volunteering that have transformative impacts with outcomes/ impacts, demonstrate use of technology in employee volunteering and showcase use of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in building volunteering programmes and methods adopted to safeguard employees as well as beneficiaries.