Wednesday, December 12, 2007

World Volunteer Day: taking Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers seriously

5 December 2007

Since 1999, when the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies adopted its Volunteering Policy, significant progress has been made in the creation and implementation of National Society volunteer management policies. A just-published report indicates that today, about half of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have a national volunteer policy, while 43.5% have a volunteer development plan.

Initial assessments show that those which have adopted a volunteering policy demonstrate better recruitment and retention of volunteers. About half of the National Societies reported an increase in the number of volunteers over the past three years, 20% said the number had remained constant, and another 20% reported a drop. Nearly 60% of National Societies now have a volunteering database.

“It is essential that more resources are put in the recruitment, training, retention and recognition of our volunteers if we are to successfully carry out our humanitarian mission and our global commitments for the coming years,” stresses International Federation President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro. “Volunteers and their unique reach into the communities, are at the heart of effective humanitarian assistance in emergencies and other crises. We must modernize our approach to volunteer management. It is encouraging to see the results Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer management policies are producing.”

More than half of active Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are under 30 years old and many National Societies are testing new approaches to attract and retain volunteers, including recruitment and volunteering via the Internet. The Republic of Korea Red Cross, for example, has an Internet recruitment programme. The web page contains the users’ profiles, to make it easy to match people to tasks, and candidates are interviewed face-to-face by the nearest branch.

“Voluntary service is one of our Fundamental Principles and it is based on action which is not prompted in any manner by desire for gain. We must take sustainable measures to better support, train and guide our volunteers, to ensure we can pursue our global action to help millions of vulnerable people who count on us every year for vital assistance, because volunteer management requires time, effort, commitment and resources,” President Suárez del Toro underlined.

The Federation progress report, entitled “Taking volunteers seriously”, covers a series of issues linked to successful volunteering policies, including recruitment, retention, recognition, training, health and safety, involvement in decision-making, new forms of volunteering, networking and peer support, as well as suitable legislation to promote and support volunteering.

Since the UN declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers, volunteer management practices have improved around the world, with many governments passing legislation to define and improve volunteer service. The International Federation has been working closely with several partners, including the United Nations Volunteers programme and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to improve volunteer management around the world. On World Volunteer Day, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world honour the essential work of their volunteers.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact: Marie-Françoise Borel, Information Officer Tel. + 41 22 730 43 46 / + 41 79 217 33 45 Media Service Duty Phone Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81