International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day General Logo
A schoolgirl in Congo presents a sculpture commemorating International Volunteer Day to one of the United Nations volunteers.

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (5 December), more commonly referred to as International Volunteer Day (IVD), is an international observance mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer-involving organizations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[1] at local, national and international levels.

International Volunteer Day is celebrated by many non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector, among others. It is also marked and supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

UNV coordinates a campaign to promote IVD every year, building on the impact volunteers have in communities, nationally and globally for peace and development.[2]

In 2018 the focus of IVD is not only to celebrate volunteerism in all its facets, but also to highlight the role that volunteers play in building resilient communities[3]. It is worth noting that current estimates equate the global volunteer workforce to 109 million full-time workers. 30 per cent of volunteering that takes place formally through organizations, associations and groups; and 70 per cent occurs through informal engagement between individuals. Overall, 60% of the informal volunteers are women.

“Volunteers are often the first to act in times of crisis, helping millions to survive despite the risks. Their work upholds our common humanity.”

Secretary-General António Guterres, International Volunteer Day 2017 [4]


International Volunteer Day 2017 celebrations in Liberia

International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organizations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining United Nations (UN) support with a grassroots mandate, International Volunteer Day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212[5]

on 17 December 1985.

In 2012, in response to evolving experiences and recommendations, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme spearheaded a Five-Year International Volunteer Day Strategy, with the aim to make it more globally recognized and grassroots-owned.

Celebration of International Volunteer day (IVD) and the themes:

In the last six years, IVD was celebrated each year in over 80 countries annually. The IVD website receives around 50,000 page views every year, with around 150 stories posted which highlight over 50,000 volunteers, photos and videos of celebrations worldwide.

International Volunteer Day 2018 animated logo

IVD 2018 – “Volunteers build Resilient Communities”

IVD 2018 celebrates volunteer efforts that strengthen local ownership and the resilience of the community in the face of natural disasters, economic stresses and political shocks. The event on 5 December 2018 will focus on how volunteers can build resilient communities. [6]

IVD 2017 - “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.”

The focus of IVD 2017 was to recognize the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis, helping save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow.[7]

IVD 2016 - “Global Applause – give volunteers a hand”

Under this theme, IVD presented a round of global applause to celebrate volunteers everywhere and encouraged others to join in and contribute to peace and sustainable development.[8]

United Nations Volunteers in Egypt have collaborated with the Egyptian Red Crescent in implementing a joint 3-day IVD event from the 5th to the 7th of December

IVD 2015 - “Your world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!”

The goal of IVD 2015 was to start a dialogue about how volunteerism is vital to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda.[9]

IVD 2014 - “Make change happen, volunteer!”

The goal of IVD 2014 was to highlight the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grassroots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating spaces for participation that lead to stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.[10]

IVD 2013 - “Young. Global. Active.”

The goal of the event was to pay special tribute to the contribution of youth volunteers to global peace and sustainable human development, highlighting that young people act as agents of change in their communities.[11]

IVD 2012 - “Celebrate volunteering”

The event celebrated its commitment and hope for a better world. The main focus of IVD 2012 was awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organizations.[12]

Other Languages
српски / srpski: Svetski dan volontera
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Međunarodni dan volontera