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Setting the standard: Leadership in responsible Volunteering for Development


Over a billion people across the world volunteer each year. Creating a new Global Standard for volunteering for development will help ensure that their work is as responsible, effective and impactful as it can be.

Volunteers make a vital contribution to development progress all over the globe; but their efforts must be properly supported to make sure their hard work and energy is harnessed in the most positive and impactful way.

Fred Sadia signing the Kigali Declaration VSO

Fred Sadia, Secretary & National Coordinator at Volunteer Involving Organizations Society - Kenya, was the first to sign the Kigali Declaration at IVCO 2019

VSO were delighted to launch the ‘Global Volunteering Standard’ on behalf of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum) at the International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations’ Conference (IVCO) 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda on the 28 October 2019

VSO played a key role in supporting Forum to develop and produce the Global Standard to ensure that volunteering is responsible, impactful and continues to advance quality of volunteer involving organisations contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Global Standard was developed for the volunteering for development community, by the community. The process involved contributions from organisations across the sector and consultations with hundreds of local, national and international volunteer involving organisations and development practitioners around the world.

"We need to ensure that volunteers are properly trained and supported", Rosemary Mbabazi speaking at IVCO 2019 VSO

Rosemary Mbabazi underlined the importance of making sure volunteers are supported to make the most positive impact in their work.

What is the Global Standard?

The Kigali Declaration signed by volunteering for development organisations at IVCO VSO

The Kigali Declaration was signed by leaders and representatives for volunteering for development organisations at IVCO 2019

The standard is not simply a set of rules, it is a resource that can be taken up by any organisation working in the volunteering and development sectors. It is a tool that will strengthen outcomes and provide care and protection for volunteers, communities and individuals.

The Global Standard ensures that:

  • Development programmes are designed with local communities so they effectively respond to community needs.
  • Community members and volunteers are kept safe and free from harm
  • Volunteers are fully prepared, trained and supported for their volunteer experience
  • The intended impact of the programme is identified beforehand and tracked throughout

The Global Standard can be accessed here.

Alicia Herbert speaking at IVCO 2019 VSO/Alicia Herbert

"The Global standard will help ensure volunteering is impactful and contributing towards the SDGs" - Alicia Herbert Head of Children, Youth and Education Department at DFID,

What's next?

Over 2020 – 2021, we will be working with volunteer involving organisations across the world to validate the Global Standard by testing it in practice using a self-assessment methodology. We’ll gather learnings and good practice and share them with the volunteer involving community to further refine the Global Standard for worldwide roll out in 2022.

We recognise the scale and breadth of volunteering that is taking place across the world and will be particularly looking to partner with volunteering for development organisations based across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.