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May15–21

National Volunteering Week – May 15-21, 2023

National Volunteering Week is commemorated every third week of May in Ireland and this year it will be held on May 15 to 21. It aims to celebrate volunteers and the marvelous things they’ve helped organizations and individuals achieve. National Volunteering Week celebrates all things related to volunteering. Every year, there is a different theme that guides this week-long celebration. The theme for 2022 is “Celebrate and Reconnect,” with each day having a sub-theme ranging from the environment to arts and culture. National Volunteering Week was established in 1974 by a Presidential Proclamation to underline volunteering opportunities for everyone inclined.

History of National Volunteering Week

The formal practice of volunteering dates back to twelfth-century England, with over 500 hospitals that operated because of volunteers. However, people have likely been helping others for many years before that. In the seventeenth century, the word ‘volunteering’ was used for the first time. The word entered daily vocabulary in the eighteenth century when people began willingly joining military service. Organized volunteering was born from war — young people, women mainly, would come together to help wounded soldiers and collect essential supplies. Officially organized volunteering began in the nineteenth century. For example, the American Red Cross emerged during the American Civil War when people came together to provide medical care under the supervision of Claire Barton.

The Second World War led to another boost in the number of volunteers. However, volunteering efforts became directed overseas; academic institutions and workplaces began sending their students and employees to volunteer.

The development of the internet again changed the nature of volunteering. The connectivity brought allowed individuals and organizations worldwide to collaborate and reach people easily. Today, crowdfunding campaigns, virtual volunteering programs, international volunteering programs, and other such opportunities have become available. Moreover, potential volunteers can now find such listings easily and become aware of the numerous ways by which they can make a difference, thus making volunteering more accessible. Many countries have even recognized specific days or weeks dedicated to raising awareness about volunteering.

National Volunteering Week timeline

12th Century
The Volunteer Hospitals

Over 500 hospitals in Britain rely on volunteers to run.

17th Century
The Word Volunteer is First Used

The term ‘volunteer’ is first utilized.

1881
The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is created to help provide aid during the Civil War.

1974
The Launch of National Volunteering Week

National Volunteering Week first begins in Ireland.

National Volunteering Week FAQs

When is Global Volunteer Month?

April is Global Volunteer Month.

How many volunteers are there in the world?

There are over a billion volunteers worldwide.

What country has the most volunteers?

The U.S. has the most volunteers in the world.

How to Observe National Volunteering Week

  1. Celebrate the volunteers around you

    If you know someone who volunteers, try to encourage them. Your words of encouragement may inspire them to keep on volunteering.

  2. Volunteer yourself

    The world is in constant need of volunteers. If you can, sign up to become one.

  3. Talk about it on social media

    National Volunteering Week aims to make people aware of volunteering opportunities. Talk about the event on social media to make more people aware of National Volunteering Week.

5 Facts About Volunteering

  1. There are many global volunteers

    By 2021, there were over one billion volunteers in the world.

  2. There’s informal volunteering

    About 70% of volunteering happens in communities without the involvement of organizations.

  3. Women as informal volunteers

    Women make up approximately 59% of informal volunteers.

  4. Probability of volunteering

    People between the ages of 35-44 years are most likely to volunteer.

  5. Women volunteers are the majority

    Approximately 57% of global volunteers are women.

Why National Volunteering Week is Important

  1. It appreciates volunteers

    Volunteers often do essential work out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. National Volunteering Week appreciates such people.

  2. It encourages people to volunteer

    Volunteering has a great impact on communities. We think it’s vital that National Volunteering Week encourages people to volunteer.

  3. It makes volunteering opportunities more accessible

    People may want to volunteer but can’t find the right opportunity. National Volunteering Week helps make volunteering opportunities more accessible to those interested.

National Volunteering Week dates

YearDateDay
2022May 16Monday
2023May 15Monday
2024May 13Monday
2025May 12Monday
2026May 11Monday

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