International Volunteer Day

Next Thursday, 5 December 2024

International Volunteer Day, also known as the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, is a United Nations observance celebrated around the world on December 5.

It is a day when volunteer organizations and their volunteers get their hard work commemorated and praised. It is also an opportunity for volunteers to show the work they do in their communities, on a national and international level, and encourage others to join them. 

three people wearing teeshirts that say volunteers standing behind boxes handing out bottles, a female volunteer in a bandana is smiling.


International Volunteer Day was established on December 17, 1985, by the United Nations General Assembly. The aim was to give organizations, foundations, and volunteers an opportunity to show their contributions to local and international communities and allow volunteers to have their work recognized.

The United Nations also helps Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) connect with other institutions in the private sector, charity foundations, and government agencies so that together they can set new goals for volunteering, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and spread their efforts further. Governments of the UN member states are also encouraged to give more support to volunteer organizations. 

  • There are currently an estimated 109 million full-time volunteers internationally
  • over a billion people do some form of volunteering, either formally or informally.
  • 30.3% of Americans do some kind of volunteering. Most volunteering is for Christian organizations. 
  • In the state of Utah over 50% of people volunteer. In contrast, Florida has the lowest rate of volunteers, at a mere 22.8%
  • The majority of volunteers are female. 

Volunteers are what keep charities working and moving forward. Most volunteers work without expecting anything in return, without being paid, and many do so at their own expense, of their money and their time. They work out of their own kindness and love to help others. There are many benefits to volunteering, not just the feeling of reward for helping others, it also strengthens the body and the mind. 

International Volunteer Day Themes

Because it is a United Nations holiday, there is a different theme for International Volunteer Day every year:

  • In 2019 the theme was: 'Volunteer for an Inclusive Future'  
  • In 2020 the theme was: 'Together we can through volunteering'
  • In 2021 the hashtag #volunteerNOW was used to highlight the positive change that volunteering can make for the future. 
  • In 2022 the theme was: 'Solidarity through Volunteering'

How to Observe International Volunteer Day

This is the perfect day to start volunteering if you have been thinking about doing it. There are many ways that someone can volunteer because we all have different strengths. Research local charities and contact them offering to help them with your skills, they might have some area you can help them with. 

  • If you can donate your time, then consider joining an organization like a food bank, an animal shelter, a hospital or nursing home, or even a library or national park. These places can usually always use an extra hand. 
  • If you are already a volunteer, think about some extra ways that you and your colleagues can help your communities. At the same time, you can organize an event that can act as a fundraiser, as well as an opportunity to inspire and recruit more people to help you.
International Volunteer Day
International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day - Next years

Friday, 05 December 2025

Saturday, 05 December 2026

Sunday, 05 December 2027

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