Valuing Volunteering

Valuing Volunteering is a global action research project, conducted by VSO in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies, to understand how, when and why volunteering affects poverty.

The project aims to expand our knowledge of the specific attributes of volunteering as a development mechanism and the unique ways in which volunteering impacts on poverty. The lessons learnt through the research will be fed back into VSO and shared across the sector to inform and strengthen the design, implementation and impact evaluation of development interventions through volunteers.

The field work for the research is being conducted in four (originally five) countries: Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal and the Philippines.

The research process in each of these countries has been underway for varying lengths of time as the research start dates were staggered, with inquiries in the Philippines and Nepal beginning in May 2013 and inquiries in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique beginning in July/August 2013.

The choice of countries seeks to maximise geographical and programmatic spread, as well as the presence of the widest range of volunteering initiatives. The countries selected all have VSO-led programmes in-country but, in addition to exploring examples of VSO-led volunteering, the lead researchers are also investigating the broader volunteerism landscape including examples of national volunteer involving organisations, governments using volunteers and local formal, that is, attached to an organisation and informal, that is instigated and led by the community, volunteering.

The research is led in each country by an international VSO volunteer who works closely with a community of practice in country. That includes:

  • international and local volunteering organisations
  • NGOs
  • government institutions
  • corporates
  • community organisations interested in volunteering,
  • and finally, also individual international and local volunteers. 

Each lead researcher has focused their action research studies around two or more thematic areas including; education, livelihoods, health & HIV/Aids, participation and governance and the cross-cutting themes of gender, youth volunteering and environment.


Recent work