↑ Return to Volunteer Measurement

About Volunteer Measurement

THE JOHNS HOPKINS VOLUNTEER MEASUREMENT PROJECT seeks to boost our understanding of the true size and scope of volunteer activity around the world by improving the measurement of volunteer work in the official economic statistics. Collecting accurate, comparable data will allow policy makers, volunteer advocates, and nonprofit organizations to establish the effective and enabling environment needed to ensure that this crucial renewable resource is cultivated and nurtured.
Building on the Center’s Comparative Nonprofit Sector and UN Handbook projects, we estimate that 971 million people engage in volunteer work in a typical year, contributing US$1.348 trillion to the global economy. This means that, if the world’s volunteers constituted the population of a country, it would have the second largest adult population in the world, behind only China, and would boast the seventh largest economy.
In all but a handful of countries, however, existing information on the extent and character of volunteering is anecdotal in nature or has been collected in ways that does not allow comparison across time or localities. As a result, volunteering remains under-valued and its potentials under-realized. This is the problem which the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies set out to solve with the development of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work.

The ILO Manual offers the first official, permanent system for the collection of cross-nationally comparable data on volunteering. Developed by the Center in cooperation with the ILO and an international Technical Experts Group, the Manual has been specifically designed to measure the amount and character of volunteering through regular labor force or other household surveys, making it both feasible and affordable to implement regularly. Doing so will:

  • Boost the visibility and credibility of volunteering.
  • Improve the management of volunteering.
  • Assess effectiveness of volunteer promotion efforts.
  • Document the enormous impact of volunteer effort.
  • Promote a more enabling policy environment for volunteering.


The remaining challenge. To date, 9 countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, and South Africa) have committed to implementation, but use of the Manual remains optional. Because this tool’s greatest value can be derived through implementation in the largest possible number of countries, the ILO has authorized the Center to launch a global dissemination, technical assistance, and implementation campaign to ensure effective use of the Manual and to create a mechanism to assemble and report the results.
To this end, the Center has joined forces with the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) & Centro di Servizio per il Voluntario del Lazio (SPES) to carry out this campaign in Europe, and with the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) & Global Service Leaders in association with the Meridian International Center to pursue these activities in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

More information. For more information about this project, or to inquire about getting involved in the promotion effort, please contact Project Manager Megan Haddock.

Permanent link to this article: http://ccss.jhu.edu/research-projects/volunteer-measurement/about-volunteer-measurement