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International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 2021

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The History of International Volunteer Day

Volunteerism is one of the most important delivery mechanisms for economic, social, and environmental transformation that ensures lasting results with its capacity to change the attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors of people.  Through volunteering, people become actors of change and get a chance to partner in attaining local and international progress towards global peace and sustainable human development. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program acknowledges the shared global values that underpin volunteerism such as free will, equity, commitment, engagement, compassion, solidarity, respect, and empathy for others.

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, also called International Volunteer Day (IVD), was adopted in 1985 by the U.N. General Assembly and is commemorated on 5th December every year. The day recognizes people and organizations who volunteer their energy and time to improve the lives of people in need. It has provided opportunities for people, organizations, foundations, and governments, to set goals and obtain them. International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development invigorates volunteerism by recognizing the efforts of volunteers from all over the world.

The Theme of International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 2021

Each year, the U.N. declares a specific theme focusing on different aspects surrounding volunteerism. Some of the recent themes have been:

  • 2020: Together We Can Through Volunteering.
  • 2019: Volunteer for an inclusive future.
  • 2018: Volunteers build resilient communities.
  • 2017: Volunteers Act First.
  • 2016: Global Applause – give volunteers a hand.
  • 2015: Your world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!

The theme for this year’s International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is “Volunteer now for our common future”, which will focus on inspiring people, leaders, decision-makers, or citizens across the world to take action for the planet and its people.

Benefits of Volunteering

  1. Every volunteer act is an act of kindness. It is a way to pay it forward with no expectations of anything in return.
  2. Volunteering is a gesture of goodwill and peace. No one understands the phrase, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive”, more than volunteers.
  3. Volunteers act as the voice for the voiceless and the world would be so unaccommodating without them.
  4. Volunteers lend a helping hand to people who are in desperate need.
  5. Volunteerism strengthens the body, so it is good for health.
  6. Volunteerism lessens stress and improves mood.
  7. By volunteering, people have a better chance of getting employed.


Volunteers helping with donations
Fig 1.0 Volunteers helping with donations

How to participate in International Volunteer Day

Are you a volunteer?  If so, reflect on the successes of your organization and how can it continue to impact your community positively. If you aren’t a volunteer, look for a service organization, learn more about them, and offer your skills and time. There are various service organizations that need volunteers in these areas:

  • Local libraries
  • Food pantries
  • Hospitals
  • Animal rescue shelters
  • Retirement homes
  • National parks

There are also various websites that can help you find opportunities for volunteerism in your area. They include AllForGood.org and VolunteerMatch.org. If you would like to volunteer abroad, some of the best countries to offer your skills are Kenya, South Africa, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Australia.

Every year, UNV oversees the activities of International Volunteer Day on 5th December to promote the tireless efforts of UN Volunteers and volunteers around the world. Every day, volunteers sacrifice their effort and time to drive climate action, to ensure the people often left behind are included, and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When people participate in solving problems, the solutions they come up with are more likely to be possible and lasting. Volunteers engage communities and help build a better future that is safe for us all.

For the generations of tomorrow, we must be accountable for the changes required to build a better future now. Recognizing, encouraging, and promoting volunteerism is vital in creating a more inclusive and equal future for communities worldwide. In the lead-up to #IVD2021, we celebrate the contributions of the millions of people who volunteer now around the world. There are 970 million volunteers all over the world, but the world could always use more! Volunteer NOW!



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