6 Ways to Celebrate International Volunteer Day

6 Ways to Celebrate International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day (IDV) is a United Nations Sanctioned Day celebrated on 5 December each year. International Volunteer Day is held in recognition of the volunteers who are working in solidarity around the world to answer calls in times of crisis. This year’s theme is #VolunteersActFirst. Here. Everywhere., which recognises the contributions of volunteers as first responders in times of crisis.

There’s no question that volunteers, in all capacities, make the world a better place. To help you raise awareness of the power of volunteering and show your appreciation for the work volunteers do, here are six ideas for celebrating International Volunteer Day.

1. Get your workplace involved in volunteering

The benefits of corporate volunteering are well established. Organisations that facilitate volunteer opportunities for their staff often benefit from skill development, improved morale, team building and a heightened reputation in the community they serve. You could be an arbiter of change this International Volunteer Day by initiating corporate volunteering in your workplace. You may want to start small by offering pro-bono services to those in need, or introducing something larger scale like a ‘volunteer day’ where all employees volunteer with a local charity. This resource from Volunteering Australia can help you get started.

If your organisation isn’t ready for corporate volunteering, why not consider a corporate partnership?

2. Become a volunteer

What better opportunity to finally sign up for that volunteering gig you’ve been thinking about than International Volunteer Day? Whether it’s serving dinner to people in need, helping out at a local animal shelter or building capacity in a developing community overseas, there are always organisations that can benefit greatly from your help.

Though there are some organisations that can benefit from short-term or one-off volunteering, most of them require some form of long-term commitment, even if it’s only once a month. This helps you build genuine relationships with the people you’re helping, and helps the organisation operate more consistently.

Volunteer Damien Rake with a young patient and mother at the community clinic Hatubuilico.
Volunteer Damien Rake with a young patient and mother at the community clinic Hatubuilico, East Timor, 2012.

3. Show a volunteer some love

Volunteers are amazing. They donate their time and energy to making their community, and the world, a better place. This International Volunteer Day, take the time to reach out to someone you know who volunteers and tell them how great they are. Send them an email, give them a call or take them out for coffee as a small pat on the back in recognition of their hard work.

4. Contribute to a volunteer program

If you don’t know anyone who volunteers but want to show your support, consider supporting an organisation that facilitates them. Palms Australia, an NGO that places skilled volunteers with grassroots organisations in remote communities that request their assistance, relies on the generosity of donors to continue their work. You can make a world of difference to the lives of both volunteers and the communities they work with by making a donation, here.

Volunteer reading a book to a child in Timor-Leste

5. Share volunteer stories

If you know someone who volunteers (or if you are one), you’ve probably heard some incredible stories that reaffirm the impact volunteering has on the global community. Take this International Volunteer Day as an opportunity to share this awareness by sharing a volunteering story with your network. Whether it’s a chat in the tea room at work, sharing an online story on social media or contacting the local media, sharing stories is one of the most powerful ways of garnering support for a meaningful cause.

6. Hold a themed lunch

Want to encourage volunteering for a particular cause? Use today as an opportunity to raise awareness while connecting with colleagues or friends over a delicious lunch. Want to raise awareness of volunteering in Myanmar? Organise a Burmese-inspired lunch! Nature conservation? Incorporate native ingredients! Animal rights? Why not make it vegan! There are countless ways you can use the much-loved medium of lunchtime to start a conversation about the power of volunteering to contribute to a better world.