If volunteers were a country, they would be the 9th largest.
A report from Johns Hopkins shows that 140 Million people volunteer annually. If that was a country (let’s call it Volunteer Land), it would be just behind Russia in terms of population.
The value of all these volunteers is pretty staggering… The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project estimated the work of “Volunteer Land” to be at around $400 Billion, making ut #30 on the list of countries ranked by GDP, right above Colombia:
Beyond the $400 Billion value of hours donated, volunteering provides additional value, too, so the actual impact is actually much higher than what is stated above. It’s well known that volunteers give more money to charitable causes than non-volunteers, and they also spread information through their social networks helping influence even more donations as well as vital educational messages (like prevention, advocacy, safety, and more).
The World Giving Index — published by the Charities Aid foundation — used Gallup surveys of 195,000 people in 153 nations, to show how giving countries are. The Guardian featured this study with a great infographic in an article, Charitable Giving by Country: Who is the Most Generous?
Volunteering is not just something that a few “do-gooders” do in every community, it is a massive force helping build a better world — and it’s evolving, too. Beyond traditional projects (like painting homes or cleaning parks), people are engaging in more skills-based projects, called Pro-bono consulting or Experteering. The benefits to all stakeholders are so vast that companies are building international corporate volunteering programs — more info on these “ICV programs” here and here — as they are proven to develop more innovative and world-positive leaders.
In fact, volunteering has many surprising benefits to the volunteer, and TED Speaker Kare Anderson has a great article in Forbes about How To Make the Most of Your Volunteer Experience.
Certainly the world has its share of challenges, but it’s comforting to know that so many people are working tirelessly to help make it better, and are doing so in the most selfless way possible – as a volunteer.