Call for articles: The role of volunteers in sport and development
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sportanddev.org invites you to submit articles for the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development.

December 5 is the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It has been marked since 1985 and provides the opportunity for volunteers to highlight their achievements and organisations to celebrate their volunteers.

Large parts of the world will also be celebrating Christmas in December. Many turn their attention to altruism during this time of year, donating money or volunteering their time to work with disadvantaged members of their community.

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, whether to advance in their careers, fill their time or respond to the needs of an organisation and the people it supports.

Volunteer work is crucial to many non-profit organisations. A critical media landscape and competitive fundraising environment can put non-profits under pressure to both reduce administration costs and produce meaningful results. Volunteers can be crucial in providing extra support to organisations with few staff and high workloads, leading to improved services for those that benefit from their projects.

But the relationship between development and volunteerism is complex. Some question the value of volunteers’ work, arguing that complex issues cannot be solved by inadequately trained team members. On the other hand, the informal nature and lack of safeguarding measures that characterise some volunteer work has led to occasional instances of volunteers abusing their position. 

Others argue that volunteers themselves are exploited and that NGOs have in some instances reinforced social divisions. Through unpaid internships a situation can occur where careers in the sector are most readily available to those with enough financial resources to support themselves while working for free. 

But what role do volunteers play in the sport and development sector? We would love to hear your experiences or opinions. The article topic is up to you and so is the format – personal stories, commentary articles and research reports are all welcome – but here are some questions to help spur some ideas:

  • Have you volunteered for a sport and development organisation? How was your experience?
  • Does your organisation recruit volunteers? What is their role in your work?
  • Is voluntary work essential for those wanting to break into the sport and development sector? What would your advice be to a young person planning his/her next steps?
  • What is the impact of “voluntourism” projects involving sport?

Submit an article

If you would like to contribute an article, please contact [email protected] with your idea to discuss next steps. Articles should be submitted by 18:00 (CET) on 1 December 2016 and should not exceed 400 words.

Writing for sportanddev.org highlights your work, improves your writing skills and increases your visibility within the community. Check out our recent infographic to learn more about the benefits. All those interested can submit articles at any time: just set up a ‘Team Player’ profile (free) and post your article, publication, job opportunity, event or digital media.



Senior Project Manager
International Platform on Sport and Development