2013 stats – UN’s online volunteering service

The United Nations’ Online Volunteering service, which is managed by the UN Volunteers program out of Bonn, Germany, part of UNDP, has released some 2013 statistics about its service. In its March newsletter, UNV reports:

In 2013, the number of organizations that joined the service continued to grow (by 18% compared to 2012). 63% of the new organizations that benefited from online volunteers’ support were NGOs and other civil society organizations.

The number of online volunteers remained stable. Of the 11,328 online volunteers mobilized in 2013, 58% were female and 60% below 30 years old. 60% of the volunteers were from developing countries and 2% indicated they were people with disabilities.

By “remained stable”, I guess UNV means the number of online volunteers didn’t increase over 2012 numbers. What I wonder is what UNV is really counting – are these 11,328 people that expressed interest in online volunteering assignments, or people that actually participated in those assignments? Sad to say that most volunteers that sign up for assignments never actually participate in such, usually because the requesting organization never replies to the expression of interest.

What I love is that 60% of the volunteers were from developing countries – that’s something that has been true since I was directing the service from 2001-2005. It’s a number that shocks some people, but not me; when I talk with people in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa and East Asia about virtual volunteering, the excitement is palpable.

The majority of the 17,370 online volunteering assignments posted benefitted education (18%) or youth (14%). 8% were gender-related. The majority of assignments benefitted projects in Sub-Saharan Africa (38%) and projects with a global reach (33%).

But I’d love to see the numbers regarding types of virtual volunteering tasks – how many were web design-related, how many were related to consulting or advising in the area of a volunteer’s expertise, etc. And which proved most popular with people signing up for assignments?

On the Virtual Volunteering wiki, you can find a page listing more virtual volunteering research and statistics from a variety of researchers and other sources.

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