Introduction: What is the Unique Contribution of Volunteering to International Development?

Volume 46 Number 5
Published: September 3, 2015
This editorial article introduces this IDS Bulletin on the value of volunteering. The issue is based on the global action research project Valuing Volunteering, undertaken in partnership between Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and IDS, which explored how volunteering contributes to poverty reduction and sustainable positive change in Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal and the Philippines, and the factors that prevent it from doing so. Two core research approaches were used to collect and analyse insights about volunteering; participatory systemic inquiry (PSI) and systemic action research (SAR). In total, some 3,700 people reflected on volunteering during the research process. While recognising the issues that many current forms of volunteering can create, this collection of articles highlights the potential of volunteering, when understood as a relational and collaborative endeavour, which is sometimes at odds with the pressures on the sector to professionalise and compete.


  • Volunteering
  • VSO
  • Participation
From Issue: Vol. 46 No. 5 (2015) | What is the Unique Contribution of Volunteering to International Development