It is estimated that volunteers contribute about $400 billion (USD) worth of services worldwide each year (calculate your contribution according to an average rate). Chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, is quoted in The Economist as saying that in Britain, formal volunteers each year do the work of 1.25 million ‘proper’ employees, and nearly a billion people are engaged in volunteering worldwide. Interestingly, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka lead the charts, thanks to national days of ‘compulsory volunteering’ in Turkmenistan. Yet the economic impact of volunteering is not captured by GDP statistics as no monetary transaction takes place.
Andy Haldane talks about three types of value that volunteering creates: economic, private and social. Just as we need to consider various types of capital to evaluate our own wealth, it’s important that we consider the types of value we might contribute through volunteering – at home or abroad.
One of the joys of no longer having to work is being able to determine what you will do, and for how much. We’ve spent part of our time in Fiji volunteering through IVI. Had we not already resigned, it would be impossible for us to take time off in the middle of the year like this.
Earlier this year, we were in Fiji when Cyclone Winston struck. We were out in the Yasawa islands when the resort manager handed us two weather reports – one out of the country’s capital, Suva, and one out of the nearest city, Nadi.
Each predicted a different path for the cyclone – one heading to Nadi, one heading to the Yasawas.
Continue reading “How can I help?”