The Department of Rural and Community Development is the main government department responsible for volunteering in Ireland. The Department published Ireland’s first National Volunteering Strategy in December 2020.
The National Volunteering Strategy (2021-2025) sets out a long-term vision for volunteering and volunteers in Ireland. This Strategy sets out a general direction for government policy in relation to volunteers and the volunteering environment. The purpose of the Strategy is to recognise, support and promote the unique value and contribution of volunteers to Irish society. This Strategy has five strategic objectives:
Strategic Objective 1: To increase participation and diversity in volunteering including embracing new trends and innovation.
Strategic Objective 2: To facilitate, develop and support the Volunteering Environment so that it contributes to vibrant and sustainable communities.
Strategic Objective 3: To recognise, celebrate and communicate the value and impact of volunteers and volunteering in all its forms.
Strategic Objective 4: To promote ethical and skills-based international volunteering to deliver results for beneficiaries and to enhance Global Citizenship in Ireland.
Strategic Objective 5: To improve policy coherence on volunteering across Government both nationally and locally.
The definition of volunteering is set out in the National Volunteering Strategy and is defined as:
‘Volunteering is any time willingly given, either formally or informally, for the common good and without financial gain.’
This definition covers a wide range of ‘volunteering activities’ for example-
- Formal volunteering taking place within organisations (including institutions and agencies);
- Informal volunteering that which takes place outside an organisational setting; and
- The individual who, in many cases, does not consider what they do as volunteering but sees his or her actions as ‘lending a hand’ or ‘being neighbourly.’
‘To put it simply, volunteering is doing more than you have to, because you want to, because you care.’
Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development organisation and a support body for Volunteer Centres in Ireland. The key roles of Volunteer Ireland are:
- To recognize, support and celebrate volunteering in Ireland in a variety of ways including major campaigns like the National Volunteering Week and the Volunteer Ireland Awards
- To advocate on behalf of volunteers and volunteer involving organisations to create the best possible environment for volunteering in Ireland
- To manage I-VOL, the national database of Irish volunteering opportunities and listings
- To support Volunteer Centres based in each country in Ireland
- To deliver training in best practice in volunteer management to organisations that involve volunteers
- To provide support and guidance to companies interested in volunteering
- To develop and support best practice in volunteering and Volunteer Centres.