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Updated on August 30, 2014

History of Volunteering

Volunteering was practiced thousands of years back in India in harvesting of paddy.Villagers were mobilised during the paddy harvesting season to work in the paddy fields.The volunteers were fed and served with toddy which is an alcoholic drink tapped from coconut trees .About 50 volunteers take part and sing folk songs while harvesting.

Formal volunteering started when Red Cross was formed in 1863 in Geneva.The Red Cross volunteered to nurse wounded soldiers during the war,deliver the supplies and entertain them.

American civil war was going on from1861 to 1865 and volunteers were performing the role that was similar to that of red cross.Over a period of time the role of volunteers was expanded into other activities.

Charity Commission

Charity commission also formed in 1853 in u k to monitor the activities of the voluntary organisations.Voluntary organisations have the option either to function as a charity within the frame work of of charity commission or to function as an independent organisation.

Function of the charity commission is to monitor that the charities conduct their business above board.People donate to charities hoping that the money contributed is put to good use.

Volunteer Participation

How many hours do you spend volunteering monthly.

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Present day organisation

There are more than 160000 charities in u k. 37 billion pounds are raised of which 19 billion is raised by top 1000 charities.About half the number of charities raise only about 10000 pounds each.

Volunteer work in varieties of sectors such as health,education,environment,social,animal protection and many others.Most of the volunteers work for local charities.Statistics show that 16 million people take part in volunteering once a month.Regular volunteers spend around 22 hours a month.Volunteering is contributing 11billion pounds to the economy.

Now increasing number of volunteers take part in natural disasters.Some examples are:

*Tsunami 2004

*Tsunami in Japan

*Cyclone Nargis in Burma

*Typhoon in Philippines

There are regular volunteers who take part more frequently.In u k about 16 million people take part in volunteering at least once a month.More than 50% of people give work commitment as a reason for not volunteering. Volunteering opportunities are not created by human beings .It just happens.Typhoons,Tsunamis ,cyclones ,earth quakes or floods do not happen to suit our convenience .It just happens.Is it due to climate change,Gods anger or any other reason.

In the same way volunteering cannot be undertaken to suit our availability.In my experience,it is an addiction.Like any other addiction such as alcohol,drugs,gambling or smoking ,you cannot keep away from volunteering opportunities.I can mobilise myself at very short notice to undertake any volunteering activity.Am I failing in my duties as a husband or father when I rush to help those who are facing hardship.

International Resolve

The voluntary sector is trying to gear to handle the ever increasing natural disasters,the demand to face the disasters is always on the increase. The international community is caught off guard in every natural disaster.The latest in such disasters is the typhoon in Philippines.Even after a week the exact extent of damage is not known.Over 10000 people are dead,500000 people homeless,number of towns destroyed and large number of chldren facing malnutrition,diarrhoea.

The rehabilitation,rehousing and resettlement is going to take number of years like any other disasters around the world.People need to be mobilised in large scale to undertake volunteering to help the people who are suffering due to no fault of theirs.

Financial contribution

Finance raised during the natural disasters and the immediate reaction by the public reaction is amazing.But the volunteering need does not match the financial support.Initial reaction and sport come from Governments around the world.Initial few days and weeks are crucial in supporting the affected communities.Medical,sanitation ,water supply and provision of food are provided by Governments all over the world.The volunteers get mobilised through charities.

14 British charities have joined together to deal with these emergencies.The interest of the international community will die down once the emergencies are over.Volunteers only can make it happen for the people at the receiving end.Media attention dies down after few weeks of any disaster.Only volunteers will continue to work on the ground until all the needs of the victims are met.


Dealing with orphans is a major part of rehabilitation.Orphanages under take to provide accommodation,education and normality into the lives of orphans .All these are long term process and the volunteers only can make this work in the long run.Volunteers provide necessary structural and emotional support for the young ones.

There are over 140 million orphans in the world according to UNICEF.They are subject to child trafficking,sexual abuse and child labour.I am passionate about this because I was orphaned at child birth and my aunt volunteered to bring me up,gave a good education and made a lot of sacrifices in the process.


Volunteers are most exposed to abduction,political bargain and even face death in conflict areas.They do not worry about their safety while helping others.Therefore the responsibility lies with the government and pressure groups to provide better protection for volunteers in conflict zones. International volunteering is very important in the modern world.British Dr Abbas Khan was jailed, tortured and killed in prison days before he was due to be released.

Volunteers contribution should be encouraged in order to see a better world.


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    • MelissaBarrett profile image

      Melissa Barrett 3 years ago

      Hi, please feel to delete this suggestion, but I just wanted to mention that your title actually could be mistakenly read as volunteer suck rather than Volunteers U.K.

    • profile image

      barzalona 4 years ago

      This is a very good article, it just shows how the author is contributing to raising awareness of volunteering. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Also volunteering helps you make new friends,contacts and increases your social and relationship skills. Well written keep it up.