LACK OF INTERMEDIARY SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS
Another common obstacle to fulfillment of volunteerism laws or policies is a lack of intermediary support organizations. Successful volunteerism initiatives require participation by and active partnerships between government, civil society, and the private sector. Governments may be responsible for setting policy or passing laws, but it is individual volunteers and volunteer-utilizing organizations within civil society who will carry out the laws or policies.
In order to promote partnerships among government, civil society, and the private sector to support good implementation of volunteerism initiatives, an increasing number of countries around the world have created national task forces or committees on volunteering comprised of government, civil society, and private sector representatives; still others have turned to national or local volunteer centers that bring volunteers, volunteer- involving organizations, and government officials under one roof. Indeed, the creation of national volunteer centers has been one of the most common steps taken to promote volunteerism around the world, with dozens of countries including Australia, Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Peru, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Zambia all establishing volunteer centers since 2001.xvi In Croatia, a 2007 Law on Volunteering created a National Board of Development for Volunteering as an advisory body to the government, composed of representatives of government and civil society, responsible for developing activities to promote and improve the position of volunteers in society. As part of activities associated with IYV 2001, Thailand established centers to provide information, education, and matching services for volunteers in all seventy-five provinces.
The purposes, responsibilities and structures of these centers differ and depend upon the reasons for their establishment and the functions they perform. In general they are responsible for implementation of a law or policy and coordination of activities to promote volunteering. Often they are composed of representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector – thus ensuring that different needs and positions are represented and considered in the implementation of activities. For example, the Philippines’ “National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency” is responsible for implementing the Act on Institutionalizing a Strategy for Rural Development, Strengthening Volunteerism, and Other Purposes (2006) by reviewing and formulating policies and guidelines concerning national volunteer service, and providing technical services and capacity building assistance to volunteers and volunteer organizations.
LEGAL OBSTACLES TO VOLUNTEERISM
Finally, one of the most common obstacles to volunteerism is a country’s existing laws. Policymakers should review a variety of existing laws to determine whether they unintentionally create obstacles or unnecessary burdens to volunteerism. As the discussion below demonstrates, in many cases the most important laws affecting volunteerism are not found in freestanding “volunteer” laws but rather in the provisions of labor codes, tax and social insurance laws, immigration rules, civil liability laws, and workplace safety and health rules. It is therefore essential that these existing laws be subject to a thorough review by policymakers interested in promoting volunteerism.