National policies may be adopted by the entire government / cabinet or by specific ministries within the government. Policies issued by specific ministries tend to be easier to implement than national policies because they involve fewer actors; on the other hand, this can also be a source of difficulty if it means that “buy in” has not been obtained from important stakeholders, including other ministries. Ministry policies by necessity focus on the field that is the specialty of the ministry and do not address volunteerism across sectors.
LOCAL LAWS AND POLICIES
Local policies and laws are often used to support specific development needs within a given community that may differ from the needs of the broader national community. Local policies and laws are also sometimes utilized by local governments in countries where the national government has not yet embraced a law or policy on volunteerism, as is the case in the city of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Local laws can also be used where a national law has been passed but not yet implemented, as is the case in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where a local law to provide technical assistance, training, and recognition of volunteer activities was enacted while implementing regulations for a national law continued to be negotiated. Common issues addressed at the local level are allocations of local government funds to support volunteerism, celebration and recognition of volunteer awareness days, events specially targeted to engage citizens in voluntary activities, cooperation between CSOs and volunteering centers in the placement of volunteers, and involvement of foreign volunteers in local programs. In Estonia, the National Development Plan for Volunteering was adopted after a cross-sector working group including representatives of several ministries and CSOs was set up to review the draft law. After multiple roundtables, more than 45 comments made by the working group were incorporated into the final document.
THE DRAFTING PROCESS
The individuals or organizations with formal authority to draft a new volunteer law or policy will depend on the legal and political structures and traditions of the country. For example, a volunteerism policy or law designed to address youth unemployment might be drafted by a country’s Ministry of Labor or Ministry of Youth, whereas a law or policy intended to create tax incentives for volunteerism might begin in the country’s revenue collection authority. In some cases national legislators may be the originators of laws and policies, while in other cases draft laws may be written by CSOs and submitted to parliaments for their review and consideration. Regardless of where a law or policy is initially drafted, the countries with the most successful initiatives convene multi-sector working groups to conduct substantive drafting and mobilize public support, take time to evaluate the process of decision-making and lobbying, and consider implementation and monitoring plans.
MULTI-SECTOR WORKING GROUPS
The government authority or civil society coalition that is responsible for drafting should convene a working group of stakeholders to assist in the drafting of the new law or policy. Stakeholders include representatives of other affected ministries, regulators and government officials charged with implementation of the new law or policy, CSOs, volunteers, academics, lawyers, and other community representatives. Convening a multi-sector drafting group will be significantly easier if a well-designed participatory process has been embraced from the start of the volunteerism initiative, because individuals and organizations asked to participate in needs assessments and goal-