I spend a lot of time working with volunteers, so I am never surprised when I hear stories of what they can accomplish, and I heard many great stories at the 2014 world conference in Broadbeach, Australia of IAVE -- the International Association for Volunteer Effort.
But the core discussion at this meeting of the only global volunteer network was much more ambitious: IAVE's call to action to the United Nations for the volunteer sector to be an integral part in the development of the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030.
Specific SDGs have yet to be articulated, but will follow a truly ambitious set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 2000 that included promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
What IAVE is calling for is nothing less than a seat at the table for the volunteer sector as an integral part of all global, national and local action plans supporting the SDGs and looking at volunteering, in all of the myriad ways it happens throughout the world, as an essential strategic asset to achieve those goals.
Because promoting voluntarism is an essential component of The Junior League Mission -- and understood as such by our more than 150,000 members in four countries -- I couldn't be happier!
But IAVE's call to action also carries a message for anyone who is committed to creating positive change in our communities, our nations and the world...the role of the volunteer, both as individuals and as members of organizations, is as important in its way as that of governments, businesses and NGOs.
In case you don't know it, IAVE is a great -- and valuable -- organization founded in 1970 by a group of volunteers from around the world who saw in volunteering a means of making connections across countries and cultures. It has grown into a global network of volunteers, volunteer organizations, national representatives and volunteer centers, with members in over 70 countries.
Here's what you can do to help. Go to IAVE's website and sign a petition supporting the call to action. It's a small step on the way to an important objective!