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The Impact of Rotary Volunteering - 47 Million Hours a Year and Counting

According to a new study released on December 5, 2019 by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, with just 563 paid employees globally, Rotary International annually mobilizes volunteer effort equivalent to nearly 27,000 full-time paid workers. What is more, this study reveals that the efforts of Rotary volunteers save communities an estimated US$850 million in service costs per year.

The Scope and Scale of Rotary Volunteering presents ten key findings that powerfully demonstrate the significant renewable resource of volunteer effort that service organizations like Rotary are generating. For a world challenged to meet a demanding set of Sustainable Development Goals in the face of withering environmental catastrophes and limited governmental and philanthropic resources, the lesson from this report is clear: volunteer service may provide an enormously valuable contribution toward the achievement of the ambitious goals that the international community has set for itself.

This ground-breaking new report, undertaken by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies with support from Rotary International is the first systematic, empirical analysis of the extent of volunteer activity generated by a major global service organization using the definition of volunteer work and survey methodology outlined in the International Labour Organization’s Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work.

“By applying these internationally-sanctioned tools, we now have the first solid, empirical data on the considerable scale of international volunteer effort stimulated by a leading global service organization and the value of the services the resulting substantial army of Rotary volunteers contributes to the health, education, and welfare of communities across the world,” noted Dr. Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies and lead author on this report. “Rotary is to be commended for subjecting its activities to such rigorous and objective measurement and for honoring the strictures that such scientific data-gathering imposes. We hope their example will inspire other organizations to do likewise.”

“We are proud to be the first global membership organization to conduct an empirical analysis of our volunteers’ impact using Johns Hopkins University’s systematic methodology,” said John Hewko, General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International. “This is just the beginning of using the most innovative tools of measurement to capture and enhance our impact. As we better understand the vast contributions of volunteer work, we can mobilize this remarkable but often undervalued resource to better the world and allow it to thrive in the years to come.”


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