A new approach to volunteer engagement in South Korea

Volunteering for yourself

We believe that volunteers are key to creating a just and sustainable world. So how do we build on the strength of volunteer movements to make volunteering as accessible, productive, and sustainable as possible? 

Recently we received an e-book from one of our member organizations, the Seoul Volunteer Center in South Korea.

“Volunteering is evolving into a new era,” HyunJeong Lim writes for the Center. “It’s not just about doing for others; it’s equally about doing for yourself.” Volunteering can recharge you and give you a sense of accomplishment. 

The mode of volunteering is also shifting, the Center says. “Individuals now engage in volunteer activities as part of their daily routines, sharing their experiences online.”

Seoul Volunteer Center has been developing a volunteer model they call crowd action. “Participants can seamlessly integrate acts of service into their daily lives, accumulating actions through both online and offline validations,” they write. With additional resources from sponsoring partners, these collected efforts can become vital support for the community. 

Volunteers from the Seoul Volunteer Center restore agricultural land damaged by flooding. (Photo by Human in Love)

Surprised and grateful

In September, for example, the Center’s Moa Volunteer Challenge focused on gathering unused denim from corporate employees. 167 pairs of jeans were collected and transformed into 30 pairs of shoes, which were given to single-parent families in the community.

When the Center asked volunteers about their experiences, they heard expressions of gratitude:

  • “It’s akin to building a relationship.”
  • “It gives me a chance to look around at my surroundings while helping others.” 
  • “I’m pleasantly surprised and grateful that I can contribute in a meaningful way.”

“We hope that the crowd action volunteer model is adopted by various sectors, including corporates and organizations,” the Center says. “The ultimate goal is to cultivate a volunteering culture in our lives, where taking proactive steps in our daily routines becomes second nature, and where participation is accessible to everyone.”

For more about crowd action and the work of Seoul Volunteer Center, read their e-book here.

South Korea will be the site of IAVE’s 27th World Volunteer Conference, hosted by Busan Metropolitan City Volunteer Centre, from 22-25 October 2024.

IAVE strives to build an inclusive network, open to individuals and organizations of all capacities and resources. For $40 a year, you or your organization can become a member of IAVE to receive exclusive benefits and opportunities. Learn more here.