2021-2025 Strategic Plan



A challenge for any organization as it looks towards the future is how to stay rooted in its past while reaching for new horizons.

At IAVE, we are proud to have an incredibly strong origin story centered on a small group of volunteers seeking to create a global network of people who believed in the power of volunteering to change the world. A group of friends, who became closer friends, as they added more people and organizations to their ranks.

From that beginning, we built a rich body of half a century’s work across our core functions of advocacy, knowledge creation and leadership development. Our differentiators – as told to us by our stakeholder groups – are that we speak with a truly global and diverse voice and that we possess authentic representation from the Global South. Our stakeholders also tell us we have unrivaled expertise and integrity in volunteering leadership at the national and regional levels, and within the private sector and that we are a global connector, an advocate, and a valuable network builder. And, ultimately, a thought leader who is helping to advance the conversation and understanding on the importance of volunteering and volunteering leadership.

The world is a challenging place these days, perhaps much more so than when we first opened our doors back in 1970. However, if the COVID-19 global pandemic has taught us anything it is that we must embrace the challenges we face in order to remain relevant to those we serve. While we certainly don’t have all the answers, we do have the fundamental questions and the willingness to keep asking them of ourselves: What are the barriers volunteer leaders face globally? How can IAVE continue to be an active partner in removing those barriers in order to accelerate and scale the impact of volunteering around the world?

As we embark upon our next fifty years of service, we intend to build upon our history and our differentiators. We still believe in the power of volunteering to change the world and we pledge to meet the future with a renewed and refreshed purpose and commitment to our stakeholders, our members, and to volunteering leadership around the globe.

Ruth Lewin
Board Chairperson

Nichole Cirillo
Executive Director

Ruth Lewin
Board Chairperson

Nichole Cirillo
Executive Director

Our Vision

IAVE envisions a world where volunteering is recognized and supported as vital to creating a fair, peaceful, sustainable, and compassionate world.

Our Mission

IAVE creates a more just and sustainable world by enabling the leaders, organizations, and environments that empower volunteers.

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At IAVE, we know that when people get involved in their communities, things change for the better. We have consistently seen evidence of this truth over the past several years. For example, volunteers played crucial roles in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Volunteers have helped to form and inform our understanding of both racial injustice and the climate emergency. Through their actions, these volunteers have become empowered with the confidence, skills, and knowledge necessary to effect important change.1

Of course, while volunteering makes us better, it makes the world better, too. The estimated 1 billion people worldwide who volunteer each year create a collective expression of civic engagement2 that builds community cohesion and resilience that is fundamental to making a better3 life for us all. It is imperative, perhaps now more than ever, that IAVE use its voice and influence to actively and continuously promote a global narrative that substantiates and sustains this effort.

We also know that leadership plays a critical role in creating and sustaining environments that enable greater and more effective volunteering. We believe that volunteer leaders, be they individuals or organizations, are critical to supporting, valuing, and developing volunteering at the national and regional levels. These leaders maintain active relationships and partnerships with volunteer- involving organizations, governments, corporations, and institutions. They are the convenors of myriad local organizations in the communities they serve, harnessing the power for collective action, and promoting the role of volunteering at the local and societal level.

These leaders – and volunteers in general – are the world’s advocates, activists, and change-makers. Our renewed mission centers on ensuring that volunteers are safe and supported in their work and allowed to become recognized as legitimate and important actors in achieving a just and sustainable world.

Photo: De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde-School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies, Philippines

Our Guiding Principles


IAVE recognizes and respects the variety of ways people give leadership to volunteering and engage as volunteers – from individual acts of helping to large-scale collective action, from spontaneous response to needs and issues to structured formal volunteer programs; from programs created and sustained by NGOs, business, and government to those that are powered by the energy and leadership of concerned, committed individuals.


IAVE recognizes, values, and supports the participation of volunteers without regard to their cultural and ethnic origin, religion, age, gender and physical, social, and economic position and citizenship status. We have a particular interest in ensuring that opportunities for historically marginalized groups are available and valued.


IAVE places high value on developing strong, sustained, mutually beneficial partnerships with those individuals, organizations, and governments that share our belief in the power of volunteering to change the world. By making this a primary way of work, it enables us to leverage limited resources into significant global impact.


IAVE recognizes the vital importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means to address the world’s most critical challenges. We are committed to helping realize the effective, impactful engagement of volunteers in the effort to advance the achievement of these goals.

Our Pillars of Work


IAVE advocates for the global recognition of volunteering as vital to the creation of a just and sustainable world. We strive for equity and a diverse share of voice to include volunteering leaders and organizations and tocreate an enabling and empowering environment for global volunteering.

Knowledge Creation & Sharing

IAVE advances volunteering’s global practice, efficacy, representation, and influence by generating an evidence base around effective volunteering at the individual, organizational and societal level. We connect and convene people together to share experience, expertise, and ideas. We are recognized as sector thought leaders and generously share our data and evidence broadly.

Leadership Development

IAVE creates spaces which affirm and grow a global culture of volunteering, giving recognition to the importance of volunteers enhancing social cohesion. We accomplish this through supportive networks such as our Global Corporate Volunteer Council (GCVC) and our Global Network of Volunteering Leadership (GNVL) and through global convenings such as our biennial World Volunteer Conference.

Photo: Naua, Jordan

Our Strategic Goals

  • Strategic Goal 1IAVE provides a global voice that values and gives recognition to the important contribution of volunteers to building a more just and sustainable world.
  • Strategic Goal 2IAVE works toward a global environment which values inclusion and endorses, protects, and supports all volunteers in having safe and supportive volunteering environments.
  • Strategic Goal 3IAVE maximizes the effectiveness of Global Corporate Volunteer Council and Global Network of Volunteering Leadership members as changemakers enabling them to facilitate and grow volunteer engagement to help solve the world’s social, economic, and environmental challenges.
  • Strategic Goal 4IAVE is recognized as a global authority and innovator on volunteering.
  • Strategic Goal 5IAVE is a well-managed, results-oriented, and responsive organization making efficient use of all resources, serving as a worthy steward of all philanthropic investments and exemplifying outstanding staff leadership and governance. 19

Photo: Volunteering Matters, United Kingdom

Download the Strategic Plan

Download a copy of our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan to learn more about our key priorities and initiatives.