Global Volunteering Forum 2014

The Global Review on Volunteering, the Organisational Capacity Assessment & Certification process and numerous meetings and other consultation processes have revealed significant challenges facing National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in both growing and diversifying their volunteer base and in deepening the quality of their engagement. 

Many of these challenges have been facing us for years, whilst others are new and emerging challenges.  There is an urgent need for serious reflection on the future of volunteerism in our Movement that is beyond the approaches we have previously taken. The IFRC and the Thai Red Cross are organizing the Global Volunteering Forum 2014 to challenge the paradigms about volunteering and explore new approaches and avenues to remain relevant to volunteers in today’s context and the future.

Aims of the Forum

  • Provide a space for participants to share experiences, learn from each other and to think collaboratively about innovation and solutions to challenges.
  • Support participants to build connections across the Globe that can serve as networks for peer support, coaching and collaboration beyond the event.
  • Develop strategies that can be implemented to strengthen volunteering; reflecting on and addressing the real issues underpinning our challenges.
  • Provide a platform for the broader Movement learning strategy on Volunteerism.

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The Difference – Meeting Design Concept

The Global Volunteering Forum 2014 (hereafter called The Difference) will be unlike any meeting ever held in the Red Cross and Red Crescent.   The Difference will focus on building a space for peer learning and collaboration.  It will use cutting edge meeting design techniques.  The atmosphere will be highly participatory and will be characterized by;

  • A meeting space that promotes reflection, conversation, creativity and robust debate among participants.
  • An agenda informed and designed by participants, through online activities in the lead up to the event as well as during it.
  • Using techniques such as knowledge cafés, open space technology, market squares, conversational leadership approaches, interactive presentations, team work on projects and storytelling.
  • Incorporating  stakeholders through technology from around the world who are virtually participating in the global forum  including ‘Hangouts on Air’, text walls and online forums. 
  • Strategies to help participants identify and build connections and networks (there will be a half day event on the first day that is designed to ignite this approach and numerous other initiatives throughout the forum).

Facilitators will be drawn from an internal pool of National Societies and will be trained by experts in the necessary methodologies. Throughout the forum there will not be scheduled breaks but food and refreshments will be constantly available.  People and groups will have the freedom to take breaks as they need or when their work reaches natural lulls.  Mobile phones and other electronic devices will not be allowed during the meeting.  Right from the outset of the meeting participants will be aware that they are in for something different!    


A significant component of the lead up to The Difference will involve strategies that promote ‘connection before content’, aiming to strengthen networks and allow the content of Volunteerism to emerge organically.  The first of these strategies - Randomised Coffee Trials - has already commenced.  In the coming months, actions such as ‘live learning moments, facilitated through Webinars and Hangouts on Air will provide opportunities to further connect people and also to begin to develop content specific learning. Participants will work with volunteers and the communities they serve to assemble stories and learning from their own National Societies or organisations to bring into the meeting. Outcomes of Movement meetings and regional conferences will be utilised to help shape the agenda. The findings of the Global Review will also be a catalyst.   

The cumulative impact of these pre-learning strategies will be that participants will already be better connected (and have begun to function as a team and support network), and have begun to explore together their challenges and have been exposed to ideas and innovation from among themselves.

Post Action

The Difference will be an impetus for the ongoing momentum to follow. Strategies will be developed during the forum to help facilitate ongoing engagement between participants and support mechanisms for people seeking to drive change in their National Societies and wider humanitarian sector.  A key to this will be in realistically identifying the obstacles to implementing new approaches and working together to find strategies to address these challenges.


Since the challenges facing volunteerism are multi-faceted and range from broader organisational issues through to technical matters of volunteer management, participants should reflect multiple levels and contexts of National Societies including;

  • Senior leadership
  • Volunteer focal points and Branch or technical managers who work extensively with volunteers
  • Volunteers with leadership responsibilities at the Branch or Headquarters

All participants must complete all  pre-learning activities. There will be a strategy to engage those who cannot attend the meeting physically into the discussions, these will include pre-learning and gathering of stories and experiences, technological collaboration tools during the meeting and encouragement to hold national level events post meeting.  External partners will actively participate and contribute to the outcomes of the meeting.  They will especially contribute toward supporting participants to think critically and creatively and to collectively be inspired and think big!

Participant numbers are expected to be around 200, from at least 100 National Societies and external partners.  The global forum will be in English.  There will be interpretation and translation support by volunteers for the other IFRC working languages.  

Registration and Registration Fee :  450 Swiss francs or 490 US dollars

Each participant or organization is expected to pay his own fees.  The Thai Red Cross has been able to reduce costs substantially.  The registration fee will cover:  accommodation, meals, local transportation, and conference package for 4 days (1-4 December 2014).  For those requiring to come earlier or staying on after 4 December, additional cost would be borne by the participants. Participants will be able to register online in the coming days.

Why Attend?

Further information

IFRC Global Volunteering Forum 2014 is broadcasting live from Bangkok, Thailand at  Please click on the link to view the live broadcast.

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