Our volunteers

Our 14 million volunteers worldwide are the beating heart of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). They are our strength. They are what define us. And they help make the world a safer and more peaceful place every single day.

Volunteering has been a part of our network since we were founded over 150 years ago. To this day, voluntary service—helping others without desire for personal gain—remains one of our Fundamental Principles guiding everything we do.

When you hear ‘Red Cross’ or ‘Red Crescent’, you might picture people running with stretchers or handing out food. But this only scratches the surface of what our incredible volunteers do. Our volunteers are also involved in activities such as:

  • Running telephone hotlines to support isolated communities
  • Providing comfort and care to people on the move
  • Leading community health campaigns so people know how to live long and healthy lives
  • Search and rescue efforts and reuniting families in the wake of a disaster
  • Running youth programmes

And much, much more.

Beyond delivering services, our volunteers play a vital role improving community resilience and unity. They also advocate fiercely on behalf of vulnerable people. The scale and scope of what they undertake and achieve every day across the world is astonishing.

What do our volunteers have in common?

A volunteer with the German Red Cross offers a warm drink and support to a homeless person on a cold night

They are motivated by helping others

Our volunteers do lots of different activities but are united by the same goal: to serve humanity. Often people join their local Red Cross or Red Crescent society as a temporary volunteer in the wake of a disaster. Many enjoy volunteering so much they stay on—sometimes for many decades.

Volunteers from the Kenyan Red Cross deliver a community awareness session

They are local

Our biggest strength as a humanitarian network is that our volunteers come from the very communities they serve. This means they have firsthand knowledge of, and are trusted by, their communities.

The IFRC and Indonesian Red Cross are helping to prepare for and prevent the spread of diseases through our community epidemic and pandemic preparedness programme

They are diverse

You don’t need to be a superhero or have lots of qualifications to volunteer. You just need the motivation and time to spare. Our volunteers are incredibly diverse and of all ages and backgrounds. We believe we are stronger in this diversity and we welcome anyone and everyone to join us.

A volunteer with the Hellenic Red Cross provides support to migrants on the border with Macedonia

They volunteer part-time

Our volunteers are teachers, parents, students, nurses, bankers, construction workers, artists—you name it! They each find time in their personal lives to commit to volunteering, with National Societies offering a variety of roles to suit all skills and schedules.

Volunteers from the Bahamas Red Cross receive training in how to provide psychosocial support from an IFRC delegate

They receive training and support

All our volunteers receive introductory training to help them understand our network and their specific roles. Throughout their membership they also have access to lots of additional training resources and support from peers, National Society staff and the IFRC.

Watch: 2020, a year like no other for our volunteers

Volunteer development

Italian Red Cross volunteers gather in Solferino, Italy for a training workshop on how to manage migrant reception centres

Italian Red Cross volunteers gather in Solferino, Italy for a training workshop on how to manage migrant reception centres

Photo: Italian Red Cross/Adriano Valentini

Our 14 million volunteers make the IFRC a unique humanitarian force in the world. We are committed to supporting them. And we are committed to providing the tools and resources they need to flourish and best support their communities.

If you are from a National Society, you can access our volunteering resources on Fednet.