06 december / 2017

Volunteer’s Year in Russia

2018 in Russia is declared the Volunteer’s Year. That was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 6, 2017 at the concert dedicated to the celebration of the first national Volunteer Day. This is an important step in recognizing the volunteer movement and the contribution of each volunteer in the country development. It is planned that by the end of the thematic year the number of citizens engaged in volunteerism will be increased. Thanks to changes made in laws and regulations, barriers between volunteers and state organizations will collapse, upward mobility for active volunteers will be created and educational methods and best practices would be developed and widely implemented.

On February 21, the organizing committee of the Volunteer Year (volunteer) held the first meeting. The meeting has been attended by representatives of federal ministries and departments, public associations, major educational organizations and commercial companies. The organizing committee was headed by Sergey Kirienko, the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation. The plan of actions for 2018 was presented at the meeting. It included more than 100 major, national and interregional programs, projects and actions.

Following the meeting the Organizing Committee outlined seven areas of focus for the Volunteer’s Year:

– Regulations improvement (in addition to the volunteer law already signed on February 5, a number of bylaws regulating different spheres of volunteer activity are being developed. For example, the State Duma introduced an amendment bill to the Tax Code, under which volunteers are exempt from taxes on income received from volunteer activities (such as compensation for travel, food or shelter at the site of the project or event);

– Volunteer support infrastructure set-up (for example, with the help of the Russian schoolchildren's movement, volunteer units will be organized in 5000 schools, though in 2017 there were only 1,350 institutions enrolled. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation aims to expand the system of volunteer centers in universities and increase their number to 350. It is also expected that the regional network resource centers for volunteer’s support would be expanded by more than 2.5 times. That also includes the development of a unified system based on the "Volunteers of Russia." Thanks to this, by the end of the year 200 000 people will be able to provide assistance and more than 30 000 organizations will find volunteers);

– Best practices’ endorsement and development is primarily represented by a grant campaign and the implementation of the national award "Volunteers of Russia". In 2017 the presidential grant fund supported more than 700 volunteer projects totaling 1.48 billion rubles. This year, more than 500 million rubles have been allocated for volunteer projects, which will be distributed by the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs;

– Educational programs implementation. This includes volunteering training courses, educational events, for example, the forum "Yamal Volunteer" and volunteer section at the forum "Community" in Astrakhan which are already being held. Additionally, regional forums will take places all over the country, and the topic of volunteerism will be added to a number of federal events such as «Territory of Meanings», «Tavrida», «Biryusa» and others;

– Popularization of volunteering. It covers informational and advertising campaigns conduction and some other special projects, for example, making a documentary film #IamaVolonter;

– International cooperation includes program for "Volunteers of the World" produced together with the UN Volunteers. There are more than 30 international actions based on the Future Team movement derived from participants initiative who attended XIX World Festival of Youth and Students held in Sochi in October 2017;

– Carrying out major events. These are regular actions and projects which this year are either expanded or changed their themes for volunteer and traditional volunteer initiatives such as «Immortal Regiment», «St. George's Ribbon», and other new formats made to attract the volunteer audience.

On March 20, the "Volunteer of Russia" award was launched. For 8 years it has been the mechanism for determining the best volunteer practices all over the country. In 2018, it will be held in an updated format, including additional nominations, for example, on the organization of a comfortable urban environment, the development of culture and the preservation of historical memory among school-volunteers. For volunteers at the age of 18 years, there were some new nominations introduced. Such nominations are for assistance in the field of health care, population protection in state of emergency and others. At the moment, the regional award phases are being held, which will last until October 1. Then the best volunteers will go through absentia and final rounds.

On June, 1-2 in the park "Sokolniki" in Moscow will be held the Great Festival of Volunteers. This major event will open the festival season in the capital and sum up the 6 months’ results of the Volunteer’s Year. The program includes themed picnics, concerts, exhibitions, meetings with the stars and leaders of volunteer organizations and charitable foundations. There will be more than 6000 people participating and this includes not only the already active volunteers, but also the capital residents.

Also, the volunteer theme will become one of the major events’ topics, for example, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will host a session on corporate volunteering and in addition thematic venues and other events will be organized during the City Day in Moscow.

The whole year results will be reviewed at the National Volunteer’s Forum in early December. There will be announced the names of "Volunteer Russia" award winners. Moreover, the film #ImVolunteer opening night is scheduled for this event and then will simultaneously be shown in the cinemas of 100 cities all over the country. The forum will host thematic sessions that would be finalizing the activities in different areas.

Volunteer’s Year in Russia contributes to the development of civil society and social activity of the population, as well as popularizes the ideas of volunteerism, mercy and cooperation.