Promoting Volunteerism in Nepal : Why we need a National Volunteering Agency ( Part I)

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Any effort to strengthen the volunteering sector in the country should fully acknowledge local forms and expressions of volunteering. These forms of local self help are essential in helping defining what volunteerism is in a country like Nepal. Reinforcing volunteerism in Nepal, taking into account the latest forms and trends, should not come at the expenses of old and ancient traditions.

By infrastructure we refer to the system composed of a set of institutions, (public, civil society based or private, formal and informal), legislation or regulations supporting and reinforcing volunteerism.

This interplay of stakeholders supported by an appropriate regulatory framework plays a vital role in recognizing the contributions made by volunteers while at the same time it is essential in encouraging more people into volunteering.

Given the ancient traditions well rooted at the local level, Nepal should be in a position to boost a strong volunteering support system. Unfortunately the opposite is true with a relatively weak infrastructural landscape.

It is clear that the National Development Volunteers Service, (NDVS) being a program directly managed by the National Planning Commission and exclusively focused on service delivery through technical sharing of  expertise and know how provided by its volunteers, has a very limited mandate in terms of coordination, supervision and promotion of the volunteering sector in the country.

Instead what the country needs is an independent and autonomous public agency with authority and power to oversee the entire volunteering sector.

Here I am referring to the need of setting up a national volunteering agency, an institution that should not be seen in competition with other public bodies, avoiding any unnecessary duplications and clashes over roles and responsibilities with, for example, the Social Welfare Council.

While it is certain that the Social Welfare Council should be drastically reformed, the scope and responsibilities of the proposed national volunteering agency should not be of a “regulatory” nature but rather be active from the point of view of coordination and promotion of volunteering efforts throughout the country.

Therefore all NGOs, even those matching the above proposed requirements to be considered as “volunteering entities”, should continue to refer to the Social Welfare Council as they key and only public agency regulating all matters affecting the not for profit sector, including registration, renewal, reporting and auditing.

With this clear cut distinction in terms of jurisdictions, any reservations regarding the legality of the proposed national volunteering agency should be set aside, paving the way for a true “game changer” in the promotion of volunteerism in Nepal.

The main domains of actions for the national volunteering agency should be the following:

  • Enabling role
  • Promotion of volunteerism throughout Nepal
  • Coordination
  • Monitoring


The National Volunteering Agency should make it easier, simpler and attractive for Nepali citizens of all ages and groups to get involved in volunteering activities. In this sense, the agency would play a role of facilitator, assuming the functions of Volunteerism Champion within the Government, ensuring that the voice and perspectives of the sector are well represented at the highest level of policy making.

As enabler and facilitator, the national volunteering agency should be tasked with the responsibility of steering the debate on a stronger legal framework supporting volunteerism, something that will be discussed later on. As a reference we could look at the previously mentioned examples of Volunteering England and Volunteering Australia that despite being outside the state spheres (Volunteering England is now part of NCVO, the not for profit umbrella organization) are now the peak bodies for the sector in each respective countries. In the USA, the Corporation for National and Community Service is the federal agency mandated for the promotion of national volunteerism.

 It is interesting to note that for the future federal set up of Nepal, the Corporation works in close coordination with state level volunteering commissions that are public bodies managed by single states. In a future federal republic, a national volunteer agency would play a coordination role, by setting standards and ensuring alignment with the national volunteering goals while room for action would be left at the local level.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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