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ARCHIVED - The Power of Volunteering: A Review of the Volunteer Cooperation Program

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In 2004, CIDA's Performance and Knowledge Management Branch (PKMB) initiated a program review of the VCP to determine the relevance and effectiveness of volunteer sending as a delivery mechanism for CIDA's development cooperation program.

The study found that CIDA support for the VCP is contributing to significant results in both developing countries and Canada. In developing countries, Developing Country Organizations (DCOs) were overwhelmingly positive in their assessment of the impact that volunteers and the VCAs have had on their organizations' motivation, capacities and performance. They report significant positive changes to their organizational culture, systems, processes, programs, visibility and reputations and also report positive impacts on their clientele that includes women, rural poor, youth and businesses. However, feedback is mixed with respect to the capacity development approaches and strategies employed by the different VCAs. The level of resources, tools and skills are evolving and require the continued attention of most VCAs.

In Canada, the VCP has had profound impacts on volunteers themselves—on their values and beliefs, as global citizens, their skill levels, the career and education decisions they have made on their return, and their involvement and support to local community or international development. The program involves Canadians from all walks of life and includes youth and professionals. Although still in its early days, the VCP support to public engagement work is having positive effects on Canadians' understanding of, and openness to, different cultures as well as their knowledge of development issues, leading to increased involvement in international development and support to the development programs of VCAs.

The review made a series of recommendations to improve the program: formal recognition of the contribution that volunteering makes to Canada's overall international development efforts; more strategic programming approaches and sharpened performance measurement frameworks for improved monitoring and reporting on results achieved; means to increase the effectiveness of the VCAs' public engagement programs.


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