The Forms and Structure of International Voluntary Service

  • Margaret Sherrard SherradenEmail author
  • John Stringham
  • Simona Costanzo Sow
  • Amanda Moore McBride
Original Paper


International voluntary service (IVS) has a significant and growing presence worldwide. IVS is a policy and program tool used for international development aid, humanitarian relief, and promotion of international understanding. In the last century, forms of IVS have proliferated, while research on scope, effectiveness, and impacts has lagged behind. We propose a typology that addresses duration, nature of service, and degree of “internationality.” Further, we identify IVS networks and support organizations that bolster the capacity of IVS sending and hosting organizations, and in this process create large and little recognized international institutions of cooperation. Building on the typology, we suggest program, policy, and research implications to advance knowledge of the role of IVS, its role in global civil society, and impacts it may have on human conditions and cross-cultural understanding.


Volunteering International voluntary service Global civil society International networks 



The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Ford Foundation for research support. We also appreciate the helpful comments and suggestions from Michael Sherraden, Salvatore Romagna, and Frank Zeiler, and anonymous reviewers of Voluntas. Our gratitude also to Matthew Pearce, Mario Fernandez, Carlos Benitez, John Amastae, and others for their contributions to our thinking, and especially to John Wirth for his vision of a North American Community Service.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Sherrard Sherraden
    • 1
    Email author
  • John Stringham
    • 2
  • Simona Costanzo Sow
    • 3
  • Amanda Moore McBride
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for International StudiesUniversity of Missouri in St. Louis, One University BoulevardSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Ecumenical Diaconal Year NetworkHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary ServiceParisFrance
  4. 4.Center for Social DevelopmentWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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