How much do you know about


Every day, volunteers bring an extraordinary contribution to mankind.

They are at the core of the purpose and model of our organisation, which is why we love thinking and talking about volunteering so much.

Your opinion matters. Let us know in the comment section what you think.

Which National Society has the most volunteers per capita?

An interesting way we can explore volunteer numbers and perhaps get some insight into the relevance of a National Society to its country is to consider what percentage of that country’s population participates as a volunteer in the National Society. 

Of course, this is limited as an indicator and there are many assumptions here about relevance.

For instance, you might expect countries with smaller populations to perhaps do better on this measure, or perhaps countries where there are not as many public resources available that may require more support from volunteer participation, or in some countries, there may be stronger cultures of formal volunteering or policies and legislations that enable more volunteering. Nonetheless, it does show some interesting insights, and you may well be surprised by the top ten. So who is number one?

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The answer is … Burundi!


That’s right, 4.46 percent of the population participates, that means 1 out of every 22 people living in Burundi is a Red Cross Volunteer. Put another way, on any given day in Burundi if you were to watch a football game there, it’s likely that statistically, at least 1 of the players would be a Red Cross volunteer! Here is the complete Top Ten list of National Society volunteers per capita, do any surprise you?

How does it look regionally?

Can you guess in which region we have the highest number of volunteers per capita of the population?

See below for the answers

Number of volunteers for 10,000 people


/ 10,000

Middle East and North Africa

/ 10,000


/ 10,000


/ 10,000


/ 10,000

Number of volunteers (in %)

Top 5 per regions (in %)

IFRC FDRS 2021 (as of sept. 2023) / UN WPP 2021

Were you surprised?

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Where are our Volunteers?

Did you know, the top three National Societies with the most number of volunteers are all in Asia, and together account for over half of our global volunteers (56%), even though people living in these countries represent around 37% of the world’s population? They are India (6.1 million volunteers), China (2 million volunteers) and Japan (1.1 million volunteers).

If we add Iran to the mix with over 910,000 volunteers, then just 4 National Societies carry around 62% of our total volunteers globally. The remaining 187 National Societies have around 38% of our global volunteer base.

Of all volunteers


are in Asia-Pacific

Of all volunteers


are in four countries*

If you want to see more of these kinds of stats you can visit FDRS website which has a whole range of interesting data and statistics on our global organisation.

We believe we all have to keep trying to rethink and reimagine volunteering in the future. To do this we must understand more about volunteering and try to experiment with new models and approaches and analyse our data to try and better understand how we can improve.

We love National Societies that are trying to innovate with new approaches. If you want to see videos of some examples you can visit our YouTube page @SolferinoVoices

* India, China, Japan and Iran

Watch our latest videos from the IFRC Global Innovation Summit 2023 on the Solferino Voices YouTube Channel!

Join us in shaping the future by subscribing to the Solferino Voices channel today. And to always stay tuned subscribe to our mailing list. 

A special selection on volunteering.

Checkout the full playlist here

Volunteering for all

Natia Loladze, Vice-President of the IFRC, President of the Georgia Red Cross. Afaf Ezzamouri, Italian Red Cross, Veneto Branch, Volunteer of the Padova Branch. Carla M. Orizondo M., Italian Red Cross, Head of Volunteering and Civil Services.

Volunteering and Innovation at Spanish Red Cross

Spanish Red Cross is rapidly transforming to respond more effectively at a national and international level. In this captivating studio conversation, Ana Peñalver and Ferrán Cobertera look back at their personal journeys within the Red Cross, discussing their roles and exploring how to make a greater impact across all areas of our organisations ‘connecting the dots’ from volunteering to leadership. Interviewed by Henry Caceres of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, they also talk about future of their organisation, and lay the foundation for National Societies aspiring to undertake their own journeys of transformation.

The Power of Local Volunteers in National Society Development

Enter the world of volunteer development and learn from the experience of Balthazar Bacinoni, volunteering expert at ICRC with over 20 years of experience with Burundi Red Cross, and many lessons learned along the way. In this interview conducted by Priyanka Patel, Balthazar discusses his role, but also some exciting perspectives on volunteer management including local-led action, how to approach allowances, and keep volunteers motivated.

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