Dubai: The generosity of UAE residents overflowed in 2017 during the Year of Giving with almost three million volunteering hours rendered and a total of Dh1.6 billion donated for humanitarian initiatives by the private sector, it was announced on Wednesday.
Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future who is also the chairman of the Higher National Committee for the Year of Giving, on Wednesday confirmed that the Year of Giving concluded with a whopping 2.8 million volunteer hours logged and 270,000 volunteers registered.
“During the Year of Giving, we dedicated ourselves to spreading the spirit of giving in various fields, as one team, under the guidance of our wise leadership. We sought to achieve our goals, as established by the Higher National Committee for the Year of Giving, and to dedicate our work to the memory of the UAE’s martyrs and heroes,” Al Gergawi said.
“As the year ends, we will continue spreading the spirit of giving long after because it is an important part of our identity and culture.”
To put this volunteering hours in perspective, 2.8 million hours is equivalent to 116,666 days or 319.6 years straight of giving back to the community by the volunteers all in just one year. This gives an average of 10.3 volunteering hours per volunteer.
This comes as no surprise as the Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index listed the UAE in September 2017 as ninth most generous country in the world, coming from 10th place in 2016. Among the categories measured is volunteering time done by respondents in the past month.
Apart from the success in volunteering, five legislations, two national strategies and ten sustainable initiatives were also launched in the areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and volunteerism in 2017.
The initiatives in the areas of CSR encouraged more companies to contribute to society through their CSR programmes. It also obligated companies to report any voluntary contributions by large corporations.
Al Gergawi stressed that the Year of Giving for the first time laid the foundation for institutionalising charitable work in the UAE. The country also adopted five legislations to establish a sustainable and legislative framework for charities and volunteering.
The legislations include the Federal Law on Volunteer Work, the Federal Law on Waqf (Arabic for Endowment), along with legislations regarding corporate social responsibilities, establishing a Coordinating Council for Humanitarian Institutions, and community service responsibilities.
Al Gergawi also discussed the importance of all of the new strategies in strengthening the country’s pioneering role in humanitarian work. He highlighted the importance of the National Strategy for Volunteering 2021 in developing an integrated framework for volunteering in the UAE, involving all social segments in this important work that benefits the community.
He also highlighted the Development Plan for Humanitarian and Charitable Institutions, which aims to enhance the work of humanitarian institutions at the local, regional and global levels by investing in staff skills development.
10 sustainable initiatives
To keep the spirit of generosity alive even beyond the Year of Giving, 10 sustainable initiatives in the areas of CSR, volunteerism and enhancing the growth of humanitarian institutions and the development sector were adopted.
In the CSR field, the CSR Smart Platform was launched, which is a comprehensive electronic platform that provides companies in the private sector opportunities to participate in development and community projects.
An index for the National Social Responsibility was also introduced in order to provide a classification system and recognition of companies and private sector institutions based on their humanitarian and charitable contributions.
In the sphere of volunteering, the Specialised Volunteering Programme was introduced to give various incentives for skills-based volunteers. Government employees were also encouraged to participate through a programme dedicated to them. Lastly, the Opportunities in Government was issued to provide a list of volunteering opportunities for all segments of society.
The Smart Platform for Developmental and Charity Work was also launched along with the Giving Card initiative to inspire people to donate to charitable causes.
Year of Giving in numbers
2.8 volunteering hours (cumulative) equivalent to 116,666 days
270,000 registered volunteers
Average of 10.3 volunteering hours per volunteer
Dh1.6 billion contribution from the private sector