UN Volunteers Innovation Challenge Fund
  • Bonn

Applications are open for the United Nations Innovation Challenge Fund 2020.

Meeting the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda requires the efforts of all of society. Everywhere, every day, ordinary people are acting on the issues that they care about. Over one billion active volunteers are carrying out a wide range of roles, from providing care and support to neighbors, extending basic services to under-served areas, campaigning for policy change, or building new relationships across polarized communities.

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Although significant in size and scope, it is difficult to get a comprehensive picture of the contributions that these volunteers are making to our societies. Research shows that volunteers can make indirect and direct contributions, both through the specific tasks or activities that they complete, but also indirectly through improved health and well-being, increasing skills and confidence, and strengthening trust, cooperation and innovation in communities.  But to date, there has been limited investment in building from this research to analyze the benefits of volunteering and to integrate this into policy priorities at the national or sub-national level. Stronger evidence and models could help nurture volunteering and its positive contributions both for individuals and for societies.

This Open Innovation Challenge, therefore, seeks ideas of how to apply existing data and research on volunteering to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, to help better understand:

  • Analytical approaches: What are some potential qualitative and quantitative analytical frameworks or models that could help understand the contributions of volunteers at the community, district, municipal or national level to the Sustainable Development Goals?
  • Alternative data sources: What are some freely available data sources that can be combined to provide insights or analysis on volunteerism and how would this be done?
  • Measures: Which supplementary indicators or targets could better integrate an understanding of citizen contributions under specific SDG goals, targets or indicators?
  • Models of development: Can analytical models incorporating volunteering tell us more about the nature and quality of human development?

Under this competition (Stage I), UNV expects to form partnerships with 6-8 applicants to create and develop possible approaches to the above questions.  Selected innovators will produce a 5,000-word paper including diagrams and infographics and will participate in Innovation Challenge activities as part of a community of practice. The papers will be published as part of an anthology for the Global Technical Meeting on Volunteering 2020 and will also inform a toolkit being developed on the measurement of volunteer work by UNV.

So what are you waiting for? Apply now!




  • Selected participants will get to join a dynamic community of practice to share ideas and provide challenge through the study development process.
  • All selected innovators will have their work published by UNV, including on the global Knowledge Hub on Volunteerism.
  • Based on the final submissions by the innovators, two contributors will be awarded a further USD 15,000 to pilot their idea in relation to one context (country/community) by the end of 2020.
  • Based on progress by May 2020, one innovator may be selected to participate in the Global Technical Meeting on Volunteering in July 2020 at the High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs in New York (maximum 2 representatives).


  • The eligible applicants include any individual or organization (public or private) that can demonstrate relevant expertise in volunteerism research and measurement or a related field (governance, social development).
  • Collaboration/partnerships under one proposal are possible, however UNV will only be able to issue one agreement with one individual and/or responsible legal entity per proposal and additional internal arrangements must be made by innovators.
  • Organizations or institutions must identify the lead person who will be involved in the development of the paper in their proposal.
Eligible Regions: Open For All

Application Process

  • Each applicant (individual or institution) is required to submit a proposal to UNV Procurement for up to a maximum of USD 10,000 to prepare and deliver a 5,000-word paper addressing one or more of the objectives of the challenge fund.
  • General rules:
    • Each entity may submit one application
    • Re-submission of modified and improved applications are not allowed.
    • The deadline for application is to be strictly respected.
    • In the evaluation process, only complete applications including financial proposal will be accepted.
    • All submitted documents must be in the English language.
    • UNV shall examine the proposal to confirm that all terms and conditions under the UNDP General Terms and Conditions and Special Conditions have been accepted by the Proposer without any deviation or reservation.

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Application Deadline: January 6, 2020

Application ClosedOfficial link

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For further inquiries, please visit the official link.
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