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The Civic Circle: conceptualizing a new era of volunteering​

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The Civic Circle: conceptualizing a new era of volunteering

At Volies, we have been committed for years to the “Civic Circle” methodology developed by Points of Light, the world’s leading network for the promotion of volunteering, which mobilizes more than 1.5 million people each year in solidarity and volunteer actions.

It is worth taking a look back to understand where this way of seeing the company and the commitment of the worker as an active agent in society originated.

It was in the early 2000s when corporate social responsibility policies began to take social concerns into account.

At first it was the large multinationals, driven by Anglo-Saxon trends, and since then their growth has been exponential.

Initiatives such as the Voluntare network, which we have been coordinating since its foundation at Volies, have contributed to this growth, dedicated to studying, disseminating and professionalizing this new area of social and business impact.

More than twenty years later, the frontiers of volunteering defined as:

"The set of activities of general interest carried out freely and in solidarity by natural persons, without economic or material consideration, through certain entities in accordance with specific programs."

are already outdated, this being a form of social action – I would say one of the most important – consolidated, but not the only one.

Youth volunteering: new forms of social participation for the Z generation

A Points of Light study on the social participation of Generation Z (adults born after 1996) supports the above observation by revealing that:

While 90% say they are socially active and 62% say they help others in different ways, only 24% volunteer through an NGO.

These data raise questions such as: what are these new forms of social participation and how can we support and encourage them to achieve social change?

To conceptualize these different channels of citizen action, Points of Light has developed the Civic Circle.

This is an inclusive, people-centered framework for social participation that encompasses different areas, as can be seen in the following graphic, where volunteering is an important part of it, but not the only one, within a broader and more complete universe.

Civil circle marca registrada

Social Experience Voluntare

Based on this work, and in order to adapt it to the associative and corporate context and facilitate the design of comprehensive strategies, Voluntare proposed the Voluntare Social Experience, which Volies uses as a reference framework in its projects.

Three areas of action have been identified that respond to different concerns and forms of social involvement:

Tomar conciencia, decidir con responsabilidad y actuar con impacto


The organization makes informational materials available to individuals.
Conducts training sessions and workshops.
It shares news that help to broaden their social vision, to modify their perception, to discover new social causes.
Generating awareness is in itself a category, but also the basis for understanding and carrying out the other actions.


Active citizenship is supported to choose which products to consume, which habits to maintain, how to be sustainable at work and in the personal sphere, etc.
The role of the company in this context is to facilitate the implementation of these sustainable habits, proposing tools and sharing information.
For their part, employees and other stakeholders apply it on a personal level by becoming active and responsible citizens.


The entity supports, encourages and organizes activities to get people to take action.
Examples include making financial or in-kind donations, participating in different volunteer activities, collaborating with NGOs or leading social initiatives and projects.
It is the most committed category that, together with the previous ones, achieves its maximum impact.

Add to this corporate volunteering, new trends in citizen activation and the opportunity to continue innovating in this area, and the social impact promoted by organizations increases.

Gráfico que indica el paso de un cambio individual a uno colectivo y a uno sistémico

Towards systemic change

While the Civic Circle is a “system for changing systems,” there can be no systems change without individual and collective change first. The framework must be provided so that an individual can choose to begin this journey.

The Voluntare Social Experience takes its baton and structures the actions that companies and organizations can promote to boost and reinforce the social and environmental commitment of the people within them.

It accelerates and multiplies the transition between individual, collective and systemic change, contributing to the achievement of the new collaborative paradigm driven by the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Go

Change begins with the individual, who is becoming more and more socially active in a more transversal way, using the different tools at his or her disposal.

It is very important that companies and organizations soon integrate these new channels to create increasingly systemic and coordinated social impact programs, exponentially increasing their reach.

Now we have a map to follow this path, shall we follow it?

Carmen Marti

Carmen Marti