Typically, volunteers do not operate in a vacuum and are an accompanying force, working with many partners, be it civil-society organizations, local authorities or municipalities. As pointed out H.E. Mr. Adama Samassekou, "volunteers act in the spirit of a mission, which favors accompanying rather than intervention. A consultant is called on to intervene; the volunteer makes his competences and his know-how available. He shares them with others. By doing so, he commits himself to the environment in which he is operating and serves as a catalyst. The volunteer needs therefore to listen to people and in this way brings a community approach. He comes indeed to learn in order to serve better."
While volunteerism largely happens in the informal and non-profit sector, multi-actor partnerships can strengthen and enhance it. One such form is employee volunteering, building partnerships between the volunteer sector and the private sector. "Employee volunteering" or "employee engagement" may be described as the giving of employees' time and skills to the benefit of the communities in which they operate. This is done through a three-way partnership between the employer, employee and the beneficiaries of the volunteer effort. Forms of corporate volunteering can increase the chances for youth on the labor market, as employees or even as entrepreneurs, setting up, for example, local cybercaf√©s. Private, public and voluntary-sector organizations constitute an enormous reserve of resources, skills and expertise, which can be called on to support local schools, communities and organizations. Businesses that support employee volunteering, on the other hand, benefit from a much-improved public image, and better-skilled and motivated employees.
New forms of volunteering have emerged through the availability and use of ICTs. One such application is Online Volunteering (also referred to as e-volunteering), a new way to collaborate through the Internet, with a different continent or in one's own city. In this way, volunteers translate documents, create Internet sites for non-profit organizations, and advise local communities through online fora and chat facilities on technical issues related to ICTs, regardless of the distance between partners, often combining onsite and online collaboration. Here again, multi-stakeholder partnerships are frequently developed and applied, involving people who are commonly excluded from the workforce, such as homebound individuals and people with disabilities.
As one of the main outcomes of the work achieved by the WSIS Volunteer Family, the Volunteer Action Plan presented in plenary in December 2003 is built on a multi-actor approach and designed to: (1) strengthen the contributions of volunteering to transform the information society into a society of shared knowledge accessible to all, and (2) improve the way in which volunteers and volunteer organizations make use of these technologies. This in itself uses a multi-stakeholder approach to move forward, for example in the framework of programs and organizations such as Geekcorps (www.geekcorps.org), Netcorps (Cyberjeunes) (www.netcorps-cyberjeunes.org) or the CyberVolunteers partnership-based Program (www.cybervolunteers.info).