18 July is Mandela Day, an internationally recognised day of volunteering when people are called to take action against poverty and social injustice by helping and giving time in service to their communities. This article discusses the nature of episodic volunteering at Mandela Day events throughout South Africa in 2018. Drawing on quantitative survey evidence from 398 participants, the findings show that this informal day of service has created a unique opportunity for recruiting new volunteers and for promoting one-off, short-term volunteering. In addition to non-profits and faith-based groups that traditionally mobilise volunteers, we show that ‘third-party’ entities – such as universities, businesses, government offices and philanthropic foundations – are also critical in rallying people and facilitating one-off volunteering opportunities for this day. These findings broaden an understanding of the range of international episodic volunteering and help to illustrate the connection between volunteering and civic capacity in newer democracies.
Connections between religion and volunteering have been widely documented. Religion is a key motivating factor for volunteering in religious settings and elsewhere. Episodic volunteering is one of the fastest-growing forms of volunteering, but literature on episodic volunteering and religion is scarce. In this article, we analyse connections between religion and religiosity, and episodic volunteering. First, we identify types of episodic volunteers at religious events. Second, we use a set of three independent variables (declared religious denomination, importance of religion and spiritual motivation) to understand episodic volunteering participation. Third, we examine whether those who volunteer both episodically and regularly are more religious. Finally, we identify differences across religious affiliations. Using data from a cross-national survey, we apply different data segments in each area of our study. Our findings suggest that episodic volunteers are influenced by religion and religiosity, with especially strong connections among Protestants. We conclude with suggestions for future research.