Building a brand for global volunteerism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— Promoting a volunteer organization that contributes to peace and development is an easy sell, says Jennifer Stapper. Promoting it at the global level for the United Nations can present a number of unexpected challenges.

Stapper leads communications for the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, a U.N. organization that contributes to the aspirations of the United Nations through a wide-spread organized group of qualified and motivated volunteers. She will speak at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the HUB Auditorium. The lecture is a part of the Professional-in-Residence program, a series run by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Communication.

In her talk, "Tapping the potential of the U.N. brand for a better world,” Stapper will discuss her role in spreading UNVs message and good work, which reaches more than 125 countries and includes around 6,500 U.N. volunteers in the field, and another 11,000 as online volunteers. Stapper works in Bonn, Germany where she promotes the organizations sustainable work and peacemaking efforts. Keeping a focused mission among hundreds of diverse cultures is a challenge in itself, working with equally complicated hardships like wars, refugee crises, economic difficulties and famine creates unique communications´ obstacles for Stapper and her team.

With partners all over the world, UNV mobilizes qualified volunteers into diverse United Nations programming. Many volunteers are stationed in sub-Saharan Africa, but thousands are located in other locations of need. For example, UNV is heavily involved in areas bordering Syria assisting registered refugees. Volunteers there organize schools for children, centers for women and resources for communities.

Volunteer work at this level is especially challenging. Volunteers often share the same living standards as the citizens of the remote towns and villages they work in. This can mean no electricity or running water. Many assignments do not allow volunteers to bring their families due to security issues. Stapper will discuss her role in telling the volunteer story and raising awareness of the importance of volunteers to U.N. goals.

Before joining the U.N., Stapper headed strategic communications and stakeholder relations at Fairtrade International. She also worked for a variety of non-governmental organizations in Brussels, Belgium and Washington D.C. in fundraising and public relations. Jennifer has a masters degree in international relations from the University of Geneva, and a bachelor of arts from the University of Virginia in social and political thought. 

The lecture is a part of the Arthur W. Page Centers Professional-in-Residence program, a series that invites top communicators to University Park to speak. In addition to the lecture, the selected professionals spend several days on campus visiting communications classes, meeting with faculty and networking with others.

The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication is a research center at the Penn State College of Communications dedicated to the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication and other forms of public communication.

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Last Updated January 14, 2016