The author of the article stresses that at the present stage of the development of our country and other developed countries volunteer movement plays an important role and is increasing rapidly.Declaration of Independence of Ukraine has contributed to the transformation in all spheres of Ukrainian society, which gave a new impetus to research of the existence of actual realities of society. The decline or partial transformation of old and new forms of social relations, including, in particular, volunteering was caused by changing of the social order, reorientation of the principles of market economy, socio-political and economic instability. The author notes that the end of the twentieth century was marked by the fact that volunteering in the social development was officially recognized by the international community. For the last decade the topic of volunteering has been repeatedly discussed at the meetings of the UN General Assembly. Different approaches to the notion of «volunteer» are presented by the author. According to the domestic sociologist Ivan Yurchenko, volunteering is a socially useful activity free of charge, which is a leader of spiritual, moral, ethical, cultural, social, political and economic values and can take any form of traditional institutions for mutual assistance to mobilized socially useful work during crises or natural disasters, from manifestations of altruism to the structured organization of volunteerism at the international scale. The article is devotedtothe historical development of international volunteer movement. The author determines the stages of international volunteer movement: 1) the 1750–1913 years (formation) – the involvement of the middle and upper classes of Western society in social work to the fight against poverty, 2) the 1914–1971 years (institutionalization) –the expansion of government structures fully provided social services, the implementation of the first large-scale volunteer projects, 3) the 1972–1991 years (integration) –the beginning of the system infrastructure that supports volunteering, 4) 1991 –present (globalization) – volunteerism as a very important element of democracy, whereby citizens take responsibility for the public. Thus, international volunteer movement has passed its own long historical development and is a powerful tool to address various social issues. The main areas of activity are: the struggle for the liberation of the slaves, for getting women equal rights with men; environmental protection, the rights of the buyers; promotion of the policy of nonviolence, international understanding.