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The table below was adapted from a Red Cross resource in describing the different volunteering forms and categories with a brief description for each. The definitions and terms vary in the literature and the list is not exhaustive, but does provide a more complete picture of the various forms of volunteering.

For assistance regarding how to engage volunteers from any one of these categories, please contact your Divisional Volunteer Resource Coordinator

Formal volunteering programs tend to be organised with defined supervision structures. Volunteers are in designated positions and integrated within a workforce planning and development approach. There may be a strong emphasis on policies and procedures and quality management of the services being delivered. Formal volunteering programs tend to have a business management structure, with volunteer coordinators or managers of volunteers working, resourcing, supervising and monitoring outcomes.

Mandated volunteering may be legislatively required, court-ordered, or selected as part of a course requirement ("service learning"). The person may not be choosing voluntary service so much as fulfilling a requirement for the betterment of community or self.

Corporate or employer-supported volunteering encourages employees to donate their time to community causes. It can be performed on employer time or supported and encouraged through other means.

Professional work which is undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee for service. Pro bono service is common in the legal and accounting professions and is increasingly seen in medicine, technology, and consulting firms. Like Corporate volunteering, pro bono service typically uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them or to meet Corporate Social Responsibility goals.

Family volunteering involves more than one person in a household or extended family. It includes different generations in a family unit volunteering together. Family is defined as any two or more people who consider themselves to be a family. Examples of volunteer activities that family members can participate in together include: serving food at a cultural festival, donating warm clothes during winter, interacting with socially isolated people, or working on a community garden.

Community, church or friendship groups want to be able to support an organisation and / or an event or activity. Generally, the support is a one off activity, i.e. Red Shield Appeal but could be engaged when nurture on a more regular or annual basis

Specific time and motivation for individuals, couples and families to volunteer just prior to or on Christmas Day. This can be a great way to engage people in your local community to strengthen ties with the hope of future engagement

Episodic volunteering refers to short term assignments, activities or events defined in hours or days. The activities have clearly defined start and end times and rules, and often produces a product or tangible output so that success is recognised. Episodic volunteering does not require an ongoing, long term commitment and is sometimes a one off endeavour. Episodic volunteering may refer to short term time availability (4 hours), frequency of activity (twice per year) or a time of year, e.g. school holiday period. Episodic volunteering can also be called project, short tern or event volunteering.

Governance volunteers serve as board members or on management or advisory committees. They provide leadership and direction for the organisation in roles with high levels of responsibility and accountability. Governance volunteers may also volunteer in other areas of the organisation

Volunteer roles are short term and usually defined in week/s. The projects or roles have clearly defined start and end times and assignments, and often produce a product or tangible output so that success is recognised. Project / short term volunteering does not require an ongoing commitment

Specialised volunteering leverages specialised skills to build and sustain organisational capacity. Skill based volunteering can refer to a multitude of assets (knowledge, skills and experience) required to fulfil a volunteer role including language skills, cultural knowledge and competency, professional skills and / or academic qualifications

Consultant volunteers may work in a professional capacity, be retired or semi-retired. They seek to use their professional skills in the service of an organisation or cause. Their time commitment is negotiated and may vary from short term consultancies or longer term ongoing volunteering

Virtual volunteering tasks or activities are completed off-site from the organisation using internet computing. Examples include tele-mentoring / tutoring, research, analysis, editing, desktop publishing, etc

Entrepreneurial volunteers (individuals) approach organisations to negotiate their own self-defined projects and roles. These volunteers are difficult to anticipate and challenging to manage, they also present an opportunity to engage volunteers who might not be interested in existing or formal roles.

Spontaneous volunteers are those who seek to contribute on impulse, e.g. people who offer assistance following a disaster and who are not previously affiliated with recognised volunteer agenceis and may or may not have relevant training, skills or experience (Drabek, 2012)

Client volunteering involves a focused client engagement program for the purpose of developing life and work ready skills of clients

Informal volunteering, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is voluntary acts of helping, assisting and kindness to friends, family and neighbours outside of a formal, organisational context

An international volunteer is a person who volunteers to donate their time and skills to community organsiations around the world. There are various organisations and individuals involved in and supporting international volunteering including government, faith based organisations, corporationis, foundations and / or self-funded individuals 

Non-formal volunteering generally occurs in local communities to address specific needs by sharing experiences or mutual aid and "helping out". Volunteers are usually community members who come together around a shared interest. Volunteering roles may be unstructured or undefined and may be undertaken by whoever has the time and interest. There is unlikely to be formalised roles such as volunteer manager or coordinator. People are likely to consider temselves as community members or friends rather than volunteers. (Einolf, 2011)

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