Volunteering is a two-way street that provides benefits to both the organization and the volunteer. It is an instrumental force in promoting positive and sustainable growth within communities, while increasing social connections, improving mental and physical health and improving employability for volunteers.
Do you want to experience the benefits of volunteering, but you’re not sure where to start? There are millions of ways you can engage in volunteer work to help others. Taking your neighbour's dog for a walk, serving lunch at the school canteen, or even volunteering at the Olympics is all important volunteering work that helps the community.
But in order for you, and the organisation, to reap the greatest benefits, it’s important to find volunteering work that suits your skills and interests.
So we’ve pulled together a list of the main types of volunteer work and the projects they cover.
The five different types of volunteer work fall into these major categories:
- Sports and leisure
Within each of these categories, you can find a wide range of volunteer projects and organizations that you can get involved with. While many volunteer opportunities are in-person, COVID-19 has led to an increase in virtual volunteering. As the name suggests, virtual volunteering is volunteering for a non-profit, event or cause using technology to complete a task remotely. Many organisations use volunteer management software to engage, onboard, train and reward their virtual volunteers, so you will always be treated like a valued member of the team.
And in case you were wondering, what is the most common form of volunteering? Well, it’s something that every single charity and non-profit organisation needs: fundraising! So even if you don’t have the time to commit to volunteering now, fundraising is a simple and important way to still get involved.
So let’s take a closer look at 12 different types of volunteering work, and hopefully you find something that piques your interest!
Environmental Volunteer Work
Volunteering in environmental conservation will appeal to people wanting to combine their love of nature and the outdoors with a meaningful activity. Tasks such as reforestation, cleaning up beaches, nature trail construction and invasive species management are just some volunteer work examples.
These volunteer roles are often very hands-on and physically demanding, as you spend long days (or weeks) on your feet and out in the elements. In return, you'll gain experience both working independently and as part of a team, while learning about conservation, endangered species management and animal protection, as well as getting to explore the great outdoors.
2. Farm work
Volunteering on a farm is a great way to get back with nature and learn important life skills. Farms are always looking for reliable and fit volunteers to help with tasks such as animal care, feeding, fence building and repairs, harvest and pick and packing.
One of the biggest volunteer farming communities is WWOOF. After registering, volunteers are matched with farms around the globe in need of workers. You can learn about agriculture, permaculture and sustainability, while experiencing a new culture and meeting new people in return for free accommodation and board.
3. Climate change
With the effects of climate change taking its toll on the planet- melting glaciers, extreme weather and entire ecosystems put at risk - there’s never been a more important time to get involved.
You can make a difference and do your part by joining a climate change volunteer project. This may be volunteering with environmental groups, to forming a local political group to help to create genuine political change.
Citizen science—the premise that any amateur can contribute to the growing collective mass of scientific information—is becoming more and more popular. It's important climate change volunteering work that can be done individually and flexibly, allowing you to volunteer around your own schedule and as time permits.
- Sign up as a volunteer at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
Animal Volunteer Work
4. Animal rescue and care
Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers to help clean cages, feed animals, walk dogs, play with cats and conduct behavioural training. Less hands-on tasks such as fundraising, events, social media, accounting, and IT are all examples of volunteer work that could also be done virtually.
Animal lovers may also want to look into animal adoption, fostering, or training guide dogs which involves caring for animals in your own home.
Another important volunteer role involves rescuing and caring for injured animals such as birds, possums, lizards and turtles. These positions normally require you to have a car so you can pick up injured animals and transport them to a vet or experienced carer for assessment.
5. Wildlife conservation
As development continues to spread, it’s important to protect native animals and their natural habitats. Getting involved with wildlife conservation projects could see you counting penguins on Phillip Island, protecting turtle eggs from predators in Costa Rica, or supporting community efforts to rehabilitate elephants in Asia.
More locally, most communities have nature volunteer groups who observe, study and conserve local wildlife through surveying, educating, tree planting, cleaning and weeding.
Social Volunteer Work
There are boundless opportunities to become a volunteer teacher, both at home and abroad. With English as the lingua franca, there is always a huge demand for volunteer English teachers worldwide.
Volunteer teachers are responsible for taking classes, preparing lesson plans, assigning tasks to students, administering tests, grading student work and making learning English fun and engaging for both adults and children.
Volunteer teaching work can also be done online, and it may take the form of tutoring local children, holding conversations with English learners or teaching school children in developing countries.
7. Working with children and youth
Volunteering with children is extremely rewarding and can help you gain experience for future careers in charity, education and social work.
Volunteering with youth clubs, schools, scouts or summer camps are popular types of volunteering work for high school students who are active and outgoing. There are also a number of charities that support families with high needs children by offering play sessions, health services and emotional support. Other important volunteer groups that support children and youth include Kids Help Line, Starlight Children's Foundation and Baby Give Back.
- Read out more about volunteering with Baby Give Back, a charity that ensures that all babies and children have an equal start in life by providing everything from clothing and nappies to cots, prams and car seats to families in need.
8. Community development
Community development is generally defined as social groups of people working together towards a common goal to build a stronger community.
As a community development volunteer, you'll usually join a charity and give your time to disadvantaged communities to help distribute food, shelter and clothing and provide education. As you can imagine, this type of volunteering is one of the most challenging and diverse, while also being extremely rewarding.
This type of volunteering work also takes place in your local area: consider providing food for homeless people, welcoming migrants and refugees, supporting victims of domestic violence, as well as natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and drought.
- Learn more about how Oxfam UK manages their team of over 20,000 volunteers.
Healthcare Volunteer Work
9. Volunteering work with the elderly
With an ageing population and many elderly people cut off from their communities, volunteering is a great way to improve the lives of older generations.
From volunteering at a nursing home to delivering Meals on Wheels, helping an elderly shopper at the grocery store, or simply calling and checking in each morning, the opportunities are endless.
While you will be providing vital social contact, you will get the benefit of wisdom from the people who have experienced all that life has to offer.
For those looking to pursue a career in counselling, volunteering while studying is a great way to put your studies into practice and gain real-world experience and contacts. Working on a voluntary basis will provide you with vital skills which will be invaluable for your career path in this rapidly expanding field.
At the same time, many voluntary organisations conduct their own in-depth training programs that will increase your level of understanding and will help you develop your natural qualities and attitudes.
Common volunteer work for people with counselling training may be offering compassionate support to crime victims, people struggling with mental health issues, grief counselling, domestic and family issues or during criminal justice proceedings.
- Learn more about how volunteers support Daffodil Day, a fundraising event by Cancer Council Victoria, that raises vital funds for cancer research, patient support, cancer prevention and advocacy.
Sports and leisure volunteer work
11. Sporting events
Major sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games, London Marathon, Spartan and Super Bowl all rely on volunteers to help them deliver incredible experiences. Volunteers are often the ‘magic makers’ that create a positive environment that drives participants, guests and volunteers to return year after year.
This sort of volunteering work would appeal to the types of volunteers who want to get a behind-the-scenes look at how large scale events run. Sporting event volunteering is a popular type of volunteer work for high school students or university students committed to ensuring participants and spectators have a memorable time.
A massive advantage of volunteering is that the skills you gain can go straight on your CV, and the social connections you make could be the foot in the door that helps you with future employment at major sports and events companies.
- Sign up to volunteer at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games through Rosterfy’s volunteer management platform.
12. Local clubs
Most grassroots sports clubs are run entirely by passionate and dedicated volunteers. They are always on the look for friendly adults who can help coach children on the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, motivation and health and fitness.
Other types of volunteering work include joining the board as a treasurer or secretary, helping to organise social events, refereeing, managing the equipment or player registrations.
Volunteering made easy with Rosterfy
There are thousands of different types of volunteering work and opportunities out there, whether you want to get involved with animals, children or sporting events.
If you’re ready to get started, read about the best places to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
With so many roles, experience levels, locations and events, implementing a volunteer management system is essential to ensure both the volunteer and the organisation get the most out of the experience.
Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they're passionate about through our end-to-end volunteer management solution.