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Canada's volunteers

Canada's volunteers

About Volunteering

Volunteers are people from all walks of life, all ages and stages. What they have in common is the desire to make a difference in their community – and in their own life – by giving of their time and expertise.

Explore this site and discover how you can become part of a movement that is almost 12 million volunteers strong! Learn how you can make a difference in the lives of others.

Volunteers are involved in virtually every aspect of society including health, education, social services, youth, sports and recreation, culture, the arts and the environment. Some volunteers give just one hour of time each week; others devote many hours. Volunteers are involved in one-time events as well as ongoing commitments. Some choose to volunteer out in the community whereas others are virtual volunteers and do their volunteering from the comfort of home. Volunteers can work on their own or with others, do hands-on work or volunteer at an administrative or leadership level.

Some volunteers have the support of their employers and are permitted to modify their work hours in order to take part in volunteer activity.

Some people volunteer with members of their family. When time is short and the demands are many, family volunteering offers a wonderful opportunity for family members to be together while contributing to their community or to a cause they hold dear.

Some volunteers do so because they are new Canadians and volunteering offers them the chance to gain Canadian work experience, to practice language skills and to integrate into a new community.

Youth volunteers have many reasons for why they volunteer: to discover their talents, to explore career options, to act on their social awareness, to gain self-confidence, to build a sense of independence or to complete high school curriculum requirements.

Older adult volunteers know that experience matters and volunteering provides opportunities to use valuable skills, to give back to their communities, to mentor others and to create and maintain relationships.

Supporting the work of volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations is Volunteer Canada, the national voice for volunteerism. Volunteer Canada has provided leadership on issues and trends in the Canadian volunteer movement since 1977 through research, training and other national initiatives designed to increase community participation. One of these initiatives is the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement that outlines the values, guiding principles and organization standards for volunteer involvement.

Volunteers play a vital role in Canadian society. Across Canada, volunteers are engaged in delivering services and programs that improve and enhance the life of our communities. Volunteers are people just like you.


Where to Start

Volunteering allows us to participate in nurturing our environment. It brings people together—in hospital corridors, in schools, on playing fields and in board rooms—for good reasons and common purposes. It develops within us an understanding of people who are different - people with disabilities, people in financial distress, children or the elderly. It allows us to give of ourselves, share our wealth, and express our human values of community and caring while finding solutions to shared challenges. Volunteering helps us build better, stronger, healthier communities. To get involved, visit your nearest Volunteer Centre. The staff there will help you connect with opportunities in your community that best suit your interests, skill sets and availability.


Volunteer Centres in Canada

What is a Volunteer Centre?

Volunteer Centres are non-profit organizations or groups dedicated to fostering and developing volunteerism in the community as a whole. While other organizations contribute to sustaining our national heritage of volunteering through their programs and outreach, Volunteer Centres serve the broadest membership: including volunteers and organizations/volunteer-involving organizations. Volunteer Centres reach across the non-profit and public sectors to include organizations working in human and social services, health care, education, the arts and recreation - regardless of their source of funding.

Does my community have a Volunteer Centre?

Visit our directory to connect with the Volunteer Centre nearest you.

What if my community does not have a Volunteer Centre?

Volunteer Centres reflect the needs of the community they serve.  Volunteer Centres exist primarily to foster and develop volunteerism in the community as a whole.  They engage in four general kinds of services and activities:

  • promoting volunteerism and raising awareness of the power of service
  • building capacity for effective local volunteering through management consulting on volunteer programs and training of volunteers and managers of volunteer resources
  • providing leadership and advocacy on issues relating to volunteerism and volunteer programs
  • connecting people with opportunities to serve through recruitment and referral of volunteers to community agencies

If you are interested in creating a Volunteer Centre in your community, please contact us for more information at [email protected].

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