5 types of volunteer work

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There are five types of volunteer work:

  1. Formal

    These are long-term programs. Volunteers come in regularly and for a specified amount of time. Managers or coordinators guide and check the work of volunteers. They have rules and policies to maintain the quality of services.

    Example positions: Tour guide, hospital volunteer, or fundraiser for large charities.
    Sample activities: Greeting visitors, giving directions, serving meals to patients, printing out and mailing letters.
    See current volunteer opportunities at the Canadian Red Cross (Emergency Responders).

  2. Governance

    Volunteers in this program help direct an organization. They plan and make decisions about operations. They usually have work experience related to the organization’s purpose.

    Example positions: Member of the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit, member of a parish administration board, treasurer for the PTA
    Sample activities: Attending regular meetings, taking minutes of the meeting, basic accounting.

  3. Interested in serving as a Board Member of a not-for-profit? Check volunteer opportunities in the settlement sector at Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO).

  4. Non-formal

    Non-formal volunteer work happens in small communities. Programs are not funded and not supervised. Volunteers see themselves more as members or friends. Non-formal is not the same as informal volunteer work. Informal volunteering is when you help a senior cross a street or babysit for a friend.

    Example positions: Guest instructor, member of a neighbourhood safety patrol or street clean-up.
    Sample activities: Teaching arts and crafts, walking with a group around the neighbourhood to keep it safe, picking up trash.
    Use the Help Next Door MB platform to connect with those who are unable to leave their homes (elderly, disabled, vulnerable) to help them with errands like grocery shopping, picking up medication, or emergency snow clearing and others.

  5. Social action

    Volunteers join the program because of a strong belief or goal. They want to see a change in society and are passionate about the cause. Volunteers see each other as friends, like non-formal volunteers. They do not have regular volunteer time.

    Example positions: Lobbyist for political groups, campaigner for environmentalism, advocate for research/studies on a certain illness or disease.
    Sample activities: Attending rallies, talking to people about issues, making placards, gathering signatures, making phone calls.
    Check out Greenpeace Winnipeg’s activities.Sign up to volunteer.

  6. Project based

    Volunteering for a project can take a week or several months. Your work ends when the project is done. It can have leaders or coordinators but they do not manage the volunteers. They work with them.

    Example positions: Folklorama volunteer, member of a committee planning the anniversary of your town
    Sample activities: Welcoming visitors, making a communications plan, getting advertisers for a commemorative book, organizing a drive
    Ask how you can get involved in a project for the Oak Table.

Other types:

Internship year or gap year volunteering and voluntourism.
This is for students or young people who want to experience working for a non-profit. It is done overseas. Volunteers teach a language or help in various tasks. They experience local culture in exchange.

Online volunteering
Volunteers help by teaching using online means. Examples are mentoring (for example teaching English), or counselling the youth. It can also use the telephone like the 1:1 Peer support Program which helps individuals living with MS and for loved ones of people with MS. Go to Volunteer Canada to see more virtual volunteering opportunities all over Canada.

Micro volunteering
This is helping through small actions done online. Examples are donating on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc. or joining email campaigns by providing your digital signature (example: Open Letters to the government on various issues from ONE). As long as you’re willing to help, you can get involved!
Article updated October 27, 2020.
Sources: Types of volunteering, Volunteering Queensland; The five types of volunteer programs and how to pick the right one, Steph Dyson, Go Overseas; and 5 different types of volunteering activities, Volunteer Weekly. Retrieved July 5, 2018.

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