5 types of volunteer work

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There are five types of volunteer work:

  1. Formal

    These are programs that go for a long time. You have to volunteer regularly. You have to be there for a specified amount of time. Managers guide the work of volunteers. They have rules and policies you have to follow.

    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. They 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 Parent-Teacher Association.
    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 at Charity Village.

  4. Informal

    Informal volunteer work is done in local communities. Participants feel like members or friends rather than volunteers.

    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.
    Visit your nearest church or community group to learn about projects you can help with.

  5. Social action

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

    Example positions: Supporter of political groups, campaigner for environmentalism, supporting 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 Greenpeace Winnipeg or the Winnipeg Humane Society 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 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 plans, getting advertisers for a program
    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. They 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 the internet. Examples are teaching (for example teaching English), or giving advice to the youth. It can also use the telephone like the Canadian Red Cross Friendly Calls Program. Go to Volunteer Canada to see more volunteering opportunities all over Canada.

Micro volunteering
This is helping through small actions. It is done online. Examples are giving money on Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Or providing your signature through email (example: Letters to the government on various issues from ONE). As long as you’re willing to help, you can get involved!
Article updated October 25, 2023.
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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Community Resources

Other volunteer opportunities in Manitoba:

Go to Volunteer Manitoba for other volunteer opportunities.

Check your community center’s bulletin board for volunteer opportunities. You can also volunteer at your child’s school.

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