What is volunteering?

Volunteering is the time you give to strengthen your community and improve others' quality of life as well as your own. There are so many ways to be involved in the community that:

  • Speak to your passion
  • Suit your personality
  • Meet your interests
  • Build on your experiences
  • Fit into your lifestyle
  • Contribute to your health and well-being

How can volunteering fit into my lifestyle?

You may be at a point in your life when you do not want to take on any more responsibility or you may be in a position to take charge. There is a wide spectrum of volunteer opportunities available to suit a range of interests and circumstances.

You can volunteer:

  • From home
  • In an office
  • In a garden
  • Overseas
  • With family and friends
  • On your own
  • Just in the summer
  • Once a year
  • Every day
  • Now or later
  • Short-term, longer-term, ongoing, or occasionally

Combine volunteering with other things that are important in your life such as:

  • Time with family (volunteer with your family or in your grandchildren's school)
  • Travelling (join an international development project overseas)
  • Spending time with friends (get a group together to plan a special event)
  • Hobbies (teach puppet-making in a community centre)
  • Recreation (be a swimming buddy for someone with a disability)

What kind of volunteering can I do?

The possibilities are endless.


  • Facilitate a strategic planning session
  • Serve on a Board or Committee
  • Chair a fundraising campaign
  • Help start a tenants rights association

Management and administration

  • Review a Human Resources Manual
  • Organize a volunteer schedule for an event
  • Enter data at a resource centre
  • Provide general office help

Technology and social media

  • Design a website for an elder-care co-op
  • Write a blog on affordable housing
  • Customize a donor database for a food bank
  • Teach computer skills in a community centre

Building and handicrafts

  • Build a book shelf for a reading room
  • Sew costumes for a play
  • Teach card-making in a rehabilitation centre
  • Build a stage for marathon ceremonies

Nature and environment

  • Walk a dog for a local animal shelter
  • Research pesticide bylaws in different cities
  • Plant vegetables in a community garden

One-to-one support

  • Tutor children
  • Comfort a victim of violence
  • Be a mentor to a teen
  • Coach an executive director

Direct Service

  • Answer the phones for a helpline
  • Prepare lunch in a soup kitchen
  • Coach a team
  • Drive people to medical appointments


  • Play piano for a sing-a-long at a retirement residence
  • MC at a volunteer service awards night
  • Do a stand-up comedy act at a fundraiser
  • Join a choir that entertains at community events

Benefits of volunteering

In addition to the valuable contribution you make to the community, volunteering has been proven to have many benefits for you as a volunteer.

Opportunities to:

  • Learn new skills
  • Expand horizons
  • Maintain or establish a sense of belonging
  • Expand social and business contacts
  • Stay active

Reduction of:

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Stress-related illness

Volunteering and retirement planning

Volunteering can play a key role at every stage but it can also serve as a way to help you through transitions, such as retirement. Volunteering can contribute to your quality of life today and allow you to create a legacy for the future.

Whether your transition or retirement involves a change in your household, neighbourhood, health situation, employment status, or daily schedule, volunteering can make your days both meaningful and satisfying in new ways.

Volunteering can connect you to your community, help you maintain your skills or develop new skills, and allow you to participate in the democratic process. Through volunteering, you can help shape and preserve the society you want to live in - for yourself and for generations to come.

How to find the right volunteer opportunity:

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What matters to me?
  • What skills and experiences do I want to share or develop?
  • What setting would be best for me?
  • Are there others I know who might like to volunteer together?
  • What are the challenges and issues in my community, country, in the world?

What kind of volunteer are you?

Take the Volunteer Quiz and get some ideas of what might suit your interests, skills, and personality.

Finding volunteer opportunities

To find current opportunities, call an organization you know, contact your local volunteer centre, look in your neighbourhood newspaper, or check out websites or databases for volunteers.

This document has been prepared by Volunteer Canada at the request of the Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors. The Forum is an intergovernmental body established to share information, discuss new and emerging issues related to seniors, and work collaboratively on key projects.

Québec's participation in the development of this document was aimed at sharing expertise, information and best practices. However Québec does not subscribe to, or take part in, an integrated pan-Canadian approach in this field and intends to fully assume its responsibilities for seniors in Québec.

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