6.4. Volunteering roles

Volunteers perform numerous functions in many areas of community life. Depending on the function a volunteer’s role can involve any one or more of the following:

  • Action or Hands- on: This type of volunteering activities demand minimal training to get started and almost anyone can do it. It involves activities such as planting trees, cleaning up parks or memorials, taking dogs out for a walk, painting walls of an orphanage, collecting money for a cause, setting up a community picnic, aso.
  • Skilled or knowledge: Activities depend on the particular skills or knowledge and experience that you have to offer. It can involve setting up or maintaining a webpage of a non-profit organization, providing language lessons to seniors or children, doing workshops on a certain topic, or providing legal advice.
  • Direct service: This type of activities allow you to be at the front lines, having direct contact with the beneficiaries. It can involve giving out food to homeless people, doing activities in senior or youth centers, doing gardening or grocery services.
  • Advisory: Serving more behind the scenes to an organization by providing feedback on strategic or fundraising plans, advising on which online communication tools to use or serving as a board member or in an advisory committee.
  • Online: Activities are about completing projects that you can do from anywhere in the world as long as you have email or internet access. This can involve translating materials, blogging, managing fan pages or developing webpages.

Many volunteering roles involve all of the above. Think for instance of organizing a charity event for a certain organization. It will demand that you get your hands dirty by setting up the place but it will also demand some knowledge from you on how to organize such an event. You need to be in direct contact with the beneficiaries of the organization in order to decide together on what the goal of the charity event is. You also may have to advise the organization on which communication tools to use to inform people about the charity event and update the organizations webpage about the event.

The volunteering role is also connected to the time commitment related to the activity. The activity may only take place one time, like for instance helping at a community festival, or do fundraising before the Christmas holidays. The activity may demand occasional volunteers, who for instance give out food at a homeless shelter, or help out in case someone gets sick at a school or youth center. The volunteering activity may also be ongoing, based on an agreed upon period of time. This may involve helping out in the office for a certain period of time of a non-profit organization, or organizing play days in youth centers for a semester. It may also involve travelling for a period of time to a country where you volunteer.