Choosing a volunteer role

It's important to think carefully about what you'd like to do, how much time you have and what kind of organisation you'd like to be involved with. Being clear about these things will help you get the most out of your volunteering experience and make it easier to find volunteer positions that suit you.

Select a topic to find out more:

  • How much time do you have?
  • What organisations or projects do you want to be involved with?
  • What type of role do you want?
  • Where to from here?

How much time do you have?

Many of us are time poor – we work or study full time, have family commitments, play sports and so on – but even occasional volunteering can make a big difference.

People structure the way they volunteer in many ways. Some roles will involve a short (or even longer term) project where you are involved for a block of time, sometimes as a one-off activity. Others will offer shifts which you can do on a regular basis or treat more casually to fit around your other commitments. Some may involve work you can do from home or online.

Whether it's a regular commitment or something that you just do once or twice a year, all volunteering is important.

When thinking about your availability, be realistic about how much time you can commit. You don't want to over-commit and burn yourself out, or turn a fun activity into a chore.

Organisations often include information about their time needs when they advertise positions and you will be able to discuss things like availability and flexibility when you first inquire about a role.

What organisations or projects do you want to be involved with?

Organisations that involve volunteers cover just about every sector of the community like environment, arts and culture, health, disability, education and sport.

Choose organisations with similar principles and values to your own (and that offer the types of volunteer roles that you are interested in). You may also want to focus on organisations with positions that are close to home or work for ease of travel.

You can find out about organisations by asking your friends, colleagues and family, contacting your local council or community centre or following links to organisations and websites on these pages:

Find out as much as you can about an organisation before you apply for a position. Their website may provide background information. Otherwise just call them up or make an appointment to talk to someone face-to-face. By making an inquiry you are under no obligation to take on a role with an organisation. Talking to someone will ultimately help you choose the opportunity that best suits your needs.

Some of the things you might want to ask an organisation include:

  • Is the organisation or its project not-for-profit?
  • What are the organisation's values and beliefs?
  • Is the volunteer work you will be doing specific and defined? Is there a volunteer role description?
  • Does the organisation have volunteer insurance?

What type of role do you want?

Obviously your goals, availability, skills, interests and passions will point you to specific types of roles. If you're not really sure about what's available, check out some of our other pages for inspiration:

Where to from here?

Armed with all the above information, you will be ready to start applying for volunteer positions. Most organisations will have an application process – but don't let this put you off. The recruitment process is there to help both you and the volunteering organisation get the most out of what you have to offer and it gives you a chance to meet some of the people you'll be spending your time with.

Find out more about applying for positions, how to prepare and what to expect on these pages: