Volunteering is the practice of working on behalf of others without being motivated by financial or material gain. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. People also volunteer to gain skills without requiring an employer's financial investment. Volunteers are people from all walks of life, all ages, and stages. What they have in common is the desire to make a difference in their community by giving their time and expertise.

Volunteers are involved in virtually every aspect of society including health, education, social services, sports and recreation, culture, the arts, and the environment. Some volunteers give just one hour of time each week; others devote many hours. Volunteers are involved in one-time events as well as ongoing commitments. Volunteers can work on their own or in a team environment, do hands-on work, or volunteer in an administrative or leadership setting.

Beginning in September of 1999, Ontario high school students must complete 40 hours of volunteer work by the end of their last year as a requirements for graduation. The aim is to encourage youth to become actively involved in making positive contributions to their community. Volunteering promotes students to develop awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and of the role they can play and the contributions they can make in supporting and strengthening their communities. To learn more about the province of Ontario’s community involvement activities visit the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Volunteering is often a very
fulfilling experience.
Volunteering is a great way for newcomer youth to meet other immigrants, get involved in their communities, and expand their social network of friends. In fact, many volunteers do so because they are new Canadians and volunteering provides the chance to gain Canadian work experience, practice language skills, and integrate into a new community. Volunteering also provides an opportunity to discover your talents, explore career options, act on their social awareness, gain self-confidence, and build a sense of independence throughout the settlement process.

There are many other benefits of volunteering at the individual, community, and national levels. Activities undertaken by volunteers are those that would otherwise have to be funded by the state or by private capital, so volunteering adds to the overall economic output of a country and reduces the burden on government spending. Volunteering also helps to build more cohesive communities, fostering greater trust between citizens and developing norms of solidarity and reciprocity that are essential to stable communities. Also, graduates can meet people and gain work experience through volunteering, gain practical experience, and strengthen their resumes.