Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labor for
community service Community service is unpaid work performed by a person or group of people for the benefit and betterment of their community without any form of compensation. Community service can be distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed ...
. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as
medicine Medicine is the science and practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, treatment, palliation of their injury or disease, and promoting their health. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practic ...
, education, or
emergency rescue Emergency services and rescue services are organizations that ensure public safety and health by addressing and resolving different emergencies. Some of these agencies exist solely for addressing certain types of emergencies, while others deal wi ...
. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a
natural disaster A natural disaster is "the negative impact following an actual occurrence of natural hazard in the event that it significantly harms a community". A natural disaster can cause loss of life or damage property, and typically leaves some econo ...

Etymology and history

The verb was first recorded in 1755. It was derived from the noun ''volunteer'', in 1600, "one who offers himself for military service," from the
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the 16th century. It is a period of transition during which: * the French language became clearly distinguished from ...
''voluntaire''. In the non-military sense, the word was first recorded during the 1630s. The word ''volunteering'' has more recent usage—still predominantly military—coinciding with the phrase ''community service''. In a military context, a
volunteer army The Volunteer Army (russian: Добровольческая армия, translit=Dobrovolcheskaya armiya, abbreviated to russian: Добрармия, translit=Dobrarmiya) was a White Army active in South Russia during the Russian Civil War from ...
is a military body whose soldiers chose to enter service, as opposed to having been conscripted. Such volunteers do not work "for free" and are given regular pay.

19th century

During this time, America experienced the
Great Awakening Great Awakening refers to a number of periods of religious revival in American Christian history. Historians and theologians identify three, or sometimes four, waves of increased religious enthusiasm between the early 18th century and the lat ...
. People became aware of the disadvantaged and realized the cause for movement against slavery. In 1851, the first YMCA in the United States was started, followed seven years later by the first YWCA. During the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union ("the North") and the Confederacy ("the South"), the latter formed by states ...
, women volunteered their time to sew supplies for the soldiers and the "Angel of the Battlefield"
Clara Barton Clarissa Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher, and a patent clerk. Since nursing education was not then very ...
and a team of volunteers began providing aid to servicemen. Barton founded the
American Red Cross The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as the American National Red Cross, is a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It is the desig ...
in 1881 and began mobilizing volunteers for disaster relief operations, including relief for victims of the
Johnstown Flood The Johnstown Flood (locally, the Great Flood of 1889) occurred on Friday, May 31, 1889, after the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam, located on the south fork of the Little Conemaugh River, upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsy ...
in 1889.

20th and 21st centuries

The Salvation Army is one of the oldest and largest organizations working for disadvantaged people. Though it is a charity organization, it has organized a number of volunteering programs since its inception. Prior to the 19th century, few formal charitable organizations existed to assist people in need. In the first few decades of the 20th century, several volunteer organizations were founded, including the
Rotary International Rotary International is one of the largest service organizations in the world. Its stated mission is to "provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through hefellowship of business, prof ...
, Kiwanis International, Association of Junior Leagues International, and Lions Clubs International. The Great Depression saw one of the first large-scale, nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteering for a specific need. During World War II, thousands of volunteer offices supervised the volunteers who helped with the many needs of the military and the
home front Home front is an English language term with analogues in other languages. It is commonly used to describe the full participation of the British public in World War I who suffered Zeppelin raids and endured food rations as part of what came ...
, including collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave, and caring for the injured. After World War II, people shifted the focus of their altruistic passions to other areas, including helping the poor and volunteering overseas. A major development was the
Peace Corps The Peace Corps is an independent agency and program of the United States government that trains and deploys volunteers to provide international development assistance. It was established in March 1961 by an executive order of President John F ...
in the United States in 1960. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a ''War on Poverty'' in 1964, volunteer opportunities started to expand and continued into the next few decades. The process for finding volunteer work became more formalized, with more volunteer centers forming and new ways to find work appearing on the World Wide Web through organizations like JustServe and
AmeriCorps AmeriCorps (officially the Corporation for National and Community Service or CNCS) is an independent agency of the United States government that engages more than five million Americans in service through a variety of stipended volunteer work pro ...
. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (in 2012), about 64.5 million Americans, or 26.5 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $175 billion. This calculates at about 125–150 hours per year or 3 hours per week at a rate of $22 per hour. Volunteer hours in the UK are similar; the data for other countries is unavailable.


Volunteering as utilized by service learning programs

Many schools on all education levels offer service-learning programs, which allow students to serve the community through volunteering while earning educational credit. According to Alexander Astin in the foreword to ''Where's the Learning in Service-Learning?'' by Janet Eyler and Dwight E. Giles, Jr.,"...we promote more wide-spread adoption of service-learning in higher education because we see it as a powerful means of preparing students to become more caring and responsible parents and citizens and of helping colleges and universities to make good on their pledge to 'serve society.'" When describing service learning, the Medical Education at Harvard says, "Service learning unites academic study and volunteer community service in mutually reinforcing ways. ...service learning is characterized by a relationship of partnership: the student learns from the service agency and from the community and, in return, gives energy, intelligence, commitment, time and skills to address human and community needs." Volunteering in service learning seems to have the result of engaging both mind and heart, thus providing a more powerful learning experience; according to Janet Eyler and Dwight E. Giles, it succeeds by the fact that it "...fosters student development by capturing student interest..." More recent scholarship has found shortcomings in the early assumptions of mutual benefit, since early studies were interested in educational benefits rather than community outcomes. An Indiana study found that the nonprofit agencies hosting student service-learners do not report a positive impact on service capacity, although service-learners do help to increase agency visibility. In the end, service-learning must follow other principles of effective volunteer management such as screening, training, and supervising.

Skills-based volunteering

''Skills-based volunteering'' is leveraging the specialized skills and the talents of individuals to strengthen the infrastructure of nonprofits, helping them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions. This is in contrast to traditional volunteering, where volunteers do something other than their professional work. The average hour of traditional volunteering is valued by the Independent Sector at between $18–20 an hour. Skills-based volunteering is valued at $40–500 an hour, depending on the market value of the time.

Virtual volunteering

Also called ''e-volunteering'' or ''online volunteering'', virtual volunteering is a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, offsite from the organization being assisted. They use the Internet and a home, school,
telecenter A telecentre is a public place where people can access computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills. Telecent ...
or work computer, or other Internet-connected device, such as a
PDA PDA may refer to: Science and technology * Patron-driven acquisition, a mechanism for libraries to purchase books *Personal digital assistant, a mobile device * Photodiode array, a type of detector * Polydiacetylenes, a family of conducting po ...
or smartphone. Virtual volunteering is also known as cyber service, telementoring, and teletutoring, as well as various other names. Virtual volunteering is similar to remote work, except that instead of online employees who are paid, these are online volunteers who are not paid. Contributing to
free and open source software Free and open-source software (FOSS) is a term used to refer to groups of software consisting of both free software and open-source software where anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source ...
projects or editing Wikipedia are examples of virtual volunteering.


Micro-volunteering is a task performed via an internet-connected device. An individual typically does this task in small, un-paid increments of time. Micro-volunteering is distinct from "virtual volunteering" in that it typically does not require the individual volunteer to go through an application process, screening process, or training period.

Environmental volunteering

Environmental volunteering refers to the volunteers who contribute towards environmental management or conservation. Volunteers conduct a range of activities including environmental monitoring, ecological restoration such as re-vegetation and weed removal, protecting endangered animals, and educating others about the natural environment.

Volunteering in an emergency

Volunteering often plays a pivotal role in the recovery effort following natural disasters, such as tsunamis, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and earthquakes. For example, the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake in Japan was a watershed moment, bringing in many first-time volunteers for earthquake response. The
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami An earthquake and a tsunami, known as the Boxing Day Tsunami and, by the scientific community, the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake, occurred at 07:58:53 local time (UTC+7) on 26 December 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Suma ...
attracted a large number of volunteers worldwide, deployed by
non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization (NGO) or non-governmental organisation (see spelling differences) is an organization that generally is formed independent from government. They are typically nonprofit entities, and many of them are active in h ...
s, government agencies, and the United Nations. During the 2012 hurricane Sandy emergency, Occupy Sandy volunteers formed a ''laterally organized rapid-response team'' that provided much needed help during and after the storm, from food to shelter to reconstruction. It is an example of mutualism at work, pooling resources and assistance and leveraging social media.

Volunteering in schools

Resource poor schools around the world rely on government support or on efforts from volunteers and private donations, in order to run effectively. In some countries, whenever the economy is down, the need for volunteers and resources increases greatly. There are many opportunities available in school systems for volunteers. Yet, there are not many requirements in order to volunteer in a school system. Whether one is a high school or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) graduate or college student, most schools require just voluntary and selfless effort. Much like the benefits of any type of volunteering there are great rewards for the volunteer, student, and school. In addition to intangible rewards, volunteers can add relevant experience to their resumes. Volunteers who travel to assist may learn foreign culture and language. Volunteering in schools can be an additional teaching guide for the students and help to fill the gap of local teachers. Cultural and language exchange during teaching and other school activities can be the most essential learning experience for both students and volunteers.

Corporate volunteering

Benefacto, a volunteering brokerage, describe corporate volunteering as "Companies giving their employees an allowance of paid time off annually, which they use to volunteer at a charity of their choice." A majority of the companies at the
Fortune 500 The ''Fortune'' 500 is an annual list compiled and published by ''Fortune'' magazine that ranks 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. The list includes publicly held companies, along ...
allow their employees to volunteer during work hours. These formalized Employee Volunteering Programs (EVPs), also called Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV), are regarded as a part of the companies' sustainability efforts and their social responsibility activities. About 40% of Fortune 500 companies provide monetary
donations A donation is a gift for charity, humanitarian aid, or to benefit a cause. A donation may take various forms, including money, alms, services, or goods such as clothing, toys, food, or vehicles. A donation may satisfy medical needs such as bl ...
, also known as volunteer grants, to nonprofits as a way to recognize employees who dedicate significant amounts of time to volunteering in the community. According to the information from VolunteerMatch, a service that provides Employee Volunteering Program solutions, the key drivers for companies that produce and manage EVPs are building brand awareness and affinity, strengthening trust and loyalty among consumers, enhancing corporate image and reputation, improving
employee retention Employee retention is the ability of an organization to retain its employees and make sure the sustainability of employees. Employee retention can be represented by a simple statistic (for example, a retention rate of 80% usually indicates that an o ...
, increasing employee productivity and loyalty, and providing an effective vehicle to reach strategic goals. In April 2015, David Cameron pledged to give all UK workers employed by companies with more 250 staff mandatory three days' paid volunteering leave, which if implemented will generate an extra 360 million volunteering hours a year.

Community volunteer work

Community volunteering, in the US called "
community service Community service is unpaid work performed by a person or group of people for the benefit and betterment of their community without any form of compensation. Community service can be distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed ...
", refers globally to those who work to improve their local community. This activity commonly occurs through not for profit organizations, local governments and churches; but also encompasses ad-hoc or informal groups such as recreational sports teams.

Social volunteering or welfare volunteering

In some European countries government organisations and non-government organisations provide auxiliary positions for a certain period in institutions like hospitals, schools, memorial sites and welfare institutions. The difference to other types of volunteering is that there are strict legal regulations, what organisation is allowed to engage volunteers and about the period a volunteer is allowed to work in a voluntary position. Due to that fact, the volunteer is getting a limited amount as a pocket money from the government. Organizations having the biggest manpower in Europe are the Voluntary social year (German: ''Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr''), with more than 50.000 volunteers per year, and the Federal volunteers service (German: ''Bundesfreiwilligendienst''), with about 30.000 to 40.000 volunteers per year.

Volunteering at major sporting events

25,000 volunteers worked at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. They supported the organisers in more than 20 functional areas: meeting guests, assisting navigation, organising the opening and closing ceremonies, organising food outlets, etc. Volunteer applications were open to any nationals of Russia and other countries. The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee received about 200,000 applications, 8 applicants per place. Volunteers received training over the course of more than a year at 26 volunteer centres in 17 cities across Russia. The majority of participants were between 17 and 22 years old. At the same time, 3000 applications were submitted from people over 55 years old. Some of them worked as volunteers during the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. It was the first experience with such a large-scale volunteer program in the contemporary Russia. The FIFA World Cup in 2018 was supported by 17,040 volunteers of the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Medical Volunteering

Volunteering in the context of delivering medical care is referred to as medical volunteering. In general, medical volunteering has been lauded as a "ethical responsibility to aid the needy. The activities are often offered by both for profit and not for profit associations. Medical volunteers typically participate in unpaid medical volunteer programs in hospitals, clinics, and underserved areas. Typically, these regions are in underdeveloped nations or nations battling natural disasters, sickness, or violence. These activities typically involves volunteer physicians and nurses. Dental volunteering is a part of medical volunteering which predominantly focused on dental care.

Volunteer days, weeks and years

Designated days, weeks and years observed by a country or as designated by the United Nations to encourage volunteering / community service * Global Youth Service Day * International Volunteer Day * International Year of Volunteers * Join Hands Day * Mandela Day * MLK Day of service * Mitzvah Day * Random Acts of Kindness Day * Sewa Day * Make A Difference Day * World Kindness Day

Political view

Modern societies share a common value of people helping each other; not only do volunteer acts assist others, but they also benefit the volunteering individual on a personal level. Despite having similar objectives, tension can arise between volunteers and state-provided services. In order to curtail this tension, most countries develop policies and enact legislation to clarify the roles and relationships among governmental stakeholders and their voluntary counterparts; this regulation identifies and allocates the necessary legal, social, administrative, and financial support of each party. This is particularly necessary when some voluntary activities are seen as a challenge to the authority of the state (e.g., on 29 January 2001, President Bush cautioned that volunteer groups should supplement—not replace—government agencies' work). Volunteering that benefits the state but challenges paid counterparts angers labor unions that represent those who are paid for their volunteer work; this is particularly seen in combination departments, such as volunteer fire departments.

Difficulties in cross-national aid

Difficulties in the cross-national aid model of volunteering can arise when it is applied across national borders. The presence of volunteers who are sent from one state to another can be viewed as a breach of
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person ...
and showing a lack of respect towards the national government of the proposed recipients. Thus, motivations are important when states negotiate offers to send aid and when these proposals are accepted, particularly if donors may postpone assistance or stop it altogether. Three types of conditionality have evolved: #Financial accountability: Transparency in funding management to ensure that what is done by the volunteers is properly targeted #Policy reform: Governmental request that developing countries adopt certain social, economic, or environmental policies; often, the most controversial relate to the privatization of services traditionally offered by the state #Development objectives: Asking developing countries to adjust specific time-bound economic objectives Some international volunteer organizations define their primary mission as being altruistic: to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world, (e.g. Voluntary Services Overseas has almost 2,000 skilled professionals working as volunteers to pass on their expertise to local people so that the volunteers' skills remain long after they return home). When these organizations work in partnership with governments, the results can be impressive. However, when other organizations or individual First World governments support the work of volunteer groups, there can be questions as to whether the organizations' or governments' real motives are poverty alleviation. Instead, a focus on creating wealth for some of the poor or developing policies intended to benefit the donor states is sometimes reported. Many low-income countries' economies suffer from industrialization without prosperity and investment without growth. One reason for this is that development assistance guides many Third World governments to pursue development policies that have been wasteful, ill-conceived, or unproductive; some of these policies have been so destructive that the economies could not have been sustained without outside support. Indeed, some offers of aid have distorted the general spirit of volunteering, treating local voluntary action as contributions in kind, i.e., existing conditions requiring the modification of local people's behavior in order for them to earn the right to donors'
charity Charity may refer to: Giving * Charitable organization or charity, a non-profit organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being of persons * Charity (practice) The practice of charity is the voluntary giving of help ...
. This can be seen as patronizing and offensive to the recipients because the aid expressly serves the policy aims of the donors rather than the needs of the recipients.

Moral resources, political capital and civil society

Based on a case study in China, Xu and Ngai (2011) revealed that the developing grassroots volunteerism can be an enclave among various organizations and may be able to work toward the development of civil society in the developing countries. The researchers developed a "Moral Resources and Political Capital" approach to examine the contributions of volunteerism in promoting the civil society. Moral resource means the available morals could be chosen by NGOs. Political capital means the capital that will improve or enhance the NGOs' status, possession or access in the existing political system. Moreover, Xu and Ngai (2011) distinguished two types of Moral Resources: Moral Resource-I and Moral Resource-II (ibid). #Moral Resource I: Inspired by
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aest ...
's (1998
787 787 may refer to: * Boeing 787 Dreamliner The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an American wide-body jet airliner developed and manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. After dropping its unconventional Sonic Cruiser project, Boeing announce ...
argument of "What ought I to do," Moral Resource-I will encourage the NGOs' confidence and then have the courage to act and conquer difficulties by way of answering and confirming the question of "What ought I to do." #Moral Resource II: given that Adorno (2000) recognizes that moral or immoral tropes are socially determined, Moral Resource-II refers to the morals that are well accepted by the given society. Thanks to the intellectual heritage of Blau and Duncan (1967), two types of political capital were identified: #Political Capital-I refers to the political capital mainly ascribed to the status that the NGO inherited throughout history (e.g., the CYL). #Political Capital-II refers to the Political Capital that the NGOs earned through their hard efforts. Obviously, "Moral resource-I itself contains the self-determination that gives participants confidence in the ethical beliefs they have chosen", almost any organizations may have Moral Resource-I, while not all of them have the societal recognized Moral Resource-II. However, the voluntary service organizations predominantly occupy Moral Resource-II because a sense of moral superiority makes it possible that for parties with different values, goals and cultures to work together in promoting the promotion of volunteering. Thus the voluntary service organizations are likely to win the trust and support of the masses as well as the government more easily than will the organizations whose morals are not accepted by mainstream society. In other words, Moral Resource II helps the grassroots organizations with little Political Capital I to win Political Capital-II, which is a crucial factor for their survival and growth in developing countries such as China. Therefore, the voluntary service realm could be an enclave of the development of civil society in the developing nations.

Potential benefits of volunteering


Volunteering for community service as part of a college curriculum ( service-learning) provides opportunities for students to surround themselves with new people which helps them learn how to work together as a group, improve teamwork and relational skills, reduce stereotypes, and increases appreciation of other cultures. Students participating in service-learning programs are shown to have more positive attitudes toward self, attitudes toward school and learning, civic engagement, social skills, and academic performance. They are also more likely to complete their degree.


Volunteers are observed to have a reduced mortality risk compared to non-volunteers. Therefore, it is worth noting that the various types of work as a volunteer and psychological effects of such altruistic work may produce enough side-effects to contribute to a longer and more fulfilling life. A systematic review shows that adults over age of 65 years who volunteer may experience improved physical and mental health and potentially reduced mortality.

Mental health

A worldwide survey was conducted in a study, suggesting that people who experience the highest levels of happiness are the most successful in terms of close relationships and volunteer work. In comparison, charity in the form of monetary
donations A donation is a gift for charity, humanitarian aid, or to benefit a cause. A donation may take various forms, including money, alms, services, or goods such as clothing, toys, food, or vehicles. A donation may satisfy medical needs such as bl ...
, which is another form of
altruism Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for the welfare and/or happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core asp ...
(volunteering being one of them) is also known to have a similar effect. Another study finds that helping others is associated with higher levels of mental health, above and beyond the benefits of receiving help. On the subject of service-learning, undergraduate students who volunteered 1 to 9 hours per week were less likely to feel depressed than students who did not volunteer. Among people aged 65 years old or above, volunteering may reduce the risk of depression.


In the United States, statistics on volunteering have historically been limited, according to volunteerism expert Susan J. Ellis. In 2013, the U.S.
Current Population Survey The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of about 60,000 U.S. households conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS uses the data to publish reports early each month called the Em ...
included a volunteering supplement which produced statistics on volunteering.


In the 1960s,
Ivan Illich Ivan Dominic Illich ( , ; 4 September 1926 – 2 December 2002) was an Austrian Roman Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, and social critic. His 1971 book ''Deschooling Society'' criticises modern society's institutional approach to ed ...
offered an analysis of the role of American volunteers in Mexico in his speech entitled "To Hell With Good Intentions". His concerns, along with those of critics such as Paulo Freire and Edward Said, revolve around the notion of
altruism Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for the welfare and/or happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core asp ...
as an extension of Christian
missionary A missionary is a member of a religious group which is sent into an area in order to promote its faith or provide services to people, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.Thomas Hale 'On Being a Mi ...
ideology An ideology is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially those held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which "practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones." Formerly applied prim ...
. In addition, he mentions the sense of responsibility/
obligation An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. Obligations are constraints; they limit freedom. People who are under obligations may choose to freely act under obligations. Obligation exists when the ...
as a factor, which drives the concept of noblesse oblige—first developed by the French
aristocracy Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'. At the time of the word ...
as a
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim. ...
duty derived from their wealth. Simply stated, these apprehensions propose the extension of power and authority over indigenous cultures around the world. Recent critiques of volunteering come from Westmier and Kahn (1996) and
bell hooks Gloria Jean Watkins (September 25, 1952December 15, 2021), better known by her pen name bell hooks, was an American author and social activist who was Distinguished Professor in Residence at Berea College. She is best known for her writings o ...
(née Gloria Watkins) (2004). Also
Georgeou (2012)
has critiqued the impact of
neoliberalism Neoliberalism (also neo-liberalism) is a term used to signify the late 20th century political reappearance of 19th-century ideas associated with free-market capitalism after it fell into decline following the Second World War. A prominent fa ...
on international aid volunteering. The field of the medical tourism (referring to volunteers who travel overseas to deliver medical care) has recently attracted negative criticism when compared to the alternative notion of sustainable capacities, i.e., work done in the context of long-term, locally-run, and foreign-supported infrastructures. A preponderance of this criticism appears largely in scientific and peer-reviewed literature. Recently, media outlets with more general readerships have published such criticisms as well. This type of volunteering is pejoratively referred to as "medical voluntourism". Another problem noted with volunteering is that it can be used to replace low paid entry positions. This can act to decrease social mobility, with only those capable of affording to work without payment able to gain the experience. Trade unions in the United Kingdom have warned that long term volunteering is a form of exploitation, used by charities to avoid minimum wage legislation. Some sectors now expect candidates for paid roles to have undergone significant periods of volunteer experience whether relevant to the role or not, setting up 'Volunteer Credentialism'. Volunteers can be exposed to stressful situations and attitudes, which can cause them to suffer from burnout which in turn reduces their activism and overall well-being. There is also evidence that volunteering can become a moral obligation that prompts feelings of guilt when not performed.Gill MJ. (2021) Understanding the Spread of Sustained Employee Volunteering: How Volunteers Influence Their Coworkers' Moral Identity Work. Journal of Management.

See also

* Association for Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) * Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) *
Avocation An avocation is an activity that someone engages in as a hobby outside their main occupation. There are many examples of people whose professions were the ways that they made their livings, but for whom their activities outside their workplaces w ...
Community service Community service is unpaid work performed by a person or group of people for the benefit and betterment of their community without any form of compensation. Community service can be distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed ...
Crossing guard A crossing guard ( North American English), lollipop man/lady ( British, Irish, and Australian English), crosswalk attendant (also Australian English), or school road patrol ( New Zealand English) is a traffic management personnel who is normal ...
* European Solidarity Corps * Federal volunteers service * International volunteering * List of volunteer awards *
Micro-volunteering Micro-volunteering describes a volunteer, or team of volunteers, completing small tasks that make up a larger project. These tasks often benefit a research, charitable, or non-governmental organization. It differs from normal volunteerism as the ...
* PeaceCorps *
Pro bono ( en, 'for the public good'), usually shortened to , is a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. In the United States, the term typically refers to provision of legal services by legal professionals for p ...
* ''
Subbotnik Subbotnik and voskresnik (from rus, суббо́та, p=sʊˈbotə for "Saturday" and , for "Sunday") were days of volunteer unpaid work on weekends after the October Revolution, though the word itself is derived from (''Subbota'' for Sat ...
'' * Scout leader * ''
Technisches Hilfswerk The (THW, English: ''Federal Agency for Technical Relief'') is the federal Emergency management, civil protection organisation of Germany. It is controlled by the Germany, German Cabinet of Germany, federal government. 99% of its 79,543 members ...
'' (THW) * Voluntarism * Voluntary social year


* Geiser, Ch.; Okun, M. A.; Grano, C. (2014)
"Who is motivated to volunteer? A latent profile analysis linking volunteer motivation to frequency of volunteering"
Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling. 56(1). pp. 3–24.

Further reading

* Georgeou, Nichole, '' Neoliberalism, Development, and Aid Volunteering, '' New York: Routledge, 2012.

External links

Volunteerism and legislation: a Guidance Note
Inter-Parliamentary Union The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU; french: Union Interparlementaire, UIP) is an international organization of national parliaments. Its primary purpose is to promote democratic governance, accountability, and cooperation among its members; other ...
, United Nations Volunteers,
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is a worldwide humanitarian aid organization that reaches 160 million people each year through its 192-member National Societies. It acts before, during and after disast ...
, 2004 {{Authority control Work