Definition of volunteering

Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good & without financial gain


Explanatory notes for definition

Volunteering is part of the wider concept of civic participation.

These notes clarify what Volunteering Australia considers volunteering is, but also lists a number of somewhat similar activities or areas that are outside of volunteering. These may also act as pathways for people to become volunteers.

The term ‘volunteering’ covers a wide diversity of activities in Australian society. It includes formal volunteering that takes place within organisations (including institutions and agencies) in a structured way and informal volunteering, acts that take place outside the context of a formal organisation.

While the vast majority of volunteering is undertaken by individuals, entities also donate employee time and this is included within this definition of volunteering.

Consideration of the term volunteering needs to also note best practice guidelines. Volunteering should not be exploitative, or be used to replace paid employment. While volunteering provides substantial benefits to society, importantly it also provides significant benefits to volunteers themselves. The personal benefits of volunteering need to be recognised and fostered.

Further information regarding best practice and the appropriate involvement of volunteers in organisations and more widely is available on our website and through Volunteering Australia.



Photo: QUT Big Lift