Q. What Can I Expect When I Offer to Volunteer?

This will vary from organization to organization.  Some will invite you to a formal interview and ask you to complete a formal application form.   Others will invite you in for an informal chat.  This is your opportunity to find out as much as you can about the organisation and what they have to offer. It is important that you are clear about what you are asked to do.  If you have any concerns contact the CVSS National Volunteer Centre for advice.

Generally speaking, you can count of organisations to provide you with:

  1. An outline of your voluntary work/ a placement description
  2. Specialised training, if required
  3. Appropriate supervision (including regular meetings with your supervisor to discuss how things are going)
  4. Personal development opportunities

Q. How long will it take to start volunteering?

This may depend on several factors. Some organisations may be able to let you start straight away. However, if you are required to be interviewed, provide detailed references, go through an induction training course, it may be weeks before you can start. Some organisations only recruit at certain times of the year.

Q. Can volunteering help me to get a paid job?

Many people see volunteering as an effective way of preparing them for a paid job. Volunteering can provide new and improved skills, experience and personal benefits, such as increased confidence, which can assist a person to obtain a paid job. If you are looking to get a paid job through volunteering it may help you to work out what skills and experience you would like to get from your volunteering. When you approach your chosen organisation, it’s a good idea to let them know what skills you are looking to develop and what experience you are looking for as you want to make sure they are able to offer you what you want and to get the most out of your time spent volunteering.

Q. How long will I be expected to volunteer for?

It really depends on the volunteering role. Some organisations ask that you commit to volunteering for a specific period of time, such as six months or a year. This usually applies to organisations that will be investing considerable resources in training you to carry out a particular role or for specific volunteering roles such as mentoring and administrative tasks. Although most organisations will not set any minimum commitment, it is a good idea that you keep them informed about how long you will be available.

Q. How many hours will I have to do?

There is no standard volunteer commitment in terms of hours per week or month. Some organisations like a weekly commitment, others are happy to accommodate short-term volunteering. Some volunteer roles require set time commitments, such as specified hours per week. Other roles are flexible and can be organised around the availability of the volunteers concerned.

Q. Do I need qualifications to volunteer?

This depends on the nature of the placement description and requirements. Some very skilled work may require qualifications, but usually organisations will offer training to enable you to do the work. Most volunteering roles are designed to offer people the opportunity to perform a variety of tasks and learn new skills.

Q. Will my travel and other expenses be reimbursed?

Although volunteering is unpaid work, the CVSS believes that no volunteer should be out-of-pocket due to involvement in volunteering. The reality however is that most voluntary organisations run on very limited resources, and many find it necessary to set limits on the type and level of expenses that will be reimbursed. Be aware that there are a few organisations that are unable to offer expenses; this is generally due to lack of funding. It is therefore a good idea to ask an organisation their expenses policy before you start your volunteering.

Q. What if you don’t have the volunteering opportunity I’m looking for?

If what you are looking for is not available, please let us know. The CVSS/National Volunteer Centre is committed to matching volunteers to volunteering opportunities that they want, and that includes creating new opportunities where they don’t already exist. This may take a while, but we will keep you updated throughout the process. Keep in mind, there will be some activities that are not volunteering opportunities, but we will try to find you something as close to what you are looking for and with transferable skills similar to what you were looking for.   

Q. What if I don’t like the volunteering opportunity I’ve chosen?

If you don’t like your volunteering for any reason, there is no obligation to continue. But it is a good idea to let your supervisor know as soon as possible. There may be something they can do to help you enjoy your volunteering. Don’t forget, you can always come back to the Centre and do another search.

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