Volunteer Now - Developing Volunteering

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Developing Volunteering

The guiding principles of 'volunteering' are set out within its definition and it is this which is the litmus test for determining what activities fall within and outside its boundaries i.e. benefit of society, unpaid, carried out outside (in addition to) immediate family and done freely and by choice.

Volunteering Definition

‘Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy, for the benefit of society and the community, the environment, or individuals outside (or in addition to) one’s immediate family. It is unpaid and undertaken freely and by choice’.

(Volunteering Strategy for Northern Ireland- Department for Social Development, 2012)

The unique quality of volunteering, as an activity, is its ability to shape and change itself to the needs of the community. Volunteer Now also recognises the world around us is in a constant state of change and for this reason it is important to take time to consider activities which are labeled as volunteering and test whether they meet the above principles.

Below is an outline of Volunteer Now’s view on the appropriateness of volunteering in the private sector and our understanding of the term 'job substitution'.

 1. Volunteering in Private Organisations


  • Volunteer Now considers that the majority of volunteering will take place in the voluntary, community and public sectors, however it recognises that in some instances volunteers may carry out certain roles in the private sector and in such cases we would support this if all of the following principles are in place:-
  • The role meets the definition of volunteering in particular people can choose to volunteer and there is clear benefit to society, community, the environment or an individual.
  • The roles carried out by volunteers add value to the work of the organisation in ways that do not contribute to profits except where profits are for community benefit.
  • Volunteers are enhancing what is done by paid staff and are not in any way carrying out duties of paid staff or displacing roles that would normally be paid for.
  • There is a clear value base and good practice in volunteer management framework in place to effectively support volunteer involvement.

2. Volunteers and Job Substitution


  • Volunteer Now recognises that volunteer involvement needs to be reactive to social change. Volunteer Now believes that volunteering roles add value to the work of an organisation and in many instances volunteers are instrumental in delivering the actual services. Where paid staff are involved, volunteers should enhance what is done by them and not carry out duties of paid staff or displace roles that would normally be paid for. Volunteer involvement works best when there are good procedures, clarity of roles, mutual trust and support between paid staff and volunteers


This section of the website also signposts to other parts of the website which can provides a range of information for organisations looking to boost their volunteer recruitment or target specific types of people as volunteers.  The Timebanking section provides information about a new model of community participation. Please click on the links below for more information: