No Poverty

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Situating Volunteer Work and Volunteering in Theory and Practice

Living reference work entry



Volunteer work (volunteering) is generally viewed as a helping activity in which people engage willingly, without any form of coercion or mandate from a government. The International Labour Organization (ILO 2020) notes volunteer work includes activities performed willingly and without pay to produce goods or provide services for others outside the volunteer’s household or family. The ILO identifies two kinds of volunteer work:
  1. 1.

    Direct volunteer work, which is done to help other people directly (e.g. a neighbour, a friend, a stranger, nature);

  2. 2.

     Organization-based volunteer work, which is done through or for an organization, community or group.

Broader definitions of volunteering link the motivation for undertaking the activity with altruism and emphasize that the volunteer has no expectation of remuneration or other immediate and tangible personal benefits accruing to the volunteer. On this point the ILO note that a main...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences, Humanitarian and Development StudiesWestern Sydney University AustraliaSydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bankole Awuzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Built EnvironmentCentral University of TechnologyBloemfonteinSouth Africa