What Should You Do During the Summer? Volunteer!

If you're asking yourself, "what should I do during the summer?", you should think about volunteering! Giving your time and energy to a charity or non-profit is one of the best things you can do for your community and yourself.

Why should I volunteer?

Wondering why you should volunteer your time if you're not getting paid? Here are five of the most common reasons people volunteer:

1. Giving back

Probably the most common reason people volunteer is to give back to their community. Maybe you've benefitted from a non-profit organization, or know somebody that has. Maybe you can see the good a local charity is doing for vulnerable people in your neighbourhood.

Did you know? According to Volunteer.ca, "more than half of Canada's non-profit and charitable organizations have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers." This means the organizations in your community need people like you to continue their great work!

2. Personal growth

Another reason many people volunteer is to build character. You'll take on responsibilities and come to learn more about yourself. You'll gain more control over your emotions and desires while pushing back against any tendencies toward procrastination. After all, plenty of people will depend on you!

3. Make connections

When volunteering, you'll meet all sorts of people you'd never meet otherwise — people from across the demographic spectrum. More importantly, these connections will be meaningful, built on a foundation of mutual trust and dedication to a project or cause. You'll develop respect and strong friendships, knowing you're working together for a common good.

4. Explore your interests and skills

It's hard to know what to study in school, what careers you might want to pursue, and even what hobbies are worth your time. The only way to find out is to experiment! By expanding your horizons while volunteering, you'll learn more about your interests, skills, and capabilities than you might otherwise. You may even discover a hidden aptitude you wouldn't expect!

5. Sharpen your resumé and improve scholarship applications

Volunteering looks good on your resumé, and it's one of the most important factors that scholarship administrators evaluate to decide who will win grants and awards. Volunteering shows you're responsible and dedicated, and that you're able to commit to people and causes outside yourself. These are admirable traits for any employee or scholarship recipient, which makes volunteering an excellent addition to any resumé or application.

Volunteering benefits everyone! Volunteer Canada has shared this wheel showing the many perks of volunteering for everyone involved:

Volunteer Canada Value of Volunteering Wheel

How can I decide what volunteer role is right for me?

With so many volunteering opportunities in Canada, you might feel overwhelmed trying to decide which organization or charity you should approach — and just what you might want to do with them.

Think about your own life experiences: have you or a loved one been helped by a community organization? Is there a nearby food bank that could use a hand? You may want to give back to a local charity that's doing good work in your area or that you have experience with already.

If that's not a good fit for you, ask yourself a few of the following questions to help narrow down the type of organization and role you may enjoy:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I care most about?
  • How can I improve my community?
  • What experiences do I want to have?

If you're still stuck, Volunteer.ca has you covered with its What Kind of Volunteer Are You? quiz. Answer about a dozen short questions and the quiz will help you identify what roles and organizations might fit you best!

How can I volunteer from home?

If you live in an isolated area, or you don't have much in the way of transporation choices, volunteering might be difficult for you. This doesn't mean it's impossible!

Virtual volunteering options

Post-pandemic, many organizations have need for virtual volunteers on everything from grant application writing to Zoom visits with seniors.

Volunteer Canada has a page dedicated to virtual volunteering opportunities across Canada. You'll find links to openings as well as advice on filtering search results from various volunteer centres across the country. Don't let your location stop you from contributing to your community!

Volunteer centres across Canada

If virtual volunteering doesn't appeal to you — maybe you've got your share of screen time already — you can get in touch with your local volunteer centre. Volunteer centres are non-profits that help pair prospective volunteers like you with charities and community groups that need your help.

You can try googling "volunteer [your area]" to find a local volunteer centre, or check out the list below to get started.

Your local volunteer centre can help you with more information on nearby opportunities and work with you to assess the best volunteer position for you.

Best of luck on your rewarding volunteer journey! By volunteering, you're sure to improve the lives of those around you — and your own. Have fun!

Find a volunteer centre near you