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Learn About Volunteering

Inspiration Starts Here. Find out why more than 6.3 million people in Ontario volunteer. Find Your Spark Today!

Start Volunteering and Get Sparked!

Volunteering and Accessibility

 

Understanding more about accessibility can make a big difference to the people
we want to help through volunteering and to other volunteers who have disabilities themselves.

Visit SPARK's resource page to watch an interactive video that will give you
the tools and information you need to become an Accessibility Champion!

 


 

There are many different ways people contribute their time and talent to non-profit organizations across Ontario. Through volunteering, people run fundraisers, care for animals, help kids to learn to read, build walking trails, run in events, entertain seniors and so much more.

Why Volunteer?

There are almost as many reasons why people volunteer as there are people who do it. Whether it’s because of passion for a cause, to build skills and connections, or to contribute to something larger than yourself, giving your time and talent through volunteering should feel good. Although it may not be the case for every opportunity, we also believe that volunteering should be fun!  

Getting Started

Check out our Q & A section to discover some of the things people like to know before they volunteer.  Do you have other questions about volunteering? Contact one of the 24 Volunteer Centres across Ontario. They work with organizations that use volunteers to achieve their mission. Find a Volunteer Centre near you on this map.

See Yourself in Volunteering

Check out the stories of other people who have volunteered and what impact it made in their life.

Check out the volunteering opportunities posted on SPARK Ontario. You can browse the featured opportunities on our home page or use the various filters on our Explore Volunteering page to narrow down your options. The most satisfactory volunteering opportunities are the ones that suit your needs and interests best.

Share Your Story on SPARK

Once you have spent some time at your volunteer position, come back to SPARK Ontario to share the story of YOUR volunteer experience. Who knows? You might inspire someone else to volunteer too. (Don't forget you have to join SPARK to tell your story, so log in or create your profile today!)

Q & A

Q. How much time do I have to commit in order to volunteer?

A. Every volunteer opportunity is different. The opportunities posted on SPARK Ontario will indicate if they are ongoing, short term or just one day. Whether you’re working full time and have a family with a busy schedule or you’re retired with lots of time to give, you should be able to find an opportunity on this site that sparks your interest. 

Q. Will volunteering cost me anything?

A. In most circumstances the answer is no. There may be some fundraising activities where they ask you to donate but that will always be your choice. Sometimes you may have to pay for transit or parking but many organizations offer tokens for your transportation. 

Q. Why do some of the volunteer positions require a Criminal Record Check?

A. Volunteer positions that involve direct contact with people considered ‘vulnerable’ such as children, the elderly, or people with special needs, may require their volunteers to provide a clean criminal record check. If this could pose a problem for you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t volunteer; it just means that you may not be able to volunteer for that particular position. Keep searching for a volunteer position that is right for you!

Q. What if there’s an organization I’d like to volunteer with but they don’t have any positions posted, or the positions they do have aren’t quite right for me?

A. If you’ve got an idea about how your special talents could add value to an organization, contact them and tell them about how you’d like to contribute to the organization’s goals. You can start your own volunteering adventure!

Q. I’m a little shy and I don’t want to volunteer on my own. Can I volunteer with a friend or family member?

A. Short answer - YES! More accurate answer – it depends!

Every opportunity is different. Non-profit organizations are aware that some people do like to volunteer in pairs or groups and do their best to accommodate.  However some roles are skill-specific and there may only be a need for one person. If you really want to volunteer with a friend, look for opportunities that are one day events such as a charity run or festival. Keep in mind, however, that one of the best aspects of volunteering is the opportunity to mix with people outside of your usual networks. 

Q. I’m really good at accounting / marketing / carpentry. How can I use those skills in a volunteer position?

A. Specialized skills can be a great help for agencies big and small.  Take a look at the Interests area of SPARK’s search function, to see if you can find the activity that best suits your talents.

Some volunteers love to use the skills they’ve developed while others want to challenge themselves by trying something new.  It’s your choice. Isn’t volunteering awesome?!

Q. What is Virtual Volunteering?

A. Virtual Volunteering happens when you can support an organization from the comfort of your own home by completing tasks on your computer or mobile device. It can also mean volunteer opportunities you can complete in your community such as fundraising and awareness raising campaigns. If this interests you, be sure to select the Virtual Volunteering option within the search fields on SPARK.

Q. How do I know if a volunteer role is right for me?

A. Your time and talents are valuable so if you’re devoting them to an organization through volunteering, a great trade-off is the joy you derive from it. Sometimes a role can take a little time to get the hang of, so try it out a few times before you make any decisions to change it or move on. If you do decide to leave, just remember to give proper notice so the organization has time to find a replacement. Then come back to SPARK armed with your new knowledge, and search again.

Q. I’ve found a volunteer role that I want to apply for. What do I do next?

A. Most of the volunteer positions on SPARK will include instructions on how to apply. Some will require a resume, while others may require you to fill out an application form.

Non-profit organizations that follow good volunteer management practices often take the time to meet with you to discuss the details of the position, the culture and mission of their organization and to find out what you would like to gain from your volunteer efforts with them. It might seem like a bit of a process, but more and more, non-profit organizations understand that taking the time to ensure that volunteers are well-matched with the organization and the opportunity makes the experience better for everyone.

If you are unsuccessful, don’t despair! All that means is that the organization and the role was not right for you. Come back to SPARK and search again. You’re bound to find lots of opportunities that *spark* your inner volunteer.

Q. I had the most AMAZING volunteer experience of all time and I want to shout it from the mountaintops! How can I share my experience?

A. Here at Spark we’d LOVE to hear your volunteering story.  In fact, we’ve created a platform for people to spread their volunteering joy in the form of story.  Read the stories here.

You can also let people know about it through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform you like to use. This increases awareness for the organization you volunteered with, raises the profile of volunteerism in general AND helps you look like a philanthropic rock star!  

Q. If I’ve had a really bad volunteer experience, can I post my story to this site?

A. This site is about positivity and amazing volunteer experiences so it’s not the right forum to vent your frustrations. We recommend you feed back to the organization to see if the situation can be improved or if you really don’t want to stay, to help them improve their volunteer experience for the next person. Please do come back to SPARK to search again. There are so many opportunities that you are bound to find something that suits you better. 

Your Stories

One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows ...

Spark Plugs

Great stuff from around the world. Check back often to see what's new!

One student’s SPARK to make a difference continues to inspire the students of a Sudbury high school 20 years later! Check out the amazing tribute to this brave young student and the impact it has made on her school and her community.

Wonder what youth REALLY think about volunteering? Check out these youth bloggers who share their experiences. 

Check out how this mother describes the impact on her kidswhen they help deliver hot meals for seniors. Doing Good Together: Delivering Smiles 

Want to help your kids feel the SPARK? Check out these free printables from Doing Good Together to encourage acts of kindness you and your family can do right now!

Are you thinking about volunteering as a family this year? Check out Volunteer Canada's Building Blocks for Family Volunteering to get started.

Are you curious about what it takes to be a volunteer board member? The DiverseCity onBoard program offers online training for people from visible minorities or under-represented communities then helps to match them with a nonprofit or charity. Check it out here.

Want to volunteer abroad? Check out Verge Magazine to find out more!

Another great Ted Talk by Tuan Nguyen, an entrepreneur and ‘accidental philanthropist’.

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Have we missed something great? If so, let us know!