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What Is Voluntary Work?

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Voluntary work includes activities or responsibilities that you take on without obligation or payment. Volunteers contribute time and experience to nonprofit organizations and charities for both altruistic and self-serving purposes.

Volunteer vs. Intern

In some cases, people confuse volunteers with unpaid interns. A volunteer completes unpaid work with civic intent, and without expectation of significant personal gain. Though it is less common than it used to be for organizations to have unpaid interns, some people do use unpaid internships to gain professional experience. An intern expects the unpaid work to provide direct career skills that contribute to future employment opportunities. However, an employer doesn't guarantee future employment with an unpaid internship.

Benefits of Volunteering

Personal satisfaction is a common motive for people of all ages to volunteer. Retired people often volunteer to give back and to stay active in their communities. Along with the personal satisfaction of giving to society, volunteering provides other benefits. In lieu of work experience, many young people point to volunteer experiences and skills acquired during interviews. Hard work, teamwork, leadership, coordination and listening are just a handful of skills you may develop through volunteer work. People sometimes make personal and professional connections by volunteering that add to their network of contacts.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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