Volunteer Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Volunteering is unpaid activity that is willingly done for the benefit of a person or organization (Bocsi et al., 2017). Students volunteer for a variety of reasons that can typically be categorized as altruistic (e.g., helping others), utilitarian (e.g., skill building or personal growth), or social motivations (e.g., making friends or networking) (Handy et al., 2010). Youth involvement in volunteerism provides early opportunities for civic engagement and offers long-term benefits, including fewer risk-taking behaviours and better mental health in adulthood (Ballard et al., 2019).

The Learning Bar’s framework on student engagement includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. The time variables, such as Volunteering, are a component of social engagement, situated alongside participation in sports and clubs, sense of belonging and making positive friendships at school.

Why is it important?

  • Adolescent volunteering is positively associated with one’s future level of education and personal earnings (Kim & Morgül, 2017).

  • Students who volunteer regularly during adolescence are more likely to volunteer as adults (Moorfoot et al., 2015).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL secondary school survey, students are asked about how much time they spend volunteering in a typical week. The results are reported as “the percentage of students who are volunteering each week.”



Ballard, P. J., Hoyt, L. T., & Pachucki, M. C. (2019). Impacts of adolescent and young adult civic engagement on health and socioeconomic status in adulthood. Child Development, 90(4), 1138-1154.

Bocsi, V., Fényes, H., & Markos, V. (2017). Motives of volunteering and values of work among higher education students. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 16(2), 117-131.

Handy, F., Hustinx, L., Kang, C., Cnaan, R. A., Brudney, J. L., Haski-Leventhal, Holmes, K., Meijs, L. C. P. M., Pessi A. B., Ranade, B., Yamauchi, N., & Zrinscak, S. (2010). A cross-cultural examination of student volunteering: Is it all about résumé building? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 39(3), 498-523.

Kim, J., & Morgül, K. (2017). Long-term consequences of youth volunteering: Voluntary versus involuntary service. Social Science Research, 67, 160-175.

Moorfoot, N., Leung, R. K., Toumbourou, J. W., & Catalano, R. F. (2015). The longitudinal effects of adolescent volunteering on secondary school completion and adult volunteering. International Journal of Developmental Science, 9(3-4), 115-123.