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To volunteer means to provide your time, talents and energy to an organisation, a cause, a group or with individuals for free. You do not need to have a particular value system or particular set of skills in order to volunteer. There are thousands of ways in which you can volunteer and no matter what your availability or skill set or background, there is an opportunity out there which will suit you. Take a look at the Trinity Volunteer Charter for some guidelines.

Scroll the menu on the left to find out more about the different ways you can volunteer on campus, in the local community and abroad.


Volunteer with Children in Sunshine House Volunteering at Sunshine House

Why volunteer in the first place?

The value of volunteering is multi-dimensional both for you and the cause for which you work.

Value for You

  • Get that feel-good factor & sense of achievement
  • Make a difference for a cause close to your heart
  • Develop skills and confidence
  • Improve your motivation
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Broaden your horizons
  • Explore possible career paths
  • Meet new people
  • Have fun
  • Sense of community and belonging
  • Keep busy and active
  • Chance to travel

Value for your CV

  • Gain practical experience in your field
  • Develop insight into societal structures, issues and problems
  • Prove your ability to self-motivate
  • Develop transferable skills (teamwork, adaptability, organisation etc.)
  • Develop specific skills set (IT, caring, teaching etc.)
  • Have a reference from organisation with whom you volunteered
  • Network with potential future employers

Value for the Volunteer Group or Organisation

  • Benefits from diverse perspectives
  • Increase in capacity through manpower
  • Increased skills set within the organisation
  • Improved ability to generate funds
  • Heightened awareness among volunteers' family, peers etc.
  • Greater credibility through volunteer support and engagement

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Do I have rights as a volunteer?

Yes, as a volunteer, you have the following rights:

  • To know if, and how, you are being selected.
  • To be provided with a description of the volunteering role and what is expected.
  • To be given meaningful work to do.
  • To be offered appropriate training.
  • To be thanked and have your contribution recognised
  • To confidentiality- your records and references will remain confidential.
  • To receive supervision and support.
  • To get something out of the work for yourself as per your own aims and objectives.
  • To know who to go to should a problem arise.
  • To have concerns or questions dealt with promptly.
  • To be given reasonable notice if there is a change of schedule.
  • To make mistakes and learn from them.
  • To be made aware of any disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • To be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and not to experience discrimination.
  • To have safe working conditions, including insurance cover provided by the volunteer project
  • To be informed about, and given the opportunity to play an active part in, the organisation as a whole.
  • Where possible, to have out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed.
  • To be able to say 'no' and to leave without feeling guilty.

This information above is adapted from Volunteering Ireland's Charter for Effective Volunteering.

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What are my responsibilities?

Not only do you have rights which should be respected, you should also uphold the following responsibilities:

  • To obtain information the volunteering project and role and reflect on your motivations before making a commitment to volunteer.
  • To be honest in all your dealings with an organisation, particularly if you may not be suited for work with certain client groups.
  • As a representative of the volunteering project, to respect its values, aims, staff and clients.
  • To carry out the prescribed volunteer duties to the best of your ability.
  • To comply with relevant policies of the volunteer project e.g. Code of Conduct, Health & Safety etc.
  • To adopt a professional approach and maintain appropriate boundaries with any client groups.
  • To be punctual and reliable and give the organisation sufficient warning if unable to turn up.
  • To attend essential training and support sessions.
  • To act and dress appropriately.
  • To respect the confidentiality of the volunteer project and associated persons.
  • To provide constructive feedback to the volunteering project.
  • To ask for guidance if you are unsure of any aspect of your volunteering role
  • To inform the volunteer project manager or supervisor if there is a problem.
  • To leave when asked and/or when no longer enjoying the volunteering experience
  • To give advance notice to the volunteer project if you intend to leave the project- absenteeism is not an appropriate alternative.
  • To abide by the TCD Dignity & Respect Policy where applicable.
  • As always, to respect the law and any relevant College regulations.

This information above is adapted from Volunteering Ireland's Charter for Effective Volunteering.

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What can I expect from my volunteer project?

You are entitled to research and select a volunteering opportunity which is suited to your interests, goals, schedule and other needs. Similarly, a volunteer project has the right to look for certain qualities and skills in volunteers which match the organisation's values and requirements. Volunteer recruitment is often done by means an application form, interview process, induction session, the checking of references and your CV or any combination of these. Organisations through which volunteers have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable persons should also require volunteers to undergo Garda vetting (criminal record check) prior to any such unsupervised access. Other volunteer projects who work with children and/or vulnerable populations may also require this as a matter of good practice. Due to backlogs in the system, the Garda vetting process may take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks.

Once you begin to volunteer, your project or organisation should provide insurance cover for your activity and ensure that your rights as a volunteer (above) are upheld at all times. They should provide you with a clear role description, details of what training is provided, as well as copies of any relevant policies (claiming expenses, child protection, protection of vulnerable adults, grievance, health & safety etc.). If you are working with a particular client group, you should also discuss appropriate boundaries with your organisation in order to prevent any client from becoming overly dependent on you and vice versa. There should be a designated person in the organisation who deals with volunteers on your project and who should be available to offer you guidance and information should you require it. You should also feel comfortable approaching other persons in the organisation in case the volunteer liaison person is not available or not an appropriate contact for your particular concern or query.

It is important that both you and your organisation are satisfied with, and benefit from your volunteering experience. It is in the interest of your volunteering projects to ensure that you have a positive and rewarding experience. If you have a problem, then you should be honest about this and discuss how this might be resolved with the appointed volunteer liaison person. If you choose to leave your volunteer project, communicate this to the volunteer liaison person in advance. Equally, the organisation is allowed to address any grievance in a fair manner and may ask volunteers to leave if their involvement hinders the organisation achieving its goals.

This information above is adapted from Volunteering Ireland's Charter for Effective Volunteering.

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Last updated 29 September 2014 Civic Engagement (Email).