1 female and 2 males smiling waving at camera in amongst donations

Volunteering options

Up for a fun, challenging new experience? Help others and your career by volunteering.

What is volunteering

Chances are you’ve already volunteered at some point. Ever worn a funny costume to raise money on Red Nose Day or done a sponsored run, swim, dance or leg wax? Think of any experience where you’ve given a bit of your own time for a good cause.

Volunteering can help your career too. If you do not have much work experience or you’re after a change, it’s a way to learn new skills. You’ll also build your confidence and meet lots of new people.

Finding a placement which fits you and helps you develop is the important part and we're here to help you find the perfect volunteering option for you.

5 things to help you pick the right voluntary placement

speech bubbles from people

1. Contacts

Who will you meet? Consider if they can help you build your network or provide a reference.

Briefcase

2. The experience

What do you want to get from it? The right placement will give you valuable, relevant experience and can help you develop your skills.

3. Time

You can find placements for anything from a few months to a few hours. Decide how much time you can give.

target with person

4. Your strengths

Try to find a role which suits your strengths. You’ll enjoy it more if it plays to your natural talents.

magnify glass

5. Expectations

Find out what they want you to do. Is there training or a qualification involved?

Types of volunteering

There are lots of different ways to volunteer. You just need to know where to look and we're here to help you do that. 

Find opportunities near me

Your local Volunteer Centre can help. Their advisers can chat to you about what you want to do, and help you find a role to suit you.

You can also try:

Volunteers aged 16 to 30

Project Scotland matches you with a placement, where you can develop skills and make a positive contribution in your community.

The Saltire Awards are the Scottish Government's way of celebrating, recognising and rewarding young volunteers in Scotland. You can gain nationally-recognised certificates, signed by Scottish Government Ministers, for the volunteering you do.

If you volunteer through either of these schemes, you can also bag some Young Scot Rewards points.

Volunteering abroad

You can also find out more information about gap years on our site.

Sports and culture

  • Try the Sport Scotland website to find opportunities in your area, local teams and organisations.
  • Contact museums in your local area, or your local council or arts organisation.
  • The National Museums Scotland website also has information on the roles available with their venues.

Health and wellbeing

If you want to get a bit of experience in the health sector, you can volunteer with the NHS. If your interest is in mental health, SAMH has volunteer vacancies across the country.

Big events

Events like fun days, bucket collections, festivals and sponsored walks need lots of volunteers to help visitors, answer questions and give directions. Volunteer Scotland also lets you find opportunities linked to events like this.

If there's a particular charity you're interested in, browse their website or get in touch to find out what’s coming up.

Find a volunteering opportunity
4 people round a puzzle

Developing your skills

One benefit of volunteering is that it helps you learn new skills. Learn more about your skills, how you can develop them and demonstrate these to employers.

Learn more about skills
male and female in front of clipboard

Experience and references for your CV and applications

Another benefit of volunteering is that it gives you referees for your CV and job applications. Learn how to lay out your CV and job applications with your experience.

Build a CV

Volunteering while on benefits

You can volunteer while receiving benefits as long as you’re not getting paid for it and you’re still able to satisfy all of the conditions of your benefit. For your volunteering to be recognised, you must be volunteering for an organisation or group. We've got some information that may answer your questions. 

How many hours can I volunteer for?

There’s no limit to the number of hours you can volunteer if you’re receiving benefits, as long as you can still spend the amount of time that you’ve agreed to on searching for a job.

What to I need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)?

You must tell your work coach what volunteering you’re going to do before you start doing it. You’ll need to tell them how many hours you plan to volunteer, what you’ll be doing and when the volunteering will take place. You’ll need to provide evidence of your volunteering too and keep your work coach up-to-date if your hours change.

What if I’m offered a job interview or a job while I am volunteering?

You must be willing and able to:

  • attend a job interview on being given 48 hours notice
  • start work on being given a week’s notice
  • rearrange or give up your volunteering to start a job if you cannot fit your volunteering around the job
  • attend an interview connected with your job search

Can I claim expenses?

Yes. You may be entitled to expenses for travel, childcare costs and meals. What expenses are available depends on the organisation you’re volunteering for.

What if I do not have to look for work because I am ill or have a disability?

Volunteering should not affect:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments

You can find information on Citizens Advice Scotland and Gov.uk.

If in doubt, ask a careers adviser, staff at your local volunteer centre or a Jobcentre Plus adviser.