Module 1


Why volunteering is important? Personal benefits of volunteering and peer support

The issue of the integration and of limited opportunities of migrant women is not a new issue nowadays. Volunteering represents an essential vehicle for them to develop new skills and acquire knowledge, to create networks, bringing benefits on both professional and personal level.


This module provides information on what volunteering is, it’s importance as well as how migrant women can benefit from being volunteers.


Our aim is to help reinforce this concept and provide useful references.

  • Learning the meaning of volunteering, volunteer and volunteering providers.
  • Understanding the importance of volunteering in terms of individual, community or society development.
  • Identifying the benefits of attending a volunteering programme.
  • Discovering how to find the right opportunity of volunteering.

Approximate reading time for the module, without taking into account suggested resources and further reading, is about 2 hours.


The learners don’t need to already have particular knowledge or skills. The learners will need a computer with an internet connection and sheet of paper and a pen to take notes. 


It is advisable that the learners consult the reference material and thus deepen the information provided.


Volunteering is an important part of a thriving civil society, contributing to its development and its prosperity. The access to volunteering opportunities should represent a right, not a privilege. Everyone has the right to volunteer anywhere in the world and in order to foster a culture of participation, personal and responsible development, volunteers need to be given the access to as well as the encouragement to engage in volunteering activities.

Definition of a volunteer

A volunteer is a person who carries out activities benefiting society, by free will. These activities are undertaken for a nonprofit cause, benefiting the personal development of the volunteer, who commits their time and energy for the general good without financial reward.


Definition of volunteering activity

Volunteering represents the activity that is undertaken for a non-profit cause and does not replace paid staff. The activity can be done within the framework of a volunteering provider or through a volunteer’s own initiative.


Definition of volunteering providers

Volunteering providers are non–profit organizations and groups that are independent and self- governing as well as other non–profit entities, such as public authorities. They are active in the public arena and their activity must be aimed, at least in part, at contributing to the public’s good.

The European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers presents the rights and responsibilities of the volunteers, but also those of the providers. 

The value of volunteering is identifiable on two major dimensions: the individual development of people involved in volunteering and the development of communities and society as a whole.


The contribution of volunteering to INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT is reflected in the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities transferable to the labor market, in the potential of volunteering as a lifelong learning opportunity, in cultivating social skills such as confidence, tolerance, self-esteem, respect for diversity.


The contribution of volunteering to the DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITIES is reflected in solving local problems by financial contribution with the work of volunteers, facilitating social cohesion by bringing people together for a common goal, facilitating social integration and combating the risk of social exclusion of vulnerable social groups.


The contribution of volunteering to the DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY as a whole is reflected in cultivating interpersonal trust and increasing the level of social capital, putting intro practice the European values of solidarity, tolerance and social cohesion, being a form of active aging and active citizenship.


Any involvement in volunteering involves a form of social learning, even if it is often unaware. Involvement in volunteer activities develops a range of social skills and competences, such as: solidarity, tolerance, trust, civic spirit and social responsibility.

The benefits of volunteering can be numerous, because it means more than carrying on several activities. It means new experiences and opportunities for the volunteers, bringing, at the same time, a positive impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place.


  1. Volunteering means connecting with new people
    Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, extend your network, and develop your social skills. In other words, volunteering represents a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities. More than this, the opportunity to practice and develop your communication and interpersonal skills arises. You will socialize more, you will be more active, spending you time in a pleasant and useful manner, you will become part of a team, because volunteering builds bridges between people.


  2. Volunteering promotes well-being and mental health
    Volunteering can contribute to eliminating the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, promoting, at the same time, well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person or a group of persons. More than this, volunteering can combat depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others, helping at the development of a solid support system.


    By doing good to others and contributing to the community, volunteers get a natural sense of accomplishment and their self-confidence increases. Having an important role can also provide a sense of pride and identity to the volunteer, feeling better about themselves, and having a positive view of their life and future goals. Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, especially to people coming from vulnerable groups.


  3. Volunteering brings career opportunities
    Even if you have professional experience or not, volunteering gives you this opportunity which involves practicing the most important and required workplace skills, such as: teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization, providing at the same time extensive training for volunteers.  More than this, it represents a great method to gain experience, which will bring great value to your CV.


  4. Volunteering to explore interests and passions
    Volunteering can also be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments, providing volunteers with creativity, motivation, and vision.

    While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day, and has a remarkable educational value.

  5. Goals and values of volunteering
    1. Increase Engagement
      • Gives people the opportunity to put action to their values
      • Enables others to see, discuss, and take action
    2. Increase Empathy
      • Directly connecting with the needs of the community
      • Identifying volunteering as a value
    3. Increase Awareness
      • Awareness of the world as we all impact our world together
      • Be part of something greater than yourself

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available, but the most important aspect is to find an area or a position that you are interested in, that you like and you will enjoy while carrying out the activities. You can ask yourself, as a future volunteer, the following questions:

  • Would you like to work with adults, children, animals, or remotely from home?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?
  • Consider your goals and interests


Your experience as a volunteer will be more meaningful, if you first take some time to identify your goals and interests. The opportunity will be useful, enjoyable and fulfilling if your goals and interests will match with the volunteering programme. 

Where to find volunteer opportunities?

  • Nongovernmental organizations;
  • Community theaters, museums;
  • Children or elderly centres;
  • Orphanages;
  • Churches;
  • Teaching in schools;
  • Sport events;
  • Women’s empowerment projects;
  • Homeless shelter;
  • Hospitals;
  • Activities for the handicapped;
  • Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, or wildlife centers;
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs.
  • Historical restorations, national parks, and conservation organizations.
  • Online volunteering.

In this module, we provide migrant women with significant information about volunteering and its importance, but also what are the benefits of being involved as a volunteer which can lead to an inspiring motivation to access volunteering opportunities in the communities they belong to. 

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Define volunteering and to emphasize its importance;
  • Identify the benefits of attending a volunteering programme;
  • Acknowledge how to find the right opportunities of volunteering.


  • Colin Rochester, Angela Ellis Payne & Steven Howlett (2010), Volunteering in the 21st century, Palgrave MacMillan, United Kingdom
  • Paul Dekker & Loek Halman (2003), The Values of Volunteering: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Plenum Publishers, New York
  • Susanne Strauß (2008), Volunteering and social inclusion, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Germany

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein