Volunteering through the Montreal Volunteer Bureau - FAQ

Volunteering is a commitment of time and energy doing something to benefit society and the community (individuals, groups, or a particular cause) without being paid. Voici une liste de questions fréquement posées au sujet de l'action bénévole.

Where can I volunteer?
All of our volunteer opportunities come from registered non-profit organizations (also called NGOs) in the Montreal area. We represent over 1000 such organizations which provide services in the arts, health, education, social services, sports, the environment and more.

What will I do as a volunteer?
There are many different volunteer positions. A volunteer may assist an organization's clients directly or help with administrative duties (examples - serving meals at a drop-in centre, visiting the elderly, editing content for an agency newsletter, helping to organize a special event). Volunteers do not replace paid staff.

How much time do I need to Volunteer?
Most volunteer positions ask for two to four hours a week and a minimum three-month commitment. There are also positions that are more flexible where you can volunteer for shorter periods, or, on an "on call" basis, or for special events.

Will volunteering help me find a paid job?
Volunteering can provide a chance to gain work experience in Montreal, if you are new to the city, which is often required by future employers; it may help you obtain references; it will often encourage you to practice your language skills and will provide opportunities to meet interesting people. But it will not generally lead to a job in the organization for which you are volunteering.

What is the difference between volunteering and an internship?
An internship is normally linked to an academic program and related to a specific profession, for a defined period of time. It can be offered by both non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses. It has a greater chance of leading to a paid job than volunteering.

Can I get volunteer experience in my field or profession?
It will depend on your field or profession. We only work with non-profit organizations and thus do not offer volunteer positions in for-profit businesses. Many professions are governed by Professional Orders with strict practice regulations or which require specific local knowledge (health professionals, engineers, lawyers etc) making it difficult to volunteer in these fields. There may however be ways to volunteer in a position that is related to your field to give you valuable local experience.

We encourage you to look at volunteering in an activity, for a cause or with a clientele that allows you to pursue an interest, hobby or passion, whether it is related or not to your normal work experience. The closer your volunteering is to your personal interests, the more likely it is to be a positive experience both for you and the organization.

Do I have to speak French or English well?
Depending on the type of volunteer work you choose, you will need to be able to communicate and follow directions in English or French. Some positions, such as those that require communication with the general public, or answering the telephone, will require a fluency in both English and French. There may also be limited positions where you can use your first language (if it is not English or French) or where a good command of English or French is not required.

What are the responsibilities that come with volunteering?
Once you have been accepted as a volunteer, the organization will expect you to be:

  • Punctual and Reliable - that you arrive on time on the day you have committed to.
  • Committed - that you will stay the required duration of time for the particular project or task you are involved with. 
  • Professional - that you will keep information confidential about the clients at the organization, follow the rules of the organization and represent it appropriately. 
  • Enthusiastic - that you are interested in the cause and that you share your skills and experience with the organization. 
  • Willing to learn - that you will attend all training, ask for help, help others, discuss any problems you have with the person you report to, and continue to learn about the organization. 
  • Respectful - that you will respect differences in volunteers, staff, and clients, and work as a team player. Remember that an organization's main goal is to fulfill its clients' needs, not those of the volunteers.

How to choose?
There are many volunteer positions that may fit your interests, needs and schedule.

To find a volunteer position that is right for you, you may want to consider:

  • How much time am I able to commit?
  • Would I like a long-term position or a short-term position? 
  • What are the skills, interests and experience that I would like to share? 
  • What experience am I looking to gain? 
  • What issues in the community do I think are important (e.g. environment, arts, health, etc) and how would I like to help? 
  • What location do I prefer - do I want to volunteer in my community or close to my workplace?


Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to refine your search for a volunteer position.

Good luck!