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Principles of Volunteering

Four girls, volunteering with the Fire brigade, wearing fire fighter gear, with yellow helmets, smiling

Principles of Volunteering

In January 2009, the London Stakeholders Volunteering Forum came together with guest stakeholders to discuss the definition of volunteering.

The Compact code on Volunteering currently defines volunteering as

“any activity which involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives, or to benefit the environment.”

In response to an increasing interest in volunteering as a means to support people (back) into employment, and some clarity required around the differences between volunteering and work experience, the Forum felt it necessary to establish the principles behind the term ‘volunteering’.


These principles will guide the volunteering infrastructure (members of the Forum) in providing support to volunteering activity.

In addition, the Forum notes the following considerations when developing a volunteering opportunity:

For example, a large employer supplying employees to support the development of small businesses are part of a mentoring scheme. Employees should be referred to as ‘mentors’ and the programme as a ‘mentoring scheme’. Voluntary work as a term might be applied, but volunteering may not.

Principles of Volunteering

The Principles of Volunteering have been endorsed by the following organisations:

Advice UK

Age UK

Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM)

Greater London Authority (GLA)

Imperial College London

Independent Academic Resarch Studies (IARS)

Jewish Care

London Museums Hub

Mentoring & Befriending Foundation


Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT)


Safer London Foundation


Sport England


Universal Beneficient Society (UBS)

University College London Hospital Foundation Trust (UCLH)

Volunteering England

Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO)

West London Network

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