Volunteer Centres


Volunteer Centres

Volunteer Centres : An Untapped Resource

During the summer of 2020, while adapting to the impact of COVID-19, volunteer centres from across Canada came together in solidarity to speak up on how meaningful volunteerism is enabled. The result is this open letter intended to inform community, government and business decision-makers as well as the general public about the essential role volunteer centres play across Canadian communities. Each volunteer centre will use the letter and the messages it contains in ways that are most appropriate to its own context and community.

Canadian Volunteer Centre Network

Volunteer Canada works in partnership with the Canadian Volunteer Centre Network, which includes local volunteer centres and provincial associations of volunteer centres, to strengthen volunteering and citizen engagement. Beyond working in their own communities, volunteer centres recognize that they can have a greater impact as a larger network of more than 150 volunteer centres and provincial/territorial associations of volunteer centres. The Canadian Volunteer Centre Network strengthens volunteer centres, individually and collectively, to better promote volunteering, provide leadership on volunteer engagement and make connections in their own communities and across Canada. Establishing a common voice and building a cohesive knowledge base strengthens volunteering and increases the impact of volunteer centres locally, provincially and nationally. 

Do you represent a local volunteer centre and would like to build relationships with other centres across the country? Are you looking to create a local volunteer centre in your area and could use some information? Contact us! We would love to work with you. [email protected] or 613-231-4371 or toll-free 1-800-670-0401

How to find a local volunteer centre

Use the volunteer centre directory or consult the organizations below to find a volunteer centre near you:


  • Volunteer Alberta: Volunteer Alberta is an inclusive member association serving and representing Alberta’s diverse nonprofit organizations. They are a voice for the value of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector, encouraging participation and collaboration that contributes to the common good in Alberta.

British Columbia

  • Volunteer BC: Volunteer BC Works with various partners and serve all members of the public who want to volunteer and be engaged in their community through meaningful and productive volunteer opportunities.


  • OVCN: OVCN provides a provincial network and voice to strengthen the individual and collective ability of Volunteer Centres in Ontario, to promote and develop volunteerism.


  • JeBenevole.ca: JeBenevole is the provincial platform that matches volunteer centres and non-profit organizations with volunteers. (French website only)
  • Fédération des centres d'action bénévole du Québec: Its mission is to mobilize, support and represent volunteer centres to encourage the promotion, recognition and development of diverse practices of volunteer action in communities. (French website only)

National Volunteer Centre Definition

Volunteer Centres, as defined by Volunteer Canada, are organizations which:

  1. Either
    1. Have non-profit status preferably with registered charitable status or have a ‘qualified donee1’ status (as defined by the Charities Division of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) OR
    2. Are hosted by a non-profit status organization preferably with registered charitable status.
      If b. , the organization must have:
      1.  An advisory committee and / or terms of reference clearly indicating a mandate to promote volunteerism to the entire community, and how this will be accomplished within the structure of the host organization; and
      2. The word “volunteer” contained in the name of the volunteer centre or its host organization; and
      3. A designated person responsible for the Volunteer Centre; and
      4. A separate budget for the Volunteer Centre.
  2. Are eligible for membership with their provincial Volunteer Centre body (where they exist);
  3. Have a statement of purpose (mission/ mandate/ vision) that aligns with the national definition.

National Definition: Volunteer Centres exist primarily to foster and develop volunteerism in the community as a whole. Volunteer Centres engage in four general kinds of activities:

  • Promoting Volunteerism
    Volunteer Centres raise awareness of the power of service, encourage people to volunteer, provide information about volunteerism and recognize the contribution of volunteers. Some examples include celebrating National Volunteer Week and conducting volunteer fairs.
  • Building Capacity for Effective Local Volunteering
    Volunteer Centres help voluntary sector organizations, and other groups and individuals that work with volunteers, do a better job recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers. Some examples include offering training programs, one to one consultations, and providing support to organizations that work with volunteers.
  • Providing Leadership on Issues Relating to Volunteerism
    Volunteer Centres serve as a convenor for the community and a catalyst for action. They work through local partnerships and collaborations with various groups and organizations, government, schools, and community leaders to identify needs and mobilize volunteer response. Some examples include speaking on behalf of volunteers, convening or participating on committees & collaborations, and advising volunteers of community needs.
  • Connecting People with Opportunities to Serve
    Volunteer Centres provide people with easy access to a wide variety of opportunities to connect to their community through service. Some examples include targetting programs for special populations, offering recruitment and referral services, and managing direct services involving volunteers.

This definition was drafted by a special working group of volunteer centres, circulated to Canadian volunteer centres for input,
and formally adopted by the Board of Directors of Volunteer Canada on September 30, 2001.

1 Under the Income Tax Act, qualified donees are organizations that can issue official donation receipts for gifts that individuals and corporations make to them (including municipalities).