Volunteering Section – Frequently Asked Questions

Aim: To inspire young people to make a meaningful contribution within their communities, influence change, and shape the world they want to live in. 

What makes an activity Volunteering and not a Skill?

Each section has specific aims, principles and outcomes that each participant’s activity needs to be based around. These are set out in The Handbook for DofE Leaders and are also available as participant resources on the Resources Centre.

There are many places where you can look for volunteering opportunities. These include:


Can participants volunteer at home for a family member?

Yes, volunteering at home or for a family member is an appropriate activity for some young people and can be used for their Volunteering section. The temporary change introduced due to Covid-19 highlighted that participants could still find opportunities that mattered to them within their households. This flexibility empowers Leaders to approve meaningful opportunities to support young people with additional needs, young carers, those on probation or participants who can demonstrate that the opportunities align with the outcomes of the section. This change is to be used only in exceptional circumstances based on the needs of the individual.

I have found a great opportunity but realised that the organisation is a business. Can I volunteer even though they aren’t a charity?

In most cases, businesses cannot offer volunteering opportunities as they are not organisations established for civic benefit but for profit – it may be that this opportunity better meets the Skills section. However, we also recognise that several types of businesses can clearly demonstrate civic good and offer impactful volunteering experiences. In these circumstances, this is permissible. These businesses should be able to demonstrate that they offer volunteering opportunities in line with the outcomes of the section. Apart from expenses, the participants must not be paid and only be present in a supporting role, not part of any required staffing ratios.

We have developed a Volunteering Framework to help Leaders support participants with their choices.

Can I volunteer for a profit-making organisation even if I am under 14?

Participants can start their Bronze Award in the academic year they turn 14, so some will be younger when they embark on their DofE journey. This means that if you are under 14, you will not be able to volunteer for any profit-making organisation, regardless of whether it meets the outcomes of the section. Further details can be found on the government website.

Can I undertake online volunteering?

Yes. Volunteering online is different to volunteering in person, but there are many ways you can give your time and make it meaningful as well as being able to complete one of your sections. You can raise awareness online for your chosen cause or become involved in project work. You can find a range of remote volunteering ideas and opportunities on the Opportunity Finder. Just select Volunteering in the Section dropdown menu and select Distance learning/remote.

How condensed can I make my volunteering activities?

Sectional activities need to average an hour a week, with the first and last activities being the full section duration apart. At Bronze level, it is usual for activities to be weekly. For longer sections at Silver and Gold (potentially at Bronze, depending on the activity), it can help for the activity to be longer (in terms of hours per session) but less often. This can be particularly good for the Volunteering section to allow participants to take on more interesting, challenging and responsible activities. For example, in a Gold programme lasting 12 or 18 months, a participant could do one longer session (e.g., 6 hours) of volunteering per month. Please note that the activity cannot be condensed to less than one session per month.

Can singing in a church choir be used as a Volunteering section activity?

Singing is a Skills section activity. For singing in a choir to be volunteering the participant needs to take on additional responsibilities and help organise the choir in some way, helping with events or practices for example. It could form part of a wider volunteering commitment to the church and church community under ‘serving a faith community’. You can find a list of volunteering activities ideas here.

Is Sports Leadership a Skills or Volunteering section activity?

It can be either. Sports Leadership (sports coaching) can be focused on formal training within the Skills section or could be part training and mostly practical coaching to count for the Volunteering section. It all depends on how the young person sets up their programme and what outcomes they agree with their DofE Leader.

Opportunity Finder

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