Volunteering section requirements

What counts as a volunteering activity?

Volunteering is simple. It’s about choosing to give time to help people, the community or society, the environment or animals.

Your volunteering must not be done for a business but can be undertaken for a charity or not-for-profit organisation. Where your volunteering is in support of surplus generating work, for example a charity shop, then some Local Authorities may require a work permit. The charity you are volunteering with should be aware of this and support you as required.

For your volunteering activity you need to choose to give time to do something useful without getting paid (apart from expenses).

The definitive rules can be found in The Handbook for DofE Leaders, available from DofE Essentials (through eDofE).

Team volunteering

You can also volunteer in a team, which might be an easier way to find an activity if you can identify a local need you can help with.

How long should I volunteer for?

You can take a break, for holidays, exams or just because you feel like it. As long as you’ve finished the activities before your 25th birthday you can still achieve an Award. The table below shows volunteering time required for each level.

Level Minimum time Notes
Bronze 3 or 6 months You must do one of your Volunteering, Physical or Skills sections for 6 months, the others for 3.
Silver 6 or 12 months If you haven’t achieved your Bronze Award, you must extend your Volunteering or the longer of your Physical or Skills sections to 12 months.
Gold 12 or 18 months If you haven’t achieved your Silver Award, you must extend your Volunteering or the longer of your Physical or Skills sections to 18 months.

Remember, you must commit to regular activities averaging at least an hour a week during this time!

Practical volunteering

At least three quarters of the time you spend on the Volunteering section must be practical volunteering. So, you can learn first aid if it’s a quarter of the time or less and providing you then go on to volunteer using your first aid skills, i.e. for St John Ambulance. If you just want to learn something like first aid or lifesaving, then this counts for your Skills section.

What to do in four simple steps:

  • Preparation – You need to research what you want to do and agree it with your Leader. You must find a suitable Assessor and set yourself goals so that you can show how you progressed at the end. Use the electronic programme planner in eDofE or download a paper programme planner from the right hand side to help you.
  • Training – Some activities you choose require you to take a course, simple introduction or training before starting. For the Volunteering section the training must not be more than a quarter of your time spent – you have to do something practical!
  • Activity – the most important and enjoyable bit – actually doing it! You must do each activity for an average of an hour a week for at least the minimum time required at your level.
  • Assessment – To complete your DofE programme you must meet your Assessor to talk about what you’ve done and make sure they sign it off. They can do this online at www.DofE.org/assessor

Volunteering pictures in eDofE

Don’t forget to collect lots of photographs, letters, certificates etc. along the way to upload into your eDofE account to make your Achievement Pack something to treasure. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A leaflet or information sheet about the project you’re working on
  • A brochure about the place you’re volunteering in
  • Thank you letters from people you’ve helped
  • Photographs of you doing your volunteering activity
  • A certificate of recognition (or training course if you did this at the beginning of your activity
  • Assessor’s report – they can write this for you on an Assessor’s Report card for you to upload (remember to mark it as your Assessor’s Report).

Anything that’s not electronic you should photograph or scan as a jpeg and upload it to eDofE.

Check out our ideas for each category to inspire you! Remember, this is not a set list – you can set up your own volunteering activity as long as it meets the DofE’s requirements and it’s approved by your Leader and Licensed Organisation.

Volunteering categories

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