Do ‘exchange time initiatives’ count for the Volunteering section?
Exchange time initiatives can often offer worthwhile volunteering opportunities within the community, but participants must either not collect ‘time credits’ in return, or must donate them to somebody else in order to meet the principles of the section
Can I volunteer with the outdoor activity centre that is running my expedition as I’m really interested in the work they do?
If they are a commercial organisation then no. If they are a charity, not for profit or community interest company, then yes. If you want to get more involved, but they are a commercial organisation, you may be able to do a physical activity there each week which could count towards your DofE programme (Physical section).
How condensed can I make my Volunteering section 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. In these cases, for example, a Gold programme lasting 12 or 18 months with a monthly activity of say six hours would be acceptable.
These kind of decisions must be made in reference to the individual, their overall programme and with the prior agreement of their DofE Leader/Licensed Organisation.
Can being Head Boy or Head Girl count for a Volunteering section?
Yes. As normal, it must meet the required regular personal time and duration requirements and the programme of activity must meet the sectional aims, principles and benefits which are agreed with their DofE Leader.
Would fundraising for an overseas volunteering trip to Africa count as a Volunteering section activity?
Yes and no. You can not benefit directly from the money you fundraise. You can fundraise for money that will be directly used on the project you are going to undertake, for example building materials and so on. You may not count fundraising done which is used to pay for your trip, for example fees, flights, insurance, jabs, hotel accommodation and so on. So participants may need to identify some fundraising activity as DofE and some as non-DofE activity hours.
Can participants count their volunteering efforts at the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Yes. The DofE agreed in advance that these activities could count towards DofE programmes. Note that ‘volunteering’ to support a company at the Olympics would not count for either the Volunteering or Residential sections.
Is Sports Leadership a Skill 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 after the training 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.
Would volunteering at a local veterinary surgery count towards a DofE Volunteering section?
No. This is covered on page 41 of The Handbook for DofE Leaders which states ‘Volunteering must not be done for a business but can be undertaken for a charity or not-for-profit organisation.’ It would be fine to volunteer at an animal rescue centre.
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’.
Can a sponsored run be used for the Volunteering section?
Usually not. The run and training for it are all physical activities and do not count as volunteering. Getting sponsorship rarely meets the sectional aim, principles, benefits or time requirements of the Volunteering section. A participant could use jogging for their Physical section and gaining sponsorship along side promoting the charity as part of a wider fundraising programme for a specific charity for their Volunteering section. It is important that participants also include in their programme an intention to learn about the charity and the issues/areas in which they work. Participants cannot count the same hours of activity for both sections.
Can supporting a charity by managing their website or Twitter/Facebook account be used for a Volunteering section programme?
Yes, as long as it meets the time and duration requirements as normal. The participant should set out a clear programme of activity and ensure that they have the appropriate permissions from the charity they are supporting.
Can participants volunteer to support a political party?
Yes, it is fine to volunteer to support a political party as long as it is a social, not-for-profit organisation working to support the whole community. Participants could use it either as an office based Skills section programme or as a Volunteering section activity as it is voluntary, but it cannot be used for both.
Can you volunteer to fundraise for the DofE? Can you fundraise for your own DofE centre, or even for your expedition?
You can fundraise for the DofE, and please do! The DofE is a charity and relies on the donations and support of the public to exist and support 300,000 participants every year. If you are doing your DofE through a charity then you can fundraise for that charity. You can fundraise for a specific DofE centre if it is a community charity / organisation (for example a DofE centre working with young people with special needs, a youth centre or Scout group) and it should be for a specific cause, for example new facilities, a new roof, extension or renovation. Due to the community focus of the Volunteering section, DofE participants cannot use this section to fundraise for their own specific DofE group or equipment (including expedition equipment) as they will personally benefit from their own efforts. This is not in keeping with the aim of the Volunteering section.
Young people can of course fundraise for their own DofE group or fundraise to support themselves in going on their expedition, but cannot count this for their volunteering section. While participants could undertake event management for their Skills section (if done in the right way), to keep a balanced programme they cannot do fundraising/events for both their Skills and Volunteering sections.
Can participants volunteer to help coach the younger children at a tennis club, even if it is not a charitable or not-for-profit organisation?
DofE participants can only volunteer at a sports club if they are there to provide additional support to the young people, and not take on the responsibilities that should be provided by paid staff (e.g. acting as the main coach). Participants must ensure that opportunities such as these involve them working and supporting a range of people doing the activity. This can be counted under ‘Sports Leadership’ or ‘Dance Leadership’.