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From accounting, to web maintenance, to photography, to relationship building – highly skilled volunteers make all the difference in the nonprofit sector.

“Highly skilled volunteers” include any volunteer that offers specific skills, knowledge, or expertise in an area where not all volunteers could help out. Highly skilled volunteer roles go above and beyond more basic tasks like photocopying, filing, sorting, delivering, registering kids, soliciting small donations, or handing out refreshments. Instead, a highly skilled volunteer might offer pro bono legal advice, create the annual financial reports, conduct client research, or design a new logo for your program.

Nonprofit organization often engage highly skilled volunteers on their Board of Directors or to help provide services that would otherwise be too expensive. Highly skilled volunteers can also ease the burden on paid staff who often take on many roles due to limited budgets.

Highly skilled volunteers may also find added benefits through volunteering: 

  • professional and portfolio experience, especially for students and young professionals (ex. marketing, web design, or counselling)
  • a chance to use and practice their skills, especially for skills that are often hobbies (ex. photography, podcasting, or coaching)
  • added satisfaction through fulfilling a meaningful and challenging role
  • an opportunity to use their skills for a good cause
  • an opportunity to continue using skills, knowledge, and expertise after retirement
  • a closer, peer relationship with the nonprofit’s staff

Skills Based VolunteeringKeep in mind that the skills and expertise of highly skilled volunteers are more difficult to replace than other volunteer roles, so volunteer recognition is even more important to volunteer retention. Regularly demonstrating the impact a volunteer is having through their work is a very effective retention strategy. Visit Volunteer Canada for more on volunteer recognition, including insights from the 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study.


More resources and information on highly skilled volunteering:

Skills Based VolunteeringSkills-Based Volunteering

Volunteer Canada has compiled a set of tools and resources for engaging highly skilled volunteers.


Canadian Code for Volunteer InvolvementCanadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (CCVI)

Volunteer Canada created the CCVI to supports organizations in engaging all types of volunteers, including highly skilled volunteers.


Getting Ready for Skilled VolunteersGetting Ready for the Skilled Volunteer

8 tips from Charity Village to help you engage skilled volunteers for the first time.


Serving Communities Internship Program (SCIP)

SCiP connects nonprofit organizations and post-secondary students to complete meaningful, skill-based internships. A great opportunity to practice engaging highly skilled volunteers.


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