VIU International students

Volunteering and Community Engagement

Volunteering is often thought of as "working for free to gain experience," but it is also important to remember that the core concept of volunteering is about giving your time, skills and energy to an organization or cause that you care about. It's about engaging in the community and giving back. For these reasons, finding the right volunteer opportunity is similar to finding a job. It requires research and time but there are many benefits.

Volunteering is a chance to learn about the local culture, meet new people, try out a type of career to see if you like it, network in a field that interests you, AND it is also a great way to gain valuable work experience.

Here are a few suggestions and questions to consider when looking for volunteer opportunities:

  1. How much time do you have to give? For how long can you keep that commitment of time?
    Some organizations require a commitment of a certain number of hours per week, or dedication to volunteer for a year (especially if there is training involved). Short-term options include local seasonal events, festivals, and fundraisers.

  2. What area is convenient for you to get to? Which organizations are in that area?
    Depending on how many hours you are volunteering for, it might be important for the organization to be near your home, the university, or on a bus route.

  3. What are the kinds of skills or experiences that you could contribute to the organization's needs? 
    For example, if an organization is looking for volunteers to help with customer service, consider if you have strong communication skills that could help you succeed in this kind of role.

  4. What are you interested in? Or what is your passion? These are perhaps the most important, and sometimes most difficult questions because only you can answer them.

Volunteer in the community!

Here are some examples of specific types of volunteer opportunities that might help you get started:



Do you love animals?

If you are passionate about helping animals and if you can commit to a long-term involvement, research our local animal shelters, like the BC SPCA Nanaimo Branch, for example. When contacting a volunteer organizer in this field, highlight your time commitment, why you want to help, what kinds of tasks you might be able to assist with and what kind of experience you have with animals.

Do you like Events?

Enjoy community events or interested in event planning?

Consider researching the local organizations in the community that host big public events. You can find event listings for event volunteer positions with Tourism Nanaimo, Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association (DNBIA),

For a more general search, consider exploring future events in the area on the following sites, and following up to seek volunteer opportunities with those seasonal or special events: Hello BC, Nanaimo What's On Digest, City of Nanaimo Community Events & Planning as well as in local newspapers and radio stations.

Are you active in a sport or recreational activity?

Are you active in a sport or recreational activity?

Look into what kinds of leagues there are and whether they recruit volunteers to help during tournaments or events. 

If you would like to explore more of local sporting events, consider the local sport teams, such as the Nanaimo Clippers, who recruit volunteers of all levels of experience throughout the season.  Contact for more information.


Do you have an interest in helping newcomers to Canada?

The Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society has different volunteer needs throughout the year, for events, programs and services they offer.

CURRENT NEED: The Immigrant Welcome Centre is recruiting ARABIC SPEAKING Volunteers and Interpreters
Contact Daisy:
250.753.6911 Ext. 102

Do you like being outside and gardening?

Do you like being outside and gardening?

There are seasonal opportunities to get outside and into the community, by helping farmers weed or plant crops, or reducing waste from fruit trees known as "gleaning," through organizations like Nanaimo Foodshare, Nanaimo Community Gardens. 


Would you like to volunteer with the elderly?

Would you like to volunteer with the elderly?

Many retirement facilities organize events and activities, and often volunteers are welcome. Look for the contact for the Activities Coordinator, and highlight your interpersonal skills in your introduction message.

Would you like to help with fundraising campaigns?


Would you like to help with fundraising campaigns for Health Services and Research Societies?

Find the local chapter of societies in that area, like the Canadian Cancer Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Alzheimer's Society and many more. These organizations will often host large annual events and programs, and may have various volunteer needs though out the year.

Do you like working with children and youth?



Do you like working with children and youth?

Research options with local licensed childcare facilities or youth camps. This field may require first aid certification or a criminal record check, and may require a certain level of skill, education and experience. If you are pursuing a career in this area, highlight your goals and how the experience would help you, and how you may apply your learning to the role.

Volunteer on campus!

Do you want to be involved on-campus?

Do you want to be involved on-campus?

There are many ways to get involved on-campus! In the Faculty of International Education, you can volunteer for WorldVIU Days in November, the Peer Helper Program or contact us to be added to the Volunteer Database, to receive updates about general volunteer opportunities on and off campus. 

Also, explore the postings on the VIU Career Centre website or with the Office of Enrolment Management.


VIU WUSC (World University Service of Canada)

VIU’s WUSC Local Committee is a campus-based student group working towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world. While supporting student refugees in their integration to Canadian social and academic life, organizing fundraising events, and engaging their campus and community on migration issues, WUSC Committee members are making a true difference in the world, while also gaining valuable leadership experience.

Since the Committee’s formation in 2008, VIU has sponsored two student refugees per year from countries such as Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, to come to Canada and attend class at VIU. With funding from VIU’s Faculty of International Education and an annual student levy through the VIU Student’s Union, VIU’s WUSC Local Committee has sponsored the students’ tuition, food, shelter, clothing and other costs during their first year in Canada. The Committee is proud to announce that they have also secured funding to support to the students through their next three years of studies at VIU! Committee volunteers hold several fundraising events throughout the year, including the annual Harambee Gala Dinner in the spring semester, to raise additional money to support student refugees.

Why You Should Join:

• Connect with your campus and community to have a real impact!

• Take part in a unique refugee resettlement program & learn about forced migration

• Develop professional & personal skills

• Become part of the largest network of its kind in Canada: 85+ campuses!

• Have loads of fun, learn & make connections to last a lifetime

If you are interested in joining, or just want to find out more, please contact

Could you volunteer as a Global Ambassador with the Cultural Couch?

The Cultural Couch Series is a weekly event where students share aspects of their culture with other students.  Our staff will work with you to plan your event, and we have a budget to purchase supplies to make your vision a reality.  


Join a club!

Give your time to a VIU student club!  There are so many to choose from - visit VIUSU (Building 193) for information or check out the club listings on the VIUSU App!

Still not sure?

There are also organizations in the community which specifically work to connect volunteers with organizations. Check out Volunteer Nanaimo and their Volunteer Opportunity Listings.

We recommend tracking your volunteer involvement so it is easier to add to your resume and portfolio.  It may be helpful in some academic programs to maintain a log to demonstrate your community engagement.

Download the Volunteer Log Form

Happy volunteering!












Happy Volunteering!