Three Types of Service

  1. Direct
    Requires personal contact with people in need. Works best for those who want a more hands-on experience. Allows volunteers to see more immediate results.

    Example: Hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity, tutoring children at R.N. Harris Elementary School.
  2. Indirect
    Works behind the scenes to channel resources to meet a need. Works best for those who need a more flexible time commitment, or whose skills are more suited to administrative work or networking.

    Example: Fundraising for Relay for Life, canned food drives for a local food bank.
  3. Advocacy
    Draws public awareness to an issue or immediate need. Works best for those who are passionate and well-informed about specific issues. Promotes positive change to address root causes of social problems.

    Example: Making presentations, petitioning the community.

Ask Yourself

  • Does this volunteer opportunity meet an unmet need within the community?
  • How much time am I willing to commit?
  • Does this fit my interests?
  • What will I get out of this experience?
  • How will this help others?

Ask the Organization

  • What do you expect from volunteers?
  • How will this help you meet your goals?
  • Do my skills fit this task?
  • Do you require or offer any training?
  • What is the necessary time commitment?
  • What should I know about the people or places you serve?

After an Act of Service

Take time to reflect on what you learned, what you saw, and how you felt. How did you make a difference?  Was it a positive experience? Is there something you’d want to do differently next time?

Thank the people and organizations you served for the opportunity to work with them. No matter whether it was the best volunteering experience of your life, or the worst, you never know when you’ll meet again.

Use what you learned to find another opportunity to serve in your community. Share your experiences with others.

Volunteering and Your Future

Your Education

If you’re unsure about which direction you want your academic path to take you, volunteering is a great way to explore your interests. For example, tutoring students might help you decide to pursue a career in education, or volunteering at a health clinic might lead you to become a medical professional. Volunteering, particularly long-term volunteer commitments, may help you transfer to four-year college or university. Demonstrating a passion for service helps strengthen an application. After you transfer, it may also help you make friends as you find others with common interests at your new school.

Your Career

Finding a volunteer opportunity that fits your goals, schedule, and interests not only helps an organization have the best volunteers imaginable, it also helps you develop skills for your future career.

Remember: Be punctual, reliable, and trustworthy. You never know when a service experience may become a job opportunity. The skills that you learn while doing service can build your resume and help you develop valuable contacts.

Volunteering Do's and Don’ts


  • Maintain a positive, courteous, flexible, and open-minded attitude at all times.
  • Dress appropriately, including following the service site’s guidelines.
  • Show respect for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, ability, or attitude.
  • Keep appointments as scheduled. Contact the service site as soon as possible if an emergency or illness arises.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand instructions or procedures.
  • Maintain confidentiality of information at the service site.


  • Use drugs or alcohol prior to and during service.
  • Use crude or otherwise inappropriate language.
  • Engage in illegal activities.
  • Give out personal information or property to clients at service sites.
  • Use a cell phone at a service site without permission of the site supervisor.
  • Take photos at a service site without the permission of the site supervisor.
  • Remember, as a member of the Durham Tech campus community, your service – positive or negative – reflects not only on you, but also on the college and other Durham Tech volunteers! Keeping these guidelines in mind will help you have a productive and exciting experience while serving others.