Could you please tell me in which context should I use 'voluntary work' and 'volunteer work' with clear examples?

  • I have already checked this link, but it doesn't answer my question.
    – Abdulkader
    Jan 26, 2021 at 21:25
  • Isn't the difference obvious from dictionary definitions?
    – Void
    Jan 27, 2021 at 3:41
  • @Void According to the Cambridge dictionary, voluntary means 'done, made, or given willingly, without being forced or paid to do it.' and volunteer (adj) means 'used to describe someone who works without expecting payment, or the work they do.' Therefore, it is still tricky as an adjective to describe a work in different contexts.
    – Abdulkader
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


Voluntary work is work that you do voluntarily, but it's not in service of some charitable end. "Some of the teachers are helping out by doing some voluntary work." (from the link the OP posted)

Volunteer work is work done for a charitable organization, say like the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and so on. "Serving soup at the local women's shelter certainly is volunteer work."

Volunteer (see last definition from the AMH): To do charitable or helpful work without pay.


  • 2
    "Volunteer work" also refers to work done for public benefit, usually through some organization, that is not strictly charitable. Being a docent at a museum, an unpaid aide at a hospital. a parking assistant at a county fair, an assistant at a county extension office, or an unpaid tutor would all be volunteer work, but not charitable work. Jan 26, 2021 at 22:18
  • 1
    @DavidSiegel, agreed. My retired mother does "volunteer work" at a public elementary school. Public schools certainly serve the public good, but are usually not considered charities.
    – Juhasz
    Jan 26, 2021 at 22:21
  • @DavidSiegel more generally, I would describe "volunteer work" as a more formalised form of voluntary work, often coming with a specific job title (even if the title is just "volunteer", as I had when I worked in a charity shop), and isn't work you do through an organisation you are already a paid employee of.
    – user81621
    Jul 5, 2021 at 11:38

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