Volunteering Australia defines a volunteer as ‘a person who chooses to contribute their time, skills and experience, for no payment (other than reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses), to benefit the community’. An important notion in volunteering is freedom of choice. People who feel obligated or coerced into volunteering may not be as willing to contribute their time, skills or experience as someone who freely chooses to become a volunteer.
Volunteers may vary in terms of the amount of free choice they feel they have exercised in becoming a volunteer and whether they expect to be reimbursed for their out-of- pocket expenses. Most volunteering in sport and recreation organisations takes place within a formal structure, but many volunteers are willing to be involved on an informal basis.
Depending upon their relationship to other members in an organisation, the intended beneficiaries of their volunteer work may be themselves or close friends or family, whereas other volunteers may not have such a direct connection to an
Volunteer recruitment practices may need to be varied in response to which category of volunteer is needed. For example, people who are obligated to volunteer have less free choice than someone who offers to help pack up after an athletics meet. Whether the intended beneficiaries are oneself (eg centre member) or strangers (eg volunteering at a major sport event) may also impact on the way volunteers are recruited.