Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served.
The Great Depression saw one of the first large-scale, nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteering for a specific need. During World War II, thousands of volunteer offices supervised the volunteers who helped with the many needs of the military and the home front, including collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave, and caring for the injured.
Micro-volunteering is an unpaid task that is operated via an internet-connected device and completed in small increments of time. It is distinct from virtual volunteering in that it typically does not require an application process or a training period.
During the 2012 hurricane Sandy emergency, Occupy Sandy volunteers, formed a laterally organized rapid-response team that provided much needed help during and after the storm, from food to shelter to reconstruction. It is an example of mutualism at work, pooling resources and assistance and leveraging social media.
Environmental volunteering refers to the volunteers who contribute towards environmental management or conservation. Volunteers conduct a range of activities including environmental monitoring, ecological restoration such as re-vegetation and weed removal, protecting endangered animals, and educating others about the natural environment.