Free course

Introducing the voluntary sector

Free statement of participation on completion
Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

If you feel that you want to learn more about the voluntary sector then this short 8-week course is for you. The course will guide you through some of the distinctive features and values of the voluntary sector, how organisations are funded and involve volunteers and other ‘stakeholders’ in their work. It will also provide you with knowledge and skills you can apply to your own work or volunteering as well as your everyday life. You can progress at your own pace over the 8 weeks; each week will take a minimum of 3 hours of your time.

The course features interviews with Martha Lane Fox, the Chancellor of The Open University and a significant figure in the voluntary sector. You will hear Martha talking about her own charity, Go ON UK, as well as her involvement in numerous other voluntary organisations.



Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they’re a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you’re signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition you can download and print your OpenLearn Statement of Participation – which also displays your Open University badge.


This course is endorsed by the CPD Standards Office 340.  It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development but is not accredited learning. We are unable to provide formal learner verification services for participation in our open online courses, which are provided freely by The Open University as self-directed CPD.  

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

Introducing the voluntary sector

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of what is meant by the voluntary sector, its values, contribution and distinctive features
  • recognise and use some of the terms and concepts associated with understanding the voluntary sector
  • use and apply your knowledge about the voluntary sector to your own work or volunteering experience
  • link your learning with your own personal or career goals.

First Published: 26/05/2015

Updated: 05/11/2019

You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.

Course content

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