Volunteers and the Law in BC

  • Recorded on: April 25, 2024

  • Length: 60 minutes


Whether you’re a volunteer or an organization that relies on the help of volunteers, you may have questions about your rights and responsibilities, and risks to watch out for. Lawyer Mary Childs answers common questions about volunteers and the law in British Columbia. 


In this webinar, you will learn:

Volunteer’s perspective

  • How the law defines volunteering, and why it matters. [4:05]

  • Factors a person should consider before volunteering, and what questions a volunteer should ask an organization before they volunteer. [10:25]

  • If you volunteer for a local charity’s fundraiser and some money goes missing, whether you can be held responsible. [15:30]

  • If you volunteer to drive on a field trip at your child's school, what risks you would be taking on. [18:30] 

  • How you can protect yourself as a volunteer. [21:10]

  • If you are thinking of volunteering as a director of a non-profit organization, what kinds of responsibilities you can expect and what things you should look out for before taking on the role. [24:10]

  • If you’re elected to your strata council and it becomes too much, whether you can quit before your term is up. [31:10]

Organization’s perspective

  • If an organizing committee at a school has parent volunteers help run a fair, what responsibilities the committee has to the volunteers. [32:30]

  • If a non-profit organization is sued because a person is injured due to the actions of a volunteer, whether the organization is responsible. [34:20]

  • Whether a small non-profit that relies on volunteers on a regular basis needs to have policies in place for their volunteers, and tips for what should be covered in those policies. [37:35] 

  • Whether a non-profit that offers recreational activities run by volunteers should look into waivers and insurance. [42:20]   

  • If your non-profit is sued by a volunteer who got injured while volunteering, what steps you should take first. [45:15]

Live questions

  • If a volunteer's role involves them using their own vehicle, whether their own vehicle insurance would cover them. [47:40]

  • Whether a person who is 70+ and volunteers to help a strata with gardening and landscaping would be covered if they are injured. [48:35]

  • When volunteering as a strata council member, whether the strata council is considered a non-profit. [49:40]

  • Whether you can be sued personally for serving on a volunteer board for a non-profit. [50:50]

  • Whether the number of years a volunteer has been involved with an organization affects whether they're considered a worker. [52:35]

  • How stipends, honorariums and other types of “compensation” (such as passes and tickets) affect whether someone is considered a worker. [53:45]

  • What should be in a waiver for volunteers. [55:00]


Mary Childs

Mary Childs

Mary is general counsel of the Tsawwassen First Nation. Before joining TFN in June 2020, she practiced with a national law firm, working primarily with charities, cooperatives, and other purpose-driven organizations. Mary has held academic positions in law faculties in Canada and the UK. She chairs the board of governors of the Law Foundation of British Columbia, is a member of BC’s Passenger Transportation Board, and chairs the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Board. In both 2021 and 2022 Mary was named one of BC’s 500 most influential business leaders by Business In Vancouver. She lives on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people.

Attendee feedback

“Very informative and worth attending as you gave us something we may not look into when volunteering.”  

“Mucho Gracias, Paula and Mary. This has been very informative, and very well presented in a common sense format. Kudos to the team😎”  

“The speaker was focused, clear and to the point. Her presentation was well-organized.“  

“Appreciate the topics covered, the quality of the presenters and the Q&A format for delivering the webinar.”  

“Thank you. I’m looking at volunteering in my community and this webinar has been very informative.”  

“Thank you so much Paula & Mary for this wonderful & very informative session.“

“Excellent info to know about volunteering regarding waivers, insurance and asking what the policy is etc.”

“Thank you. I will share this with groups I volunteer with.”

Additional resources

From People’s Law School:

More supports for non-profits and volunteers:


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This website explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. The information is not intended as legal advice. The cases we refer to reflect real experiences, but names have been changed. See our full disclaimer.

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We are grateful to work on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, whose Peoples continue to live on and care for these lands.