PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of adults with complex communication needs (CCN) who engage in volunteering. METHOD: In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 adults with CCN who had worked as volunteers. Interview transcripts were analysed according to grounded theory methodology. RESULTS: 'Control' emerged as the most important factor determining the nature of the participants' volunteering experiences. Two key strategies for enhancing control were the provision of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems and appropriate support to volunteer. A theoretical model to account for the experiences of volunteers with CCN is presented. CONCLUSIONS: Adults with CCN who want to volunteer must have access to an effective communication system and appropriate support if they are to volunteer successfully for the benefit of themselves and others.