There is a growing need to promote volunteerism among youth, given the declining rates across Western countries, and the societal and individual benefits gained through community engagement. Research has focused on individual predictors of volunteerism, but little is known about the role of context, such as urban–rural differences when examining comparable cohorts. Using data from a Canadian survey and semi-structured interviews, we documented differences in volunteer motivations and barriers between urban and rural youth. Survey results showed that rural youth volunteered more hours if they had friends who volunteered, whereas urban youth invested more hours if they were motivated to explore their strengths. Qualitative findings highlighted the importance of networks as levers to formal and informal volunteering, especially for rural youth, and the unique social and structural barriers related to volunteerism depending on place of residence. Contextual factors should be considered when designing strategies to recruit and retain young volunteers.