Ready to volunteer but don’t know where to start?
There are hundreds of community service and volunteer organisations around the world. Each one has its own focus so it can be difficult deciding which one is right for you.
The efforts of volunteers is crucial to the success of many important projects around the world.
Whether you choose conservation, education, health, infrastructure, children in need – whatever you’re most passionate about, there will be a way you can make a big difference with your time, skills or money.
Volunteering and community service gives you the opportunity have an amazing experience that will change your life and the lives of others.
What volunteering experience do you want to have?
- Do you want to go abroad to a developing nation, or do you want to help in your community at home?
- Do you want to combine volunteering with travel or a working holiday?
- What skills would you like to contribute?
- What would you like more experience in?
Your answers will help guide you in the right direction.
To get you started, we’ve listed a bunch different kinds of websites that will help you understand some of the options available to you.
This dynamic organisation links volunteers directly with free and low-cost volunteering opportunities around the world. Projects mainly have a social or environmental focus and are usually located in schools, orphanages, wildlife reserves or natural parks. A discussion forum lets you chat with other volunteers in the interchange.
Global Vision International
Journey to amazing places to help protect diverse and unique communities and ecosystems. GVI has a focus on long term, sustainable developments in Africa, South America, Central America, Asia and Europe.
Placements are from 1 week to 2 years. The site details separate programs for Under 18’s, Gap Year students and Travellers. Some internships can earn you academic credits. Go to the ‘Volunteers in Action’ section to read stories from current and past volunteers.
The Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program (AYAD) places skilled 18-30 year olds on short-term assignments (3 to 12 months) in developing countries throughout the Asia Pacific region.
It’s part of the Australian Government’s AusAID intiative. You’ll be trained up before you leave and receive in-country support during the placement. Living expenses are covered. Most assignments require a particular skill set, so you’ll need to look for one that best suits your experience and interests.
One of the world’s largest volunteer organisations, offering placements in 29 developing countries. Mostly caters to 18-25 year olds. A big range of placements in various areas, so you can choose one to suit your interests.
These include teaching, conservation, sports, medicine, law, human rights and journalism. If applicable, you can do your dissertation with Projects Abroad. Most placements are for 2-4 months. You need to pay a fee to cover your travel and living costs. Great Open Days and Information Evenings in capital cities.
Global Work & Travel Co.
This site is great if you want to combine your volunteer placement with travel or a working holiday because this group does it all. They can help you put together a great itinerary to suit your goals.
Projects have a conservation focus. Head office is in Main Beach, QLD and they have offices in Vancouver, London, Africa, Asia, South Pacific, Europe and all regions of America, so you can easily access help abroad if needed.
Australian Volunteers for International Development
Part of the Australian Government’s AusAID initiative, this organisation recruits skilled volunteers for programs in Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.
You need to have a qualification and/or experience in a professional role for these placements. If selected, your flights and accommodation will be paid for. You’ll also receive an allowance to pay for modest living expenses.
You’ll be granted one week holiday per 3 months of work. You’ll need to attend a 3-day Pre-departure Briefing Program and you’ll have support whilst abroad from the ICM (In-Country Manager). Go to ‘News & Media’ to read stories of recent volunteer experiences.
Australian Volunteers International
Another site that is for professionals of all ages, particularly those with qualifications in medicine. Most roles are for advisors and managers who are have a high level of expertise in their field. The site has great in-depth articles on current and future projects. Regular information sessions are held in capital cities.
For 17-25’s. There are six different roles – Schools Assistant, Teacher, Sports Coach, Outdoor Activities Instructor, Community Worker and Caring Assistant. No experience is necessary for most roles – just a compassionate nature. Some scholarships and funding are available, but you will generally need to cover your own costs. Placements are available in the UK, Argentina, Canada, Fiji, Ghana, India, Malawi, Vanuatu, China, and Vietnam.
World Youth International
Take a look at the Overseas Action Program for 18-30 year olds. Choose a five or ten week placement on construction projects improving the infrastructure for local communities in Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, Cambodia, India and Peru. A team leader accompanies the group. WYI also has programs for all ages.
Spend your gap year making a real difference to young children in need. You can live and work alongside locals in an orphanage in India, Nepal or Thailand for 1, 2 or 3 months. You pay a placement fee to cover your living expenses and you are supported by in-country team members. No experience necessary.
I to I International Projects
Placements in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Latin America. Mostly teaching, conservation and construction projects with a focus on small, local communities. Placement fee is payable in addition to your travel costs.
Placements in Australia
This Australian site offers local volunteering opportunities. One day or one year – choose the time you want to commit to. Jobs include dog walking, tree planting, tutoring, fundraising and charity retail. Great if you want to be more involved in your community, or you have recently moved to another area in Australia and you want to meet like-minded people.
Help in the national headquarters in Melbourme, in state offices or out in the community. All skill sets are welcomed and there are short and long term opportunities available. You’ll be working for an esteemed organisation and gaining valuable work experience. Focus is on helping people living in poverty in developing nations.
Pro Bono Australia
An online hub for connecting volunteers with non-profit organisations. Animal shelters, youth outreach, human rights, conservation groups and media are some of the groups offering positions. Most roles require experience.
This is the volunteer arm of seek.com.au. Browse through a wide range of flexible volunteering opportunities throughout Australia.
Volunteering in the USA
If you’re heading to the States, check in with this site before you go. Assist with programs dealing with homelessness, health issues, children in need, animal welfare and education.
Also has a virtual volunteer centre, where you can find opportunities that you can do from your laptop anywhere in the world. Jobs can include include web design, administration, social networking and market research.
A wide range of volunteer opportunities across the United States. Whatever your background and interests, you should find something to suit. Also has information on volunteer internships which look great on your CV!