Volunteer Work At A Glance
As well as knocking up a few spiritual brownie points, volunteering can help with introducing yourself into a new country; settling initial accommodation and food worries without all the hassles of finding paid employment
Anytime. Short term projects are usually in the summer.
Anywhere. Almost every country, developed or developing, will have organisations and charities in need of volunteers.
The skills a volunteer can offer will increase the number of projects available. Unskilled volunteers will nonetheless find a welcome with plenty of projects around the world but may have to pay a little (and sometimes a lot) towards their keep.
Often these projects have as much emphasis on fostering camaraderie among volunteers from varied backgrounds and nationalities. Voluntary projects may include cleaning and restoring cathedrals, working with the elderly, disabled or disadvantaged, teaching English to local children, environmental conservation, and archaeology.
Longer projects in the developing world mostly require people with skills such as carpentry, nursing, or accountancy. Previous experience or qualifications are not needed to join a workcamp or short term voluntary project and most volunteers will be welcomed whatever their age.
It’s easy to say “none” but it isn’t that simple. Long term projects may pay wages at the local rate, plus travel expenses and insurance, and will provide meals and accommodation. Unskilled volunteers will invariably have to pay out, both to be placed on a voluntary project and towards their keep. Sometimes these fees are small, sometimes they are considerable.
Fixing up a place on a voluntary project is the easiest way to find work abroad in advance, especially as local employment rules are often handily circumvented. Many organisations can place volunteers, see our directory or listings cheap volunteer work for names and websites.
Students or young travellers should try gap year organisations too; their expeditions usually involve a voluntary work element. The money needed to finance the trip can be raised by sponsorship.
Finding voluntourism projects and gap year companies is easy but cheaper projects organised by grassroots organisations are harder to find. We are in the process of listing all those we find in our Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work Abroad section.