Before finding a volunteering gig, you have to be clear why you want to volunteer – whether it’s because you want to change the world, you want to learn new skills or you want to save money. One thing is for sure – The experience will change you!
This article aims to help you find the places to volunteer, this article was originally published on December 2014 but updated last December 2020.
First things first: determine your why. Before looking for places to volunteer to, you first have to ask yourself why you want to volunteer.
- Is it for a cause that you advocate for?
- Do you want to acquire new skills?
- Is it for mere experience?
- Do you want to immerse in different cultures?
- How to find places to volunteer?
You don’t need rocket science to find volunteer opportunities. If you are still having problems how to find them, start with your circle of friends. Most of the time, your friends are just waiting for you to just reach out to them.
There are different ways but we will only list down what we know and most of what we experienced.
Please note that we’re not a fan of giving any amount of money or a “donation” to volunteer. We will pay the membership fee of some websites but you won’t see us paying (a lot of money) to donate our time and effort. If you choose to donate out of choice at the end, that’s different. You might also want to know about Sustainable Travel Lifestyle which we actually prefer than volunteering esp when you decide to Travel Long term.
1. Join HelpX.net or WorkAway website
We found our Hostel volunteering gig in Ollantaytambo, Peru through this website. We stayed in Ollantaytambo for 5 weeks. HelpX has a fee of $25 for a two-year premium membership that grants access to potential places for volunteering. Most of the hosts listed on the site require volunteers to commit 4 hours a day of working in exchange for accommodations like bed and food.
HelpX has an international market—we even found gigs in India and UK!—but there are different websites that are popular in specific places. An example is Woofing.com, which is known in Australia and New Zealand.
P.S. If you don’t want to join yet, message us on where you want to go and we can try to help you to look for some places if there’s an awesome one which will worth it for you to sign up!
This is as simple as the name of the site itself—you look after someone else’s house! TrustedHousesitters has an established network. No one would just trust a stranger to look after their personal home, but with Trusted housesitters’ established network, both the owner and housesitter are carefully reviewed and selected. The owners and house-sitters are carefully selected and reviewed to ensure everyone’s peace of mind.
Don’t hesitate to ask! We found this bar and restaurant volunteering gig in Duck’n’Chill Restaurant in Agonda Beach, Goa just by walking into their place. We had dinner there and when we discovered that the food was awesome so we asked the Manager if we can work and help them for a week in exchange for yummy food! He agreed and voila, we enjoyed the best Indian food we’ve ever had!
In different party cities in South East Asia, you can easily find volunteering gigs like working in a hostel, bartending, giving away fliers etc – just approach the staff and ask them if they need help from a backpacker. During the full moon party season in Koh Pah Ngan, Thailand, all guesthouses are extremely busy and expensive, lucky we found this gig which gave us free bed and food in exchange for working few hours at night working in the bar and cleaning the hostel.
4. Check on Facebook
This is pretty obvious. Most organizations have Facebook pages, and most of their announcement and activities are posted online.Yes, you can easily message a company or establishment directly on Facebook. So if you decide to go to Sri Lanka then look for a place and contact them directly on Facebook. We’ve done this a lot of times before going to a place and we get a lot more responses. You can follow organizations that cater to volunteers, or join our Facebook group.
Related Article: Looking for an affordable accommodation? Check out our Ultimate List of Best Hostels around the World.
5. Ask your Friends (Word of Mouth)
Of course, you have Facebook friends and you’ve seen them staying and volunteering in some place, so for sure they have contact details or the organizations or backpacking hostel. Just ask them! Ask your friends, especially the ones who travel a lot!
Also, if you’ve been following different bloggers, ask them too! Follow bloggers who travel places and do volunteer work! Most of the awesome bloggers that we know do reply to their readers and they’re definitely willing to share their experiences with you.
6. Check Websites for Places to Volunteer
There are lots of sites that offer volunteering opportunities. Just use Google search operators and you can spot random volunteering opportunities. Examples of such are the use of “intitle” and “inurl” search operators.
By using search operator like the image above, you can find opportunities designed for the youth who are looking for scholarships and fellowships around the world. We know you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, and you can find lots of that, too! You can also find non-profit organizations that aim to bring good people and good causes together.
A lot of websites boast databases of volunteer opportunities online. You just need to find them. Some are for those who want to contribute and make a difference without having to be on-site. You can also discover worldwide volunteerism projects where you can team up with the organization to address issues and challenges on sustainable development.
Using our tips above, you can easily search for opportunities and find projects in different parts of the world.
Quick reminders on Volunteering
You’ve identified your why. You’ve found your place—what’s next?
We’ve gathered a quick few reminders before you commit to that trip!
1. Make sure you know what you can give
Volunteering isn’t exactly all fun. It requires work, and before you commit, you have to ensure that you will deliver. A lot of organizations are powered by volunteers. This means that when you volunteer for an organization, they expect you to carry out your role. If you feel like going out of the country for volunteer work is too much of a stretch for you, try volunteering locally first.
Do not over-commit your time. Know what you can and are willing to give. This will make it easier for you and everyone else involved.
2. Research the culture
This is very important, especially if you’re going abroad. The last thing you want to do is offend a person or an organization. Research about the culture of the organization, if you’re volunteering for one, or the province where you’re going.
You are expected to at least know how to act around the locals, and to be aware of simple etiquettes. Never go to a place without researching about its culture first.
3. Learn the language
If you’re going to a country with a different language, it’s ideal that you learn their medium. But if you’re short on time, you can try to learn the basic, conversational language. English may be the universal language, but not everyone can speak it, so you better be ready.
Some organizations provide free training for this in their orientations—don’t miss it!
4. Pack light and comfy
It’s a volunteer work, not a luxury staycation. Make sure to bring clothes that are comfortable and amenable to weather changes. Some volunteer works require you to travel every now and then, so keep your bags handy and your clothes comfy.
5. Bring an open mind
You’ll be meeting a lot of new people, and going to a lot of new places. To fully understand people and their situation, you have to approach them with your judgment and preconceptions suspended.
Listen and learn from the people you’ll meet. It can be life-changing.
Your why’s will be your guide in searching for volunteer opportunities.
Jon and I have volunteered for different causes in different places: we’ve taught kids in Cambodia; we’ve worked in a hostel in exchange for accommodations in Peru; we’ve worked with disabled kids, and horses for a day in Arequipa; I’ve volunteered in a sustainable Eco-farm in Laos. All of these are experiences that stayed with me and helped me gain a wider perspective on things that I used to not know much about.
1. For an advocacy
Volunteering for an advocacy means giving your time or expertise for a cause. These kinds of volunteer work give you a better understanding of a certain advocacy and enable you to make a difference the best way you can. There are a lot of ways to volunteer for an advocacy, but you first have to decide which cause is closest to your heart. This sense of purpose will drive you to make a change, and in the end, satisfy you.
You can volunteer for an advocacy online by providing free services to non-profit organizations that cater to your advocacy (e.g. environment, animal rights, human rights, etc). You can also volunteer locally or abroad.
There are a lot of non-profit organizations who works towards an advocacy. Most of these organizations are powered and ran by volunteers as well.
2. For the culture
These are volunteer works that are usually under fellowship programs. While you can immerse in a country’s culture and learn about their history by just visiting the country, volunteering through fellowships, sometimes internships, allows you to stay longer in a place may it be local or abroad. And that’s the key to immersion: time.
Immersing yourself in a different culture allows you to understand the people more, and gives you a different perspective or way of looking at things.
There are a lot of non-government organizations and international organizations that offer this kind of volunteer work.
3. For free amenities
Travel accommodations can be expensive, but we figured out a way around that. Did you know that you can actually volunteer in exchange for amenities like free accommodations and food?
It’s true! We did it, and here’s how you can do it, too.
So there you have it. No more excuses. GO VOLUNTEERING!