Volunteering can be a great way to travel, meet people and contribute. There are unethical organizations that charge you money to take you to a developing country where you can volunteer, but also great free, and ethical volunteering opportunities. These former 'business' organizations are better avoided.
You should always ask yourself the question: can I really improve the situation? If you only have one week to offer many organizations will probably refuse your "help" since it usually takes them more time to get you up to speed with useful tasks. However, if your ready to go with a English English as a foreign language certificate and can teach English or if you have advanced skills that can be instantly useful, such as web development, there are opportunities.
Types of Organizations
- helpx.net is short for "help exchange." This website puts willing volunteers in touch with people or businesses who need help with their farms, vineyards, ranches, hostels, sailing boats etc. throughout the world. After signing up for premier membership, which costs €20 (£18 approx) for two years, volunteers can search the current vacancies noticeboard and reviews and sign up for work. It is usually unpaid work in exchange for free board and lodging. Free membership gives access to basic information about some vacancies.
- workaway.info is similar to Helpx. Workaway puts travellers in contact with homestay hosts who offer food and board in exchange for work. It costs €22, or roughly £19 for a 2 year membership.
- WWOOF is an exchange. In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. WWOOF organizations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help. Many countries have national WWOOF groups. Each national organization has its own membership fees, from €10 to €35 per year. Get the links to each page here.
- SE7EN encourages social and environmental volunteering around the world. They list free and low-cost volunteering opportunities world-wide that have social and / or environmental aims. They also list volunteers with time and skills to offer. Volunteers and hosts can make direct contact with each other to arrange a volunteering stay. Membership costs €15 (£13 approx) for 2 years which gives you full use of the site, and makes available the hosts contact information.(Not all opportunities on this site are free)
- Tostan offer two volunteer programs: the Africa Volunteer Program and the Washington, DC Internship Program. They then place volunteers abroad.
- Farm Helpers in New Zealand (FHiNZ) sells a booklet listing about 350 farms throughout New Zealand. These farmers are willing to offer free accommodation and food to visitors in exchange for 4-6 hours work each day.
- German] Volunteer Outfit.
- Working Traveller This service is more flexible that most volunteer sites - it allows hosts to accept travellers to work and travel though volunteering, work for their bed and food for x number of hours a day or be paid for their work. So a newbie traveller could be doing a few hours a day and another working 10 hours a day and getting paid - both happy with what the other one is doing. $10 a year membership needs to be paid only after travellers start to receive offers from hosts to stay.
- hovos.com offers an effective and quick way to connect hosts and volunteers all around the world. Hosts can sign up for free and start searching for volunteers after their profile is complete. Hosts offer meals and accomodation in exchange for help. Typically there is no money involved from hosts but they might offer compensation for extra hours worked. Volunteers can only contact hosts after they have signed up for trusted member status, which costs $10 or €10 for a year. Volunteers can use Hovos.com to contact other travelers with the same travel plans or just to meet and greet. Easy to use and intuitive.
- VolunteersBase.com moneyless help exchange network, it's free and always will be! Hosts in need of help list their Projects and Volunteers interested in joining can get in touch. Projects can be almost anything, e.g., farming, building/renovations, hostels, language teaching, house-sitting, community work, arts and crafts, housekeeping, etc. (no fees, no memberships, no money).
- ThePoosh.org hospitality site for anyone, anywhere in the world wishing to participate in or start their own sustainable self-build project. It promotes the exchange of labor, knowledge, skills and community values and encourages sustainable self-build projects to offer food and accommodation for volunteer members. It's free.
- Africa Inalnd Mission is based on religious volunteering.
- Bankers without borders - What more to say!
- HEDON is the Household energy network. You can volunteer your time in a number of ways, but its not about travel. Its about volunteering to translate, edit and PR.
- VSO international is a global volunteer organization. It is the world’s leading international development organisation that uses volunteers to fight poverty and reduce inequality.
- Volunteer for economic growth
- Globalhelpswap lists volunteer opportunities worldwide.
More Specific Volunteering Opportunities
- Voluntary Work Information Service -offers volunteer work opportunities in over 150 countries worldwide in the environmental & humanitarian sectors. Each program has different fees.
- WorldTeach offers teaching volunteer opportunities worldwide. WorldTeach is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to international education by living and working as volunteer teachers in developing countries. Program's costs vary from $500 to $5000
- Teachanywhere offers teaching work overseas . "The requirements of each job do vary between schools, countries and regions. However you will need to be a certified/qualified teacher with teacher training and qualifications in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Ireland, and United Kingdom."
You can add yourself here if you're ready to host volunteers. Be aware that this page is public on the internet.
- The Free Nomads Facebook group has a volunteer document.