How to find a volunteering opportunity abroad?

Joanna Horanin

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Do you know that when volunteering you might cause as much damage as you might build something good? Not every project and opportunity helps others. There are some that never make any difference. That’s why finding the right volunteering abroad is so important.

So, you want to volunteer abroad? Great! It’s one of the best ways of giving something back to the community and the world. If you have done some of your research, you probably know that there are a lot of projects out there and an overwhelming amount of companies that offer free or paid for opportunities. It can be a bit of a task to choose the right one. Luckily, I can help you with that a little bit.

I have been actively involved in supporting some of the organisations in Portugal as well as charities in Thailand. I have done my research and reviewed a lot of materials connected with volunteering. I also spend a day with Venture with Impact, where I found out what to watch out for when looking for that perfect volunteering opportunity at home and abroad. I would like to help you out a little. That’s why I have written this post. I hope it will make things easier for you.

Here is my advice on finding the perfect volunteering abroad.

Why volunteer abroad?

I think that’s not a hard question to answer.

Volunteering is a great way of helping others, or helping our environment. Many of us want to do something good in their lives and working for a good cause without being paid is a great way of doing just that.

Volunteering abroad makes it much easier to spend some time in a particular country. If you are not happy with going somewhere only for holiday, but you would like to try how it is to live there, then becoming a volunteer gives you that chance. You don’t even need to worry about getting a visa – your organisation should help you out with that.

The last, but not the least important reason is that volunteering abroad is a great addition to your CV. It teaches you skills, resilience, responsibility. Even when it’s not directly relevant to your profession, it can also be seen as an advantage for your future employers.

If you’re working for yourself, volunteering might be a good way to improve yourself and your skills. There are plenty of organisations that look for back office staff and open their doors to people like designers, programmers, or lawyers. I think volunteering abroad is perfect for digital nomads and freelancers.

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How to choose the perfect volunteering project abroad?

There are only a couple of things you should consider when looking for a volunteering opportunity abroad. Below points are very important, so consider them carefully.

Evaluate your goals

What are your goals? Why do you want to volunteer? Do you aim to improve your career prospects? Do you feel strongly about a particular cause? Do you only want to live abroad for a while? Answer these questions first and be true to yourself.

Find out more about Voloturism and avoid it

Volonturism describes projects that are done for money. Certain organisations create a fake need in a community to attract volunteers, who pay huge amounts of money to help out.

An example of volonturism is volunteering in an orphanage in Cambodia. A lot of charity companies buy children from poor families and place them in orphanages. Those kids are there illegally, they are not allowed to see their relatives and they are kept there to make the volunteers think they are helping out.

There are plenty of such examples. To avoid these kind of projects, find out more about the organisation you want to volunteer with. Read reviews and ask a lot of questions. Remember that it’s sometimes better to work in the back office instead of working in the field.

Evaluate the organisation and the project

As said before, read a lot about the project and the organisation. Evaluate their goals and check if they actually make any difference. Bear in mind that the project you want to work on should help the local communities in their future lives. It cannot show them that they should always rely on the outside help.

Send your application

Once you decide on the project and the organisation, send them your application. Treat it the same way as you would be looking for a job. A charity would probably want to interview you over Skype. Prepare yourself, look professional and always remember about what you want to achieve through your volunteering.

Volunteering abroad is a perfect opportunity to gain new skills, brush up on the ones you already have and spend some time in a country that fascinates you. No matter how old you are, if you want to volunteer abroad, you shouldn’t wait any longer.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your experiences or your point of view? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment!