One of the things that I get really excited about when I think about the trip is volunteering. I have always wanted to join the Peace Corps but at the point in my life when I finally signed up, I met Randy -what timing! As much as I tried, he just wasn’t into the idea and I made the decision to put it on hold for the time being. When I started planning the “big trip” I started discovering all the ways to make a difference without being involved in a particular organization. I’ve filtered through a ton of them in my search to find groups that don’t charge an arm and a leg and offer the opportunity to help on a grassroots level. In my opinion, I think if you’re paying 5k to volunteer somewhere for a couple weeks with the intention of helping the people, the schools, the hospitals or the animals you should probably just donate the 5k to the organization instead of spending a week or so there and really not doing much overall.
Besides volunteering, I am in love with the idea of microfinance and I also love the idea of wwoofing and helping out farms or small businesses on the road.
Below is a little collection of sites I’ve found that provide good information and good opportunities for those looking to volunteer or just give back a little on the road. Please take a peek.
WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
Charity Guide - Tons of stuff here – lots of different countries!
RoadMonkey - Ok, this site does cost money but I’m putting them on here because I love the premise behind their work. Instead of offering volunteer vacations they offer adventure philanthropy expeditions. They are different than a lot of other companies on this list because they are an adventure tour company with a volunteer twist. Pretty cool! If you’re thinking of a going on a tour but you would also like to volunteer then you definitely want to check these guys out!
Friends Of El Shadai- Africa
Volunteers 4 Africa – Database of low cost opportunities in Africa
Volunteer Latin America – Excellent list of very low cost and awesome organizations
Casa Guatemala – Guatemala
Celendin – Peru
Enkosini Eco Experience – Wildlife conservation work in South Africa
Volunteer South America – Comprehensive list of different opportunities in South America
African Impact – Aimed at Gap Year travelers
Elephant Nature Park – Work with Elephants in Thailand!
Work Away - Similar idea to Wwoofing
More Than English - Teach conversational english in Spain and get your lodging and food covered.
Global Volunteering Network – Seems a bit pricey but looks very organized.
Habitat for Humanity – International & local places to build homes
Help Exchange – Another great resource similar to Wwoofing
Idealist - Comprehensive listings for all types of opportunities in all types of places
Independent – Small website committed to free or very low cost volunteering opportunities around the world
International Humanity Foundation – Worldwide & local opportunities
Serve Your World – A great list of Peace Corp alternatives
Peace Villages - Not really budget but seems very genuine
Itgel Foundation – Mongolia
Starfish Foundation- A great Cambodia based organization, no formal volunteering now but hopefully in the future.
Touch Africa - Small list of African opportunities
True Travellers - Another great worldwide list
Volunteer San Diego – A host of ideas if you happen to live in San Diego, CA.
Animal Aware – Volunteer at an animal shelter in Guatemala
Volunteer Nepal – Opportunities in and around Nepal
Social Edge - Not a volunteering list just good sutff – By global entrepreneurs for global entrepreneurs.
Fonkoze – Information on Microfinance in Haiti
Community Empowerment – Available in many languages, starter guide for making a difference
Aid Workers – Free resource to share advice with other aid workers
Kiva – A great microfinance website in action
Microfinance Gateway – Tons of information on Microfinance
Care – Organization dedicated to eradicating poverty with a main focus on helping women
SEEP – Connecting microenterprise practitioners in a global learning community
Accion – A leader in microfinance that has volunteer and paid positions
Foundation for Women – Microcredit company with a focus on helping women
Project Concern - Brings health and hope to those in need
Service Civil International- A well organized volunteer group with low fees
Please keep in mind that with the exception of wwoofing in Italy & Serbia, I haven’t tried any of these other places yet. As we travel I will be sure to update this page.
If you’re looking for more information on WWOOF’ing be sure to read our stories about WWOOF’ing overseas.
If anyone else reading this has volunteered w/ any of these particular organizations, or knows of a great one, please leave a comment and let me know your experiences. – Thanks!