Volunteering abroad can be a great way to explore the world, experience new things, while also helping to change the lives of others. Unlike, volunteering back home, international volunteers are usually required to fully immerse into a new culture and experience a different way of living.
Expect to come out of this opportunity forever changed and ready to take on the professional world. If you’re a first-time international volunteer you might want to consider finding a project abroad through a reliable organisation as this will put you at ease, while you’ll also be supported throughout your time abroad.
Volunteer abroad organisations don’t just help volunteers of course, they also work with locals to make each project as meaningful as possible for the local community. Here are the twenty best organisations that won’t only keep you safe, they will also allow you to have the time of your life.
1. Global Vision International
The GVI features many award-winning projects and it boasts over 2000 participants on an annual basis. It’s one of the biggest volunteer work abroad organisations and it has hundreds of different projects, all of which are focused on creating a real impact on local communities.
The GVI also offers internships which are best suited to people who are interested in developing their careers. All of the projects run by this organisation operate under the direction of the local communities.
2. International Volunteer HQ
A leading volunteer travel opportunity, the IVHQ focuses on providing affordable travel experiences to people who want to see the world while ensuring that their presence will make some kind of impact on local communities. All of the projects are high quality and create responsible and safe opportunities for international volunteers. All of the IVHQ run programmes are also highly ethical and prioritise community needs.
3. Volunteering Solutions
Volunteering Solutions operate in 19 countries with more than 100 projects and internships. Much like the organisations listed above, Volunteering Solutions is interested in ensuring its presence abroad is ethical and as such, they collaborate with NGOs, hospitals, orphanages, HIV/AIDs clinics and women’s groups to ensure sustainable development.
4. Love Volunteers
Love Volunteers was created by a group of volunteers who wanted to change how volunteering abroad was done. As such, their approach is different to many other organisations. They offer affordable volunteer opportunities abroad and they work closely with local communities in developing countries. They work with these organisations regularly to ensure that their presence will not be disruptive to the communities and to maximise their positive impact.
5. Cross-Cultural Solutions
One of the most acclaimed organisations, Cross-Cultural Solutions uses a unique model to make a real impact on developing communities, empower local non-profits and foster sustainability. Over the years, the organisation has formed strong bonds with local organisations who dictate needs and objectives.
Unlike many other volunteer abroad organisations, CCS does not allow volunteers to be placed with host families as they want to maximise safety and security, but they make up for that by offering many interesting cultural activities.
6. Plan My Gap Year
As many people choose to volunteer abroad during their gap year, Plan my Gap Year is tailored to fit the needs of either people leaving school, university or are in-between and are in need of academic break. Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning organisation that was found by volunteers and seeks to achieve long-term sustainable goals in collaboration with local communities. It offers programmes in eleven countries all of which range between one and twenty-four weeks.
7. Connect 123
Connect 123 offers programmes in various cities, including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Dublin and Shanghai. From volunteering and internship schemes to study abroad programmes all work opportunities are hosted by local not-for-profits, schools, research institutes and healthcare clinics.
Unlike the majority of organisations in this list, Connect 123 runs a more tailored to the volunteer model; you can decide your starting and leaving day on your own and they will find a programme that best suits your preferences.
8. International TEFL Academy
One of the most popular volunteer abroad opportunities, teaching English has been helping English-speaking people improve their communication skills and local students learn English for years. The International TEFL Academy is committed to provide students with the training and guidance they need to teach English around the world. They offer TEFL/TESOL certification in more than twenty-five countries.
9. Global Volunteers
Global Volunteers is an organisation that has been around for over thirty years. Its long experience in the volunteer sector has made it one of the most credible organisations and more than 33,000 have volunteered with them up until now.
Global volunteers tries to connect international volunteers with opportunities that would best fit them based on their skillset and it promises to allow people to experience their chosen destination like locals do.
Canadian initiative Fronteering is dedicated to offer opportunities off the beaten track. Their destinations include countries such as Brazil, Belize, Panama, New Zealand, Africa and Asia and focus on projects that will allow people to come into contact with nature, the wildlife and indigenous cultures. Fronteering promises to deliver a truly raw adventure.
11. Agape Volunteers
Agape Volunteers operate only in Africa. You can do volunteer work abroad with them in Kenya, Massai-land, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. They offer up to 6 programmes in each country and these include teaching, work in orphanages, clinics, music placement and conservation. The opportunities last from one week to a year, and you’ll also be assigned a personal trip advisor who will support you throughout the process.
Iko-Poran is a Brazilian not-for-profit and offers many opportunities locally. Their fees start from $150 a week and their prices are so affordable because they work with local partners. What’s unique about this opportunity is that their model allows prospective volunteers to get involved with the project before the even get to their placement.
GoEco is a leading eco-tourism organisation that offers many volunteer opportunities in Israel. They work with over 150 community, wildlife and environmental initiatives to protect the people and natural world. Step by step they are trying to promote a different way of travelling, one that not only minimises the impact on environment, but is also meaningful to locals.
14. Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year addresses high-school graduate specifically and is on a mission to redefine gap years. This is an award-winning organisation that focuses on promoting volunteering and unique cultural experiences among young people. Opportunities include projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
15. One World 365
Although not an organisation, One World 365 is a great place to start looking for volunteering opportunities. Essentially, it’s a website that lets you browse through thousands of opportunities in over a hundred destinations. If you are unsure of where you’d like to go, or what you’d like to do, this is a great website to get ideas and start visualising your time abroad.
More than an organisation, WWOOF is a movement that connects people with organic farms around the world. Volunteers are expected to live with the farmer/host families and work alongside them to, not only, learn about farming, but to also understand the importance of fair trade.
17. Projects Abroad
With over twenty years of experience in the volunteering sector, Projects Abroad is one of the most reliable organisations available. It offers hundreds of projects in countries all over the world and with almost 100,000 volunteers up to date, it’s proven to be an organisation that people can trust. Projects available include teaching, conservation and environmental care as well as archaeology.
18. Peace Corps
Peace Corps volunteers have the opportunity to work in many different sectors including agriculture, environment, health and education. Unlike most other organisations on this list, there’s no service fee to volunteer with this body. Of course, volunteers are provided with housing and a living.
There is a slight catch, as a United States Government organisation in order to be eligible you have to be a united states citizen.
19. Lead Adventures
Lead adventures offers very affordable programmes in Ecuador. Opportunities include experience in the biological research centre of the Galapagos, as well as working with children to assist in their development and education.
20. UN Volunteers
One of the most acclaimed organisations, the UN Volunteers has managed to create a real impact in the communities it works with. The organisation is active in 130 countries and has field presence in over 80 locations. What you should know about volunteering with the UN, however, is that you need to be 25 years old or older and need to hold a university degree or a higher technical diploma, while volunteers are also expected to have a minimum of two years of experience in their field.
Volunteering abroad opportunities offer you the chance to do something that is truly meaningful. Not only will you be able to change the lives of the less-fortunate, but you will also change as well.
What kind of volunteering opportunity abroad would most interest you? Let us know in the comment section below.