7 Tips for Finding Your Ideal Volunteer Project
So you’re interested in volunteering? There are so many amazing projects available, so how do you choose the right one? This should be one of the most rewarding and memorable trips of your life, so choose your project wisely. Here is a list of things to consider when looking into volunteering, and questions to ask yourself when deciding which project would be right for you.
1) What's your passion?
Passion in the work puts perfection in the work! Ask yourself what is important to you. Do you believe in saving endangered animals? Do you feel strongly about education for all? Or even sports for all? We deliver best when we are passionate about what we are doing. Find the project that develops a deeper insight to your area of interest so you can take plenty away from it. Volunteering is not easy work but if you sign up for something you genuinely care about you will most likely have fewer tough times and leave with wonderful memories.
2) What's your budget?
Once you have decided on your budget, the second thing to consider is whether the desired project is good value for money? Many volunteer projects do not pay and you are therefore without income for however long your programs lasts, or however long you choose to stay. It is therefore, worth looking at what is included in the project you choose and any additional costs. You should also care about where your money goes. A good volunteer organisation will have no issues explaining what you’re paying for and will share the breakdown of the cost for you.
3) How to find the right volunteer organisation?
A good place to start would be choosing the right volunteer organisation for you. There are tons of volunteer organisations out there. Volunteering abroad has become extremely popular, and rightly so. It is one of the most rewarding and inspiring ways to travel. The first thing to ask yourself is whether the values of the organisation fit with what is important to you?
4) Is the work you're doing focused on being ethical & sustainable?
The people and animals the project aims to benefit should be the main focus. The best volunteer organisations are committed to offering projects where there is a genuine need for volunteers rather than external demands. The project should contribute towards the overall goals and have a long term commitment to the people, animals and area it is focusing on. Volunteers should support local staff rather than replace them as well as building long term relationships within the destination countries. You’ll have a much more rewarding time feeling like you’re working with the local community.
5) Is the organisation well known/big?
Some of the best volunteer organisations are very small but have well established relationships with the teams they work with in their destination countries. It is worth finding out how long the organisation has offered projects in the country you’re interested in and making sure they have a long term commitment. Choosing the organisation that is right for you should be through reputation and personal values keeping in mind that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. However, there are obviously great well known organisations too. As long as the organisation is run ethically and makes an impact within the community you shouldn’t be worried.
6) What assistance do you get?
Is there any preparation or guidance involved before heading off? It is a good sign if a volunteer organisation wants to help you prepare for your adventure of a lifetime. As the saying goes “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, a prepared volunteer is going to make a better impact and even settle into the new way of living wherever that might be! Once you’re over there who is looking out for you? A good organisation will introduce you to your local contact team who should be on hand to answer any questions you have and support you during your work.
7) What are the hours like?
This sounds fairly obvious, but rather than being left unhappy and worn out find out what the working hours will be. A good organisation will be able to tell you what you will be doing and what your working day will look like.
So there you have it, a short guide which will hopefully help you choose the right project! Volunteers have the chance to experience a country on a deeper level, learn about the issues within communities and can contribute towards making a meaningful impact. Volunteering is by no means easy work, but without all of the hard work and dedication where is the reward?!
The most important thing is to be realistic with your expectations. You will not change the world whilst working on the project, but volunteers make a difference by recognising no task is too small or insignificant and who knows you might change the world for someone or something!