As I remember how I felt when I was trying to find the right volunteering project for the first time, I want to help you with the Questions you may have, like: Where can I trustful find NGOs? Can I trust websites that provide a huge list of NGOs all around the world? Is there any chance to find a project where I don’t need a big budget? Do I have to pay for everything? Why I have to pay if I am going to work for free?
To answer all these questions I will give you the list of different options you have, to find the perfect volunteering for you:
- If you are European – EVS projects is a must try
- Check out websites that provide a list of NGOs worldwide or Research and contact particular NGO online by yourself
- Find organizations in your homecountry that support projects worldwide
- Be brave enough, buy a flight ticket to your dream destination and find an NGO by yourself
European Voluntary Service (EVS) is a program of European Union.
EVS is for young, active Europeans willing to experience new countries, cultures, language and travel the world while helping local community. Volunteers participate in EVS through a Sending Organization in the country where they live and a Receiving Organization that receives and hosts them during their period of service. Projects last from 2 weeks to 12 months, and as a volunteer you can work in a wide range of fields, such as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare, environment and development cooperation.
EVS provides volunteering within the Europe but there are also project in different parts of the world. The biggest advantage of EVS is that most of your expenses such as accommodation, visa fees, food, insurance, vaccination and pocket money will be covered by EU.
You have two options how to participate in EVS:
- you can choose one of the projects that is already approved by EU or
- you can write your own project.
I chose the first option. What I needed to do in the beginning was to find an NGO in my country that cooperates with EU and support EVS projects. I contacted them and went for the information meeting where I found out more about all the possibilities I had. I chose the project I liked and passed the interview. I had to wirte a motivation letter and CV in English but that’s it for the paperwork.
The big advantage was that everything was already arranged, and I basically just had to pack and go. Moreover, the NGO where I was about to volunteer was working already more than 20 years and they were cooperating with EU for many years so I knew that they have to be very organized and working well.
To sum up – volunteering via EVS project is surely one of the cheapest, safest and very well organized options (as NGOs are constantly in touch and supervised by EU).
So what are you wating for?
For more info about EVS: https://europa.eu/youth/EU/voluntary-activities/european-voluntary-service_en
2. Check out websites that provide a list of NGOs worldwide
There are a lot of websites with list of NGOs around the world that you can browse, find the ones you like and contact them. I used only WORKAWAY website: https://www.workaway.info/
How much will it cost you?
Their policy is that you can search for NGOs without registering but if you want to contact them, you need to register and pay registration fee,(29$ for one individual person for one year or 38$ for 2 persons) which is quite reasonable price.
Regarding the volunteering itself, based on my experience, each part of the world can cost you very different amount of money:
ASIA: you can find very nice projects in Asia where only thing you will have to pay for will be your visa and flight. They will take care of your accommodation, food and local transportation.
SOUTH AMERICA: apart from your visa, flight and transportation, most of NGOs ask volunteers to pay for accommodation and food as well, which is approximately 200-500 $ a month.
Does it sounds unbelievable?! Why you have to pay if you are willing to work for free?
Answer is simple. Based on my experience, most NGOs in developing countries are not supported by government and even if some of them have a few sponsors they use the money for the particular needs of the community. Therefore they don’t have enough money to sponsor accommodation and food of volunteers. If you imagine that it’s not only one volunteer but it might be 10-30 or even more, the expenses can get pretty high…
I also felt very strange to pay for my own work but now when I saw how NGOs in the rest of the world work I can understand the fees. I will give you example from one of my experiences:
I was an English teacher for unprivileged children in very poor area. I prefer working for NGO that provides free education, not the one that will charge the kids so volunteers can pay less. To sum up this answer: I am sure you can find a good comprise-not to pay so much but also have a rewarding experience.
How to choose the right NGO?
- Find out details about the NGO: values, areas they focus on, possible foundations they use, how long they exist…. Then choose the one that fits your skills or interests, even if it sounds challenging, volunteering is a great chance to learn new things, so don’t be scared to accept new challenges
- don’t choose the cheapest option (compare prices in the area where you are going, if there is NGO that is significantly cheaper, there might be a problem)
- always check if the particular NGO has enough reviews (it’s better to choose the one that is already working for a while, otherwise you might be disappointed or robbed!)
- contact former volunteers and ask them about their experience
- check the NGO in other social networks
- don’t pay full price in advance (they will have expenses with you since you will get there so there is no reason to pay for the whole stay), however they might ask you to pay a small fee to be sure you are coming…
3. Find organizations in your homecountry that support projects overseas
Do research about organizations in your country that have projects overseas and might need volunteers or coordinators. This might be another cheap and safe option as those projects are administrated and supervised from your country.
As I am from Slovakia there is a list of organizations that have projects in different countries around the world, try to contact them to get more info:
- Tropicky tim Vysokej Skoly Zdravotnictva a Socialnej Prace sv. Alzbety (Projekty vo viacerych krajinach Afriky a v Kambodzi)
- SLOVAK AID
- Človek v ohrození
4. Be brave enough, buy a flight ticket to your dream destination and find an NGO by yourself
Who should choose this option?
- Time – if you have only 2 weeks or one month for the volunteering, I wouldn’t choose this option. I recommend it for people that are willing to volunteer at least for 3 months as it can take time to find an NGO you will like
- Money – You need budget for the beginning (for flight, transportation within the country, accommodation and food for at least 2-3 weeks), so it’s not low-budget option
- Adventurous soul – It’s perfect for someone who likes to discover new places and talk to locals ‘cause that’s exactly the way how you can find perfect volunteer organization for you.
- Location – Choose location where are some NGOs or you know that people are open to accept volunteers, it doesn’t even have to be an NGO, it can be a small business that you can help out with
- You can find NGO that will be perfect for you – cause you will personally meet the people you will work with and see the place
- You can stay in the awesome place. However much you will googlesearch places you wish to go, there is nothing better than going and exploring those places by yourself. You would be surprised that there are such an awesome places that are yet not known and you will be able to get to know them only if you get to the country
- You can talk to locals or other travellers when you get to the country and they can recommend you pretty amazing places they already have good experience with
- Lastly, It’s gonna be your choice, so no regrets!
Good luck with choosing and have a great experience!