How to Volunteer Abroad for Free
Volunteering abroad can be the best experience of a lifetime, it is a great way to make your travel experience meaningful as you have the potential to provide positive benefits to the host community, you can also develop your professional and personal skills during your stay. Various top organizations and Non-profit organizations, NGOs all over the world are always in need of volunteers who would help to support their initiatives and work in their different capacities.
Most volunteer programs request a fee to cover all the expenses which would be related to your stay throughout the program. However, there are also some organizations and NGOs who do not charge a volunteering fee from their volunteers. All expenses are therefore paid for by the organization during the program. For this free volunteer program, all it means is that there’s no participation fee, but you may still need to pay for your housing, food, air ticket and probably in-country transportation. Although, some organizations and projects offer housing and or food as part of the volunteering arrangement.
Free volunteering opportunities abroad might require a time commitment that can range from a few weeks to a month or several months. Some volunteering programs also require specific skills which might be needed, but there are also other organizations that are willing to train their volunteers, especially if they are to take part in long-term programs.
10 Ways on How to Volunteer Abroad for Free
When contemplating volunteering abroad for free, it is very important to consider all relative costs and expenses which you will likely incur. While some organizations provide accommodation, transportation, airfare and food and no volunteer allowance is paid, others may not provide all these other essential needs for your stay in the program. Bear in mind that some volunteer projects may require you to fundraise money to cover the costs of the support you receive during your time at the volunteer program, and some will normally expect you to pay for your expenses in addition to the money you raise during this time. If you are planning to volunteer with a free program, especially one that is locally run, try to go in with realistic expectations. Below are outlined ways in which you can get to volunteer abroad at low cost or at an absolutely free expense.
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- Find your destination: there are a lot of volunteering programs abroad for different classes of people. Some of these volunteer projects are locally run on based on international level whichever one you chose to go for it is important to search for a destination or potential host community. Before considering to volunteer abroad, the first time to do is to find a location or host community you would like to volunteer for as this will help you efficiently get good research programs and also help you know the cost involved.
- Why you want to go there: aside wanting to go and volunteer abroad, it is important to know the reason and motivation behind why you want to go there and volunteer. It may be to improve or learn a new language, or to acquire new skills to add to your resume, help the less privilege and so many other things. Knowing your goals and purpose for volunteering will help your search for good volunteering programs considerably. The more you know about what you want to accomplish in the volunteer program, the more likely you will find a program that will benefit you in so many ways and also you will be able to make a good impression on your host community.
- Do your research: once you find out where and what you need to gain from the volunteer program, it is then necessary to do more research about your chosen volunteer program. Find out where the money gained is been applied or used, whether they donate all their proceeds or use it for marketing cost or whatever it is they are using it for. Understand both your motivation and the objectives of the organization where you want to volunteer. If you think the obvious purpose of an international volunteer program should be to help the poor and oppressed people and that the motivation of the organization you want to volunteer for is of a different opinion from what you think it should be, you sure know then to stay off such program if there are conflicts of interest.
- Try to get to know the living condition of your host community: it is important to know how you would be living once in your host community, are you going to be comfortable in these new situations and environment. Can you drop your smartphone and concentrate fully in the volunteer program. Will you be able to manage whatever kind of food or water you are presented with. What if the living conditions are harsh, would you be able to cope and not leave and the program. These are questions you should be able to answer yourself before venturing into the program. It is wise to know your comfort level.
- Showcase your skills: the best way to volunteer abroad for free is to work with an organization or NGO that really needs your abilities and experience. Some of these organizations make specific requests for the skills needed from their volunteers. While many people can teach English abroad, help to feed the hungry, nurse sick children, build houses, or hang out with kids, organizations really love it when you can offer a specialized skill for the program. Whether you are in the medical field, teaching, nursing or even dentistry, it is almost a sure way to volunteer abroad at low to no cost at all. IT knowledge is also an added advantage and in high demand as a skill for volunteering abroad.
- Raise funds: If you have the determination, you can source for your funds to travel and volunteer abroad yourself either from friends or family. You can even set up a go fund me account. Persuade people to pay for your volunteering experience by showing your skills and promise them something good in return. If you are talented, you can supplement your online campaign by holding your own fundraising event. Many people also approach companies and organizations as well. The possibilities of getting these funds are endless, and all you need is just determination and being a little creative.
- Network: talk to people around you, either in your workplace, church or school. People who have volunteered before to get more insights on how they were able to accomplish their programs. You can also be able to find out about good volunteering programs, what they do and the cost of travelling. You might even be able to get a great volunteering program that is not listed online. It is noteworthy to make enquires before embarking on an international volunteer research program. If you have questions, ask them and endeavour to get your answers.
- Find a program that can use your skills and expertise: If you are considering an international volunteer program, and you have a lot of knowledge and experience that can be useful, it is wise to search for volunteer research programs who are in need of your skills and experience. Look for groups with people like you, such as Engineers without Borders, Plumbers without Borders and Farmers to Farmers and so on. Anyone who has had a career and knows how to organize people, manage projects and get things done has valuable skills.
- Participate in an extended assignment: once you become successful to travel, it is important to participate in all assignments given to you and to do them well. Most free volunteer programs usually have a longer-term or duration for the program, hence you should be prepared to stay through it all. In general, the more specialized and focused the resources and skills being used in a volunteer assignment, the shorter it can be and still have benefits.
- Choose a program where you can promote local self-sufficiency: without proper attention, volunteer programs can create and perpetuate a culture of dependency. At some point, local residents should be able to take on the roles previously filled by the volunteers. Find an organization that is well connected with the host community where you will be carrying out your program. In some cases, the group will have a local office, while in others, the sponsoring organization will be tightly connected with a local partner. This local presence will help you personally and better ensure the success and value of your volunteer work. On the personal side, working with locals will help you become better prepared; locate lodging and transportation and get you oriented. Professionally, a good local presence will prepare the situation for your arrival and see that there is continuity and follow-up after you leave.
Volunteering abroad is always a great opportunity to see and experience a new country, weather and culture in a different way than through travel for pleasure. In volunteering abroad, you not only get to share your skills, experience and knowledge with your host community, you also get to discover and immerse yourself in new things and different living conditions of people you want to help in your host community.
Unfortunately, the price tags on many volunteer programs are enough to discourage many committed volunteers, but the good news now is that, there are other options of free or low-cost volunteering programs for volunteers from all over the world online and some of these NGOs and organizations go as far as providing food, travel expenses and accommodation as well for it’s volunteers throughout their stay in the program.