Volunteering abroad is something we should all try to experience at least once in our lives, and it is indeed on many people’s bucket lists. It provides the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a whole new culture while also giving back to the local community.
With volunteering becoming more and more popular, there are an extensive range of programs to choose from. So, how can you pick the right program from you? Where do you start?
We’ve put together 5 quick and handy tips to help you on your way to finding the right program for volunteering abroad to fit in with your skills and your need.
Create your goals and consider what you want
Before you even begin choosing a program, you should carefully consider what it is you’re looking for. This probably sounds obvious, but it really is essential. What do you want to get out of your trip? Are there any specific destinations that you would love to explore or a language you really fancy learning? This is your chance. Think about whether you want to live with a family, work outdoors, and do you even have a budget for your travels?
Speaking of a budget, you probably didn’t expect volunteering to cost much. However, depending on the type of work and where it takes place, volunteering abroad can have quite an impact financially. This is especially true when you consider that you may be responsible for covering your own travel expenses. The good news here is that a lot of the expenses you cover out-of-pocket may be considered tax-deductible by the IRS as a charitable contribution. At the very least you will need a specific type of tax calculator, although you might be better off consulting with a professional since there are a lot of rules and regulations surrounding whether or not the expenses you incur when volunteering are tax deductible.
What skills can you offer a foreign community?
This is another one that may sound pretty obvious, but don’t overlook this question. Volunteer projects work well when you can contribute in the most meaningful way possible. Do you have expert computer skills? Can you build? Are you great with kids? Perhaps you’re a teacher? Your skills play a big factor in picking the right volunteer abroad program.
Do as much research as you can
This is where things start to get a little tougher. Pick out a couple of programs that you are interested in and dig a little deeper. Find out what options they offer and if they fit your requirements and skill set.
Read reviews and talk to past volunteers
Before you settle on a particular program, you need to get a decent idea of what it’s like from a more objective point of view. So, get online and read as many reviews as you come across. Check out interviews with previous volunteers who describe their volunteering experiences in depth. They may give you tips and discuss the things they would’ve liked to do differently. Their critical feedback is also a good way to gauge if the program will fit your needs.
Talk to the program provider and ask as many questions as needed
Your last step before settling on a volunteer program is to gain as much insight as possible into the organisation. You can really tell a lot from a quick phone call or a couple of emails. If the organization is transparent and happy to answer your questions about where the money goes, you can be sure they are a reputable operation. If anything feels off, trust your gut.
These 5 tips are a good starting point for choosing your volunteer program. Just make sure the one you pick fits in with your requirements.