There are thousands of volunteer opportunities across the world, and choosing one can be quite difficult. That's where we can help, with our quick and easy 4-step guide.
Step 1: Sort out the practical stuff
Start by asking yourself these questions.
- How long have I got? Volunteer opportunities start from 1 week and can last 2 years.
- How much can I spend on it? Volunteer projects can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. The longest ones will cover your expenses and pay a small wage. Think about what clothes and travel gear you'll need too.
- When can I go? Most volunteer projects operate year-round, but if you want to work in say, a school, you'll need to consider local term times.
- Who else is coming? Some volunteer opportunities will let you volunteer with your partner or a friend. Some can even accommodate your children.
Step 2: Decide if you want to do anything else as well as volunteer
- Do you want to do other activities while volunteering? Many organisations offer social, cultural and outdoor activities with the volunteering, or classes in dance, language or cookery.
- Do you want to travel before and/or after volunteering? Your volunteer organisation might offer tours, or you can incorporate a volunteer project into a big trip.
- Where do you want to go? Most volunteer opportunities are in developing countries. If you can't decide where to go, why not do more than one volunteer project?
Step 3: Decide who or what you want to help
- Work with animals on a game reserve or in a sanctuary
- Teach children or care for them in a school or orphanage
- Train people in business skills
- Protect the environment through teaching, monitoring or research
- Help a community project with fundraising, awareness or planning
- Do essential building and development work
Step 4: What do you want to get out of volunteering?
- Develop professional skills? You could improve your language, teamwork or communication skills, and these can go on your CV.
- Develop specific skills to improve your career? For example, if you want a promotion, you might choose a volunteer opportunity which will develop your leadership skills.
- Develop personal skills? Perhaps you're shy and would like to develop confidence, or you might find that working with different sorts of people would help with your social skills.
- Feel good? That's what volunteering is about, after all!
Now you've had a chance to think about that, you're ready for the next step:
Good luck, and happy volunteering!