There are many, many volunteer organizations worldwide. If you are inspired to do it, there will be something to fit your needs. Some are very structured, with set dates, locations, fees, and requirements, others are quite flexible and able to integrate whatever you’ve got to give. Typically, the larger an organization is, the less able they are able to accommodate the many various possibilities, so they become more planned and structured as a way to keep projects moving forward rather than administrating to every inquiry. But smaller organizations are often happy to have anything and anyone who is able and willing to help further their cause.
Most of the opportunities you will find are funded by the volunteer. That may sound a little strange, you’re paying to volunteer?? But you are paying for the cost of travel, accomodations, food, administration and organization. Often there is cultural events and training included also. So the cost is quite similar to what you’d pay for a vacation of that particular length anyway, but the experience allows not just travel, but an experience in immersion into the culture, a quick acceptance by the locals, and a chance to do something life changing for both the volunteers and the recipients.
Here is a list of groups that advertise particularly to family trips for volunteering, but there are many other organizations. If you’re looking for a particular country, try looking it up that way. If you’re looking to help with medical, teaching, development of septic or clean water systems, animal rescue, etc., then simply look up based on that particular niche. The following list is not comprehensive, but rather some of the top groups for family volunteering.
Here is a link to a resource guide for families considering volunteering. It offers advice on how to plan and how to prepare. It also helps identify important issues for the family to help guide the experience you chose. Is the activity most important? Is the location most important? It is a good place to start so that your priorities and goals are clarified and you are able to analyze and choose the experience that is right for you.
Global Volunteers will take families of all ages and make-ups, but each child 12 and under must have one adult traveling with them. With three decades of experience, they have developed a “unity” among their volunteers to approach any project with teamwork amongst the volunteers as well as with the locals. You have to review each site and opportunity as they each have different age limits and requirements. They are a private, nonprofit, with no religious or government funding so the volunteers pay for their own trips. Children’s rate is 60% that of an adult. The cost is quite similar as it would be for a trip to the location you choose.
They have a diverse range of countries in which they operate including Indonesia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Tanzania, Argentina, Bali. Some of the programs more suited for families includes the Childcare programs and Conservancy. Trips can range from 1-24 weeks. Their fees are easily referenced on their website and depend on the location of the trip as well as the length of the trip.
Projects Abroad has a wide range of activites and places and can accommodate families with children ages 4 and up. They are quite flexible about how many people, ages, dates of travel and locations. You can check out their site for a list of locations, activities and fees. They also have a Global Gap Year program which costs almost $17,000 pounds, but includes all plane tickets, various sightseeing, and activities. This sounds like an awesome adventure for anyone able to do it.
GoEco has a wide range of options based around the ecosystem including giant pandas in China and turtle preservation in Greece. They have select programs that they recommend for families, and also a section for teen volunteers.
National Trust was founded in 1895 and has been around ever since. They offer everything from a one day beach clean up to extended stay opportunities where you integrate into the village to incorporate a program.
One of the co-founders of this organization volunteered abroad with her family and found it incredibly rewarding. As she states, she knows what does and doesn’t work for families while volunteering. If you are over age 10, you can volunteer at elephant project Thailand. They state that they help elephants have a chance to live free. There is a Sea Turtle Project in Costa Rica where you live in a homestay, so have a chance for cultural immersion. Or you could do Elephant Tracking in Namibia, Africa or bear tracking in Sweden. There is also dolphin research in Croatia.
They offer a wide variety of opportunities in Nepal, medical and wellness, water purification, environmental cleaning, teaching and education, etc. Families stay with host families and are used as role models for the communities through developing close bonds and immersion in the native culture.
Go Abroad is like a travel agent for programs. They have many interesting options including high school abroad, volunteering abroad, adventure travel, teaching English in a foreign country, study abroad and other options. They have travel partners in many regions and are affiliated with many programs if you aren’t sure what you are looking for yet.
Have you worked with any of these agencies? Please share your experiences with them in the comments below.
Have you worked with other agencies? Please share in the comments which agency you worked with, where, what the experience was and if you liked it.
If you wrote a blog about the experience, please share the blog on the Travel Directory.
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