26 March 2012

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

You could:

  • 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!