The quote Proverbs 11:25 says...
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed...”
There is just something about volunteering your time, talent, and treasure that does the soul good. Helping others makes us feel fulfilled. If you’ve resolved to make an impact on your community in 2017, there are an abundance of volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs waiting to help you turn that desire into a reality.
Whether you’re a student, a missionary, or a professional just looking to take a break from the mundane, you’re guaranteed to find a volunteer opportunity where your talents can be put to work to benefit the greater good.
If you have a soft spot for volunteer work and love traveling, check out this list of the ten best volunteer travel programs that we've complied. All of these organizations and programs have raving reviews, so rest assured that, should you decide to embark on one of these adventures, it will be something you never forget (in a good way).
Since 1998, GVI has been committed to their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion for making a difference. Their award-winning projects receive over 2,000 participants each year and provide volunteer and internship opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.
GVI currently has an incredible opportunity in Thailand to volunteer with elephants that have been rescued from working in the tourist industry. Leaving behind their tragic pasts, you will be given the opportunity of helping to rehabilitate these gentle giants.
During your stay in the beautiful mountains of Northern Thailand, you will learn about the history of elephants, behavior, training, biology, and social interactions. You will also be able to observe elephants in their natural habitat.
One week starts at $1,840 and includes meals and accommodations.
Founded by Dan Radcliffe in 2007, International Volunteer HQ has come to be the world’s leading volunteer travel organization. With over ten years of experience, IVHQ offers impactful and affordable volunteer abroad programs in over 35 destinations worldwide.
Through placement in this program, you will help teach and care for children in local daycare facilities. The majority of the children you will have the opportunity to interact with come from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse, or crime.
Volunteers will assist daycare staff by teaching, providing care, and organizing fun games and activities. You do not need to have experience working with children before enrolling.
One week starts at $250 and includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals, and 24/7 in-country support.
Love Volunteers is one of the most affordable ways to volunteer and help local communities in developing countries. Founded by a brother-sister team, Love Volunteers provides impactful and life changing projects in over 34 countries across the globe.
Offering over 120 community-based development programs in healthcare, education, sports and coaching, social services, special needs, construction, law and legal assistance, environmental protection, and more, Love Volunteers is sure to have a program that speaks to you.
The Children's Community Center opens its doors to children from all around the Tirana, mainly those belonging to Roma and Egyptian minorities, street children, and children that are at risk of exploitation. Through this placement, you will assist kids with their English homework, organize exciting and interactive games and activities, as well as help out in the kitchen with meal preparations.
Two weeks start at $360.
Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) is an worldwide organization with volunteering and internship opportunities in more than 20 countries. In the ten years since the organization was established, it has managed to place over 12,000 volunteers in different programs across the globe. Some of the most popular, affordable, and best volunteer abroad programs offered by VolSol include childcare, healthcare, teaching projects, and community development.
The opportunity in Morocco places volunteers with local NGOs who work toward uplifting the society and the less fortunate residing in the city Rabat. As a volunteer, you will provide support by planning and designing community events, provide guidance and assistance to NGOs to help them carry out their work more efficiently, and help NGOs with other administrative tasks.
One week starts at $410 and includes all meals and accommodations.
Cross-Cultural Solutions has been committed to improving the health, education, and economic opportunities for vulnerable women, children, and the elderly for more than 20 years. During those 20 years, they have placed over 35,000 volunteers in various locations around the world including Thailand, Greece, India, and Guatemala.
Ghana's rapidly increasing population has put a notable strain on vital social resources. Though drastic improvements have been made in the country's healthcare, hygiene, and education sectors, disease, malnutrition, and economic divide have all proved to be an obstacle in getting all people the resources they so desperately need.
As a volunteer in Ghana’s Girls’ and Women’s Empowerment program, you will work to effect real social change in a rapidly growing community. Through education opportunities, financial courses, development opportunities, and supporting victims of violence, you will help to create a lasting change and empower the women and girls who will transform their families and communities.
Fathom Impact Travel combines your love of travel with your desire to make a difference. After setting sail from the Port of Miami on the Adonia, you will have the opportunity to participate in various focused activities that will help orient participants to the country’s customs as well as help you build community with your fellow travelers.
When you arrive on land, you can pick from the various impact opportunities available. Activities range anywhere from assisting in the production of water filters to working with teachers and students on activities designed to facilitate English language retention to providing concrete flooring in the homes of poorer communities.
Balcony rooms start at $699, and this cost includes up to three impact activities, although some activities may require a nominal surcharge.
Fronteering specializes in organizing volunteer abroad projects to preserve the environment, wildlife, and indigenous people throughout the world. Simultaneously, Fronteering seeks to provide its volunteers with a real and raw experience into some of the most beautiful and often remote areas of the world. The organization’s vision is to provide real off-the-beaten-path volunteer abroad experiences that actually make a difference.
Ontario is home to a wealth of wildlife including foxes, bears, bobcats, wolves, moose, lynxes, coyotes, and much more. As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity of helping to rescue and rehabilitate sick, orphaned, and injured wildlife. For a minimum of four weeks, you will assist with the daily activities of feeding the animals and will occasionally assist with guiding and educating tourists to the facility. You will also be responsible for catering to the behavioral and biological needs of the wildlife at the sanctuary.
A four-week commitment is required for this experience and starts at $1,095.
Founded in 2007 by Sarah and Oliver Ehlers, the core belief of A Broader View is that the best way to learn about cultural differences is to experience it first-hand. As such, A Broader View has sent over 5,000 volunteers to 245 programs across 25 countries and has raised and distributed more than $1 million in donations worldwide.
The organization’s mission is to provide developing countries around the world with meaningful volunteer programs that both aid the neediest communities and forge a lasting bond between those volunteering and those they have helped.
As a volunteer in this program, you will be located 25-30 minutes from downtown Cartagena in the beach community of La Boquilla. A multi-functional center in the community supports over 300 children/youth on a daily basis who come to study, play, and eat. The center offers free lunches, kindergarten, primary school lessons, monthly health checks, and a safe refuge.
Your role will be to tutor, encourage, educate, and support the children’s needs. You may be required to help with feeding, arrange preschool English games, play in the playground, and help out in the kitchen.
A two-week minimum time commitment is required and starts at $995.
Frontier combines community development, ecosystem protection, and economic growth through collaboration between local communities, researchers, and volunteers of all ages. Founded over 25 years, the organization has expanded to include more than 400 projects in 72 countries across the globe.
The organization’s mission is to conserve the world's most endangered wildlife and threatened habitats and to build sustainable livelihoods for marginalized and under-resourced communities in the world's poorest countries. Frontier also seeks to create solutions that are apolitical, forward-thinking, community-driven, and innovative and which take into consideration the long-term needs of low-income communities.
Through placement in this program, you will be helping to preserve Fiji’s marine and coastal biodiversity. To achieve this mission, you will be helping in the conduction of scientific baseline data surveys of reef areas.
One week starts at $2,095.
10. Trail Management
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Every year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike but only about a quarter make it all the way. Despite hikers’ attempt to leave no trace, this constant flow of traffic brings with it the potential of inadvertently damaging the natural environment.
If you love being outdoors, then volunteering for a trail crew might just be your perfect fit. Volunteers help to manage the trail by keeping footpaths clear of natural overgrowth, building and relocating sections of the path, building and repairing shelters and other structures, and caring for overnight sights.
In addition to the six different crews, there are also 31 affiliated A.T. maintaining clubs servicing various parts of the trail. Since the A.T. spans almost the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, it's probable that a crew or club is working in your area. Best of all, it's free, and you will be provided with food and shelter.