Tips on how to choose the right volunteer program

There are many reasons to do volunteer work for a good cause. You can, simultaneously, gain valuable work experience, learn new skills, discover a new culture and help an organization that you believe in.

You should note, however, that there are many different volunteering options that can differ by length of stay, type and location. We’ll consolidate in this post a few tips that should help you pick the most suitable volunteer program for you.

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Finding a program that fits your ideals

Ideally, you should help any organization that needs assistance. It is more feasible, nevertheless, to pick a cause that you are already familiar with and believe in. Some people enjoy working with endangered animals, others prefer to do social work with children and the elderly. Always try to find out what the organization’s main goals are and their history in volunteer work.

It really depends on your personality and previous experiences, so finding out what you enjoy should be one of the first steps to narrow down what kind of program you would like to work with.

Knowing the different types of programs and organizations

There can be many different types of volunteer work. In a short-term program, you’ll be providing volunteer service on a short-term basis, focusing mostly on the cultural learning experience. Keep in mind that these programs can be either for-profit or non-profit. In long-term programs usually there are more requirements, such as educational or professional qualifications, and in some cases, there are fees to be paid in order to participate.

Other types of programs include recruitment and placement programs, that will match your skills and character with a certain program, but keep in mind that they usually will only serve as an intermediate will not actually running the actual program you end up working at.  Check What You Should Look For in a Volunteer Organization for some additional information about it.

Contacting other volunteers

There is no better way of knowing about any kind of work other than from someone who has actually done it. Many large volunteer work organizations have an alumni network and online groups that can share their experience with you and answer many different questions you might have and will provide their own personal opinion about the program itself. Try to get as much information as possible from them before making your final decision.

Checking the requirements and planning ahead

As mentioned previously, some programs, especially if they are long-term, require certain professional or educational qualifications. But, without exception, any volunteer work main requirement is commitment. You may have to pay fees and be able to support yourself during your work or move to a different country that does not offer the same amenities that you are used to have back home.

In any case, make sure to get all your questions answered beforehand by the organization, verify their credentials and finally, learn from other volunteers a few extra tips to not have any surprises after you are registered to a program. A good read about What Can Volunteering Get You? might also provide you a different and motivating viewpoint about this type of work.