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Choosing an Organization

The ultimate success of your volunteer experience will be directly related to the amount of thought and self-reflection you do prior to choosing a placement organization and beginning your adventure. Initially you need to determine your motivation and interests. Organizations differ in the programs they offer. Having an idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it will enable you to narrow down your choices of organizations. You can then zero in on those which have programs that suit your interests. Some organizations offer very diversified programs and others are highly specialized. The List of Organizations is divided into five groups to facilitate your search. The groups are: Diversified programs, Health, Professional Services, Teaching and Faith-Based.

Following are some questions a prospective volunteer should consider before studying the various organizations:

  • How long would I like to volunteer for?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What type of work would I like to do that will contribute to a fulfilling experience for all concerned?
  • Do I have special talents that I can bring to my experience?
  • Do I have a language ability or cultural background that can enhance my volunteer work?
  • Would I like to be with a particular age group or will I be comfortable with all age groups?
  • Do I have health or physical concerns that would influence my choice of organizations?
  • Would I like to work for an organization based on a particular religious faith?
  • Will I have the resources to take care of my expenses at home while I am away?
  • Will I have extra money to spend where I’m volunteering?
  • Am I prepared to eat food that may be very different from what I’m used to eating?

A prospective volunteer must also consider what questions should be asked of an organization. The support and services of international volunteer organizations can differ in many ways. You must give some forethought to examining what you expect the organization to provide to you both prior to, and during, your overseas service. Following are some questions that you should ask organizations that you’re investigating.

  • What type of programs does the organization offer?
  • What countries does the organization operate in?
  • What are the lengths of the organization’s programs and what time commitment must the volunteer make?
  • How long has the organization been in operation?
  • How long has the organization been working with its overseas partners, if they have them, and who are they?
  • What are the costs of the programs and do the costs include transportation, lodging and insurance?
  • Will the organization provide help and direction to obtain proper documentation such as passport, visas, vaccinations, etc?
  • If lodging is included in the program, what type of lodging is it: private, community, family, urban, rural, etc.?
  • Does the organization have a training and support program?
  • Will the organization give you the contact information of former volunteers? (A list of suggested questions to ask volunteers is included in this section.)
  • What health services are available at the program location?
  • Is the organization a nonprofit and therefore tax-exempt? If so, check with your accountant about how you may claim the exemption.
  • Are communication facilities available at the program location and, if so, what kind?
  • Will I have free time for travel and/or sightseeing?
  • Does the organization have a particular political agenda? If so, is it an agenda that you feel comfortable with?

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all details and rates directly with the organizations in question before planning your international volunteer opportunity.