There are many organisations worldwide, including non-profits, which offer travellers the opportunity to experience living in a community as a "local". While some are highly localised, others are international.
From social and educational programs to environmental projects, there's something to suit everyone. Programs range from casual and flexible, through to those which are structured and charged for much like a standard tour package. Either way, you "earn your daily keep" by dint of your physical labour, or by transfer of some of your knowledge and skills to residents in your host community.
At the apex are the long term overseas volunteer programs, where you live and work in a community for up to two years for local wages; and the Humanitarian Aid and Non Government Organisations (NGOs) providing support where a natural disaster or human conflict has occurred, resulting in displaced persons and refugees.
Depending on the organisation or programmes offered, you may or may not need specific skills or qualifications. Read carefully before offering your services. (And make sure you have the correct VISA for your stay in the countries of your visit.)
Pack for a Purpose New "Have a Big Impact in the communities you visit. Simply use a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world. Our mission is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit."
Quid Pro Quo
- Help Stay "HelpStay is a skills-based volunteering platform that connects travellers with Hosts of great projects around the world. Our platform makes travelling meaningful and affordable by allowing helpers to exchange work for accommodation."
- HelpX "is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts."
- Hippohelp NEW "is a free map-based work exchange platform connecting hosts from all over the world with travellers who are happy to work in exchange for free food and accommodation."
- Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) Australia "...website provide host contact details, a description of each property, the work to be done, accommodation and meal situations for WWOOFers. WWOOFers simply browse through the hosts, choose a place they would like to go and contact the host to arrange a mutually suitable time to visit."
- Workaway.info "The world's leading community for sustainable travel and cultural exchange. Promoting Volunteering, Family Exchanges, Homestays, Farmstays, Working Holidays, Travel Buddies, Language Learning and Cultural Exchange. Connect, help & stay with 38000+ hosts from 184 countries."
- WWOOF Korea "WWOOFers come from all around the world and our hosts are located all the way in Jeju Island to the border with North Korea. WWOOF Korea's office is located near Angook station, Buckchon Hanok village in the center of Seoul City."
- Which site is best? Reviews of HelpX, Workaway, HippoHelp, WWOOF NEW A good summary, with pros and cons of some of the above linked platforms.
Work, Study, Share, Contribute
- Australian Business Volunteers "We achieve our mission by using expert volunteers to transfer business skills. Our volunteers are experienced business professionals, typically mid career or in early retirement who undertake short term projects across Asia and the Pacific regions."
- Conservation Volunteers Australia "Conservation Volunteers Australia has partnered with individuals, businesses and governments in the conservation of our unique environment since 1982. In that time we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around Australia and across the world and supported their participation in a diversity of important projects to protect and enhance our environment."
- Cross Cultural Solutions "As a leader in international child development for over 22 years, we know the best approach to creating a sustainable impact is one in collaboration with the local community. We empower passionate volunteers to work alongside an experienced team of local nationals to implement a proven approach to improve children's education and health. This collaboration ensures we generate a sustainable impact on individual children, as well as impacts that can scale to entire communities."
- The New Zealand Dental Association NZDA supports a number of regular overseas dental aid programmes in the South Pacific, Pacific Islands and PNG. With the help of volunteer dental professionals and donations, these programmes help to provide much needed dental care to people who do not have access to basic dental resources.
- Global Vision International (GVI) "Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each manned by our own staff and aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs as well as the objectives of local partners."
- Habitat for Humanity International "Since its founding in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International has built and rehabilitated more than 150,000 houses with families in need, becoming a true world leader in addressing the issues of poverty housing. ... A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need." Whether you're a student, independent traveller or RV/caravanner, HFHI has a project for you to participate in, just about anywhere in the world!
- Habitat for Humanity Australia "To date Habitat for Humanity Australia has built more than 160 homes in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland. Families partner with Habitat for Humanity in the construction of their home. Each partner family receives an interest free, 20 year loan based on 95 percent of the market value of the completed home."
- Pacific Crest Trail Association "...is an eclectic band of trail junkies who champion the needs of the Pacific Crest Trail. From across the country and the world, our team travels throughout the mountain ranges of the American West to support the much larger PCT community in protecting, preserving and promoting the trail."
- Volunteer New Zealand "Browse NZ's Top Volunteer Organisations."
- Transitions Abroad "Now well into its forth decade, Transitions Abroad Publishing has spawned not only the renowned magazine, but also a selection of other essential resources for the person who wants to travel, really travel, without being a participant in mass tourism." Work, Study and travel overseas. A comprehesive web site focused on the print magazine, but with oodles of info. for anyone interested in international study and work.
- UNV Online Volunteering "The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Online volunteering allows organizations and volunteers to team up to address sustainable development challenges – anywhere in the world, from any device. Online volunteering is fast, easy – and most of all, effective. When skilled, passionate individuals join forces online with great organizations working toward sustainable development goals, everyone wins."
- Working Abroad ... "WorkingAbroad now runs programmes in over 30 countries across the world focusing on wildlife conservation and community development projects. We strive to provide people with a guide to taking the first step towards a career that is aimed at the betterment of other people's lives and conserving the natural environment, which is reflected in our logo: Take Action for Nature and Society. We also place a huge importance on ethical volunteering."
Organisations listed here generally provide higher level support and services to whole communities, and as such, employment vacancies or volunteer positions offered, generally require appropriate trades, tertiary or professional qualifications and previous experience. Positions can range from 6 month secondments to 12, 24 months and longer "career" positions.
- Australian Himalayan Foundation "We are working in partnership with the people of the remote Himalaya to improve living standards through better education and training, improved health services and environmental sustainability. We work with local communities, in a long term, sustainable way." Updated
- Australian Volunteers International (AVI) Updated "A leader for 65 years, AVI is an Australian not-for-profit organisation committed to achieving economic and social development outcomes across Asia, the Pacific and the world. The Australian Volunteers Program gives you the chance to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. Contribute to long-lasting, meaningful change and discover how volunteering can enhance your career." Assignments New "Explore assignments by sector to discover the types of skills needed by our partner organisations."
- CARE New "...is a leader within the global movement dedicated to ending poverty. We have become known through our 70 years of helping people for our unshakeable commitment to the dignity of all people." Current Vacancies
- StreetMed Inc. New "provides street level first aid, mental health and advocacy for the homeless and at risk in Western Sydney, bringing together charities with the common goal of helping society's forgotten and neglected, providing mental health and physical first aid as well security and dignity. We achieve this through successful partnerships with like-minded people and organisations."
- Oxfam Australia. "Oxfam Australia was born out of a merger between two leading international development agencies — Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign, working in 79 countries and helping over 22 million people — empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty. We believe that in a wealthy world, poverty is unjustifiable and preventable." Updated
- International Red Cross Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Site Languages; English, Français, Español. "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles." Updated
- Job opportunities at the ICRC "We provide our staff with the opportunity to work in diverse teams around the world and apply their skills in the field to make a genuine difference. We hire professionals with a strong humanitarian motivation for roles in over 80 countries to help people affected by armed conflict and other violence. Below are the main categories in which our activities on the field fall. For these positions we hire at headquarters-level and staff are considered "mobile". For opportunities to work on a local contract in your country of residence, please refer to the relevant country page. We also offer jobs and traineeships at our headquarters. The ICRC does not recruit volunteers." Updated
- Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Australia (Doctors Without Borders) "...is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters". Updated Who We Need New "Médecins Sans Frontières field teams include a diverse set of skilled professionals, including medical and non-medical personnel."
- Mercy Corps "...is a global team of humanitarians who partner with communities, corporations and governments to transform lives around the world. Our mission: to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Our 5,500+ team members work with people in the world's most vulnerable communities across 40+ countries. 87 percent of our team is from the countries where they work." Updated Careers at Mercy Corps New
- Mercy Ships New "... is a global charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978, bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilising people and resources worldwide, serving all people without regard for race, gender or religion." Volunteering New "There are many ways to support Mercy Ships in our global medical mission to help the poor. It takes all kinds, with all skills. There is a need for both medical and non-medical volunteers. There are volunteer positions in a variety of areas including: housekeeping, galley, deck crew, doctors and nurses and everything in between." Pssst... Unique Charity Gifts
- ReliefWeb Updated "... is the leading humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters. It is a specialized digital service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). We provide reliable and timely information, enabling humanitarian workers to make informed decisions and to plan effective response. We collect and deliver key information, including the latest reports, maps and infographics and videos from trusted sources. ReliefWeb is also a valuable resource for job listings and training programs, helping humanitarians build new skills and discover exciting new career opportunities." Jobs. New "Your gateway for humanitarian and development jobs. Search and/or drill down with filters to narrow down the listings."
- Strong Villages provides humanitarian services to those in need around the world. New "A group of Strong Village volunteers see patients in a local community or at our main clinic. Who are these volunteers? Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, EMTs, Other Medical Specialists, and Non-Medical Volunteers."
- United Nations High Commission for Refugees Updated "We strive to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate or resettle. During times of displacement, we provide critical emergency assistance in the form of clean water, sanitation and healthcare, as well as shelter, blankets, household goods and sometimes food. We also arrange transport and assistance packages for people who return home, and income-generating projects for those who resettle." Careers New "Join UNHCR and make a difference."
- Australia for UNHCR "Australia for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency's national partner in Australia, raising awareness and funds to support UNHCR's global emergency response to humanitarian crises. It achieves this through the generosity of Australian individual donors, trusts, foundations and other organisations who donate to and partner with Australia for UNHCR to support its goals". Updated
- List of Australian accredited non-government organisations (NGOs) New "Australian NGOs must be accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to be eligible for funding under the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). The accreditation process provides the Department and the Australian public with confidence that the Australian Government is funding professional, well managed, community-based organisations that are capable of delivering quality development outcomes. The following is a complete list of accredited Australian NGOs with links to their external websites."
- EthicalJobs.com.au New "...is a job-search site for people who want to work for a better world. We list community jobs, environmental jobs, not-for-profit jobs and social enterprise jobs that contribute to a more equitable, more just or more sustainable world." Not an NGO or volunteering organisation, but an excellent place to look for a meaningful livlihood.
- "Humanitarian aid From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" Brief definition and background, with links to many other organisations in the field.
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Curated picks for volunteer tourism and "humanitarian aid and ngos".