Even though volunteering abroad can be very easy, the difficulty comes in choosing from an endless stream of volunteer abroad opportunities. Lonely Planet discusses this dilemma in a book titled, Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide. In this article they say, “the more popular international volunteering becomes, the more difficult it is to pinpoint where to go, what to do and which organization you want to volunteer with. For starters, the sheer number of volunteering opportunities today can be overwhelming. Then there’s the problem that not all volunteering is good volunteering. And, let’s face it, no one wants to become that volunteer who has just built a bridge where no bridge was needed.”
This makes sense when you think about it because you want to make sure that the organization you choose is something that will provide you the opportunity to do something worthwhile. So, let’s take a look at a few things you should look for when deciding on a volunteer abroad program.
Local Community Involvement
One of the biggest indicators of a good volunteer abroad program is that the local community should have some level of involvement. You want to know if members of the local community are involved in the administration of the organization as well on on-site projects. You also want to know if the organization is using local resources like lodging and meals to provide for the volunteers. Another important question is whether or not the local community has fully approved of the projects taking place. You want to be sure that the organization you are choosing has made an effort to serve the host community in every way possible.
Proven Impact Through Volunteer Work
While a picture can speak a thousand words, numbers carry an indisputable weight. Statistics about the various volunteer abroad companies can show you the number of years they have been in operation, their impact through volunteer projects as well as the long-term benefits the organization has had since it began. These are critical pieces of information that proves the company is not simply looking to exploit the host communities for a profit. You will notice that the best volunteer abroad programs are very transparent about their metrics of success.
Affiliations With Professional Organizations
You will also notice that some of the more popular volunteer organizations have typically earned their stripes by having affiliations and memberships with many other organizations in the business. So, if a company has more nods of approval, you will tend to feel more comfortable about their reputation and standing amongst their peers.