So now that you've decided you're going solo and have identified a handful of international volunteer opportunities or organizations, it's time to find out if they are a good fit for you; again, you can either do this research before you leave home or just skip straight to steps 2 and 3 (omitting the need to email or call for the most part) once you arrive in the community.
Here are three different methods to determine whether an organization is right for you:
Keep in mind that not all organizations will have websites, and even those that do may not have all the information you seek. This isn't necessarily a sign that they aren't well-managed or legitimate; it could just be that their website is incomplete or they don't have the capacity or resources to launch one. You can always ask them detailed questions yourself in later steps of the research process.
Next, go to your favorite search engine and plug in the name of the organization (be sure to use quotes around it to filter the results better). See what types of links come up—news articles, former volunteers' blogs, message boards, their organizational partners' websites—and just start reading. Also, consider going to travel or service message boards (like these discussion forums on Idealist) and posting queries of your own.
We really can't stress this enough: former volunteers will hands-down be your most valuable resource for learning more about volunteering with an organization.
Having said that, don't forget to also talk to others you already know. See if family and friends, or even friends of friends, have any experience with this organization. Talk to people at your job, school, place of worship. Again, the more opinions you can gather, the more well-rounded your data will be to determine if this organization is right for you.
When you're ready, click here to read a list of suggested questions to research online and ask the organization…
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