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Where to find independent international volunteer opportunities

So where does one find volunteer opportunities in another country from the comfort of their home computer? We're glad you asked because (warning: shameless Idealist plug ahead) one of the best places to find international volunteer opportunities is on our very own website, Idealist.org. You can browse by country or search by keywords, area of focus, location, dates, skills or language needed, and other criteria.

While we're confident that we've got one of the most comprehensive international volunteer opportunity databases online (we know, shameless plug), by no means are we the only game in town and there are definitely other sites you should check out. For example, if you're headed to South America, you might want to peruse VolunteerSouthAmerica.net. Going to India? Consider visiting iVolunteer.in. Many countries have national volunteerism organizations that host searchable databases of in-country opportunities while many larger urban areas also have a volunteer center or other organization that centralizes local volunteer postings.

Another way to go is to seek an affiliate or chapter of an organization you already know; for example, you could check to see where in the world Habitat for Humanity is accepting volunteers. Also, consider emailing larger international bodies like Oxfam and Red Cross/Red Crescent to see if they have partner organizations who accept volunteers in the country you intend to visit. Don't forget to also talk to friends and friends of friends who might have volunteered in that part of the world as well as potentially ask fellow travelers in networks like CouchSurfing and JourneyWoman.

Yet another possibility is to see if volunteer opportunities exist at your accommodations. For example, many Hostelling International hostels organize short-term volunteer projects as well as will have a good idea of which local organizations might need volunteers.

Finally, if you just can't find a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests, timeline, and skills, don't be afraid to make up your own. Focus your research less on finding the volunteer position and more on finding the right organization—one place to search is on Idealist.org. Then spend your time learning about their mission and activities and come up with a plan or project for how you can assist them as a volunteer. Run it by them and be prepared that not all organizations have the capacity to take you on; after all, they don't know you and just may not have the time or interest to give your idea a try. However, if you keep looking, chances are you'll find a good fit somewhere.

Identified a few organizations and ready to start researching them more in-depth? Click here.