About Author

We invite our community members to share their experiences and ideas on how to find a job that makes a difference. Want to contribute? Email us here


  1. Great article, Paulina. I tried to go to your website, vofair.org, but I got a 403 forbidden website error. :( Seems like it would be a good site to get started with international volunteering.

    • Dear Sara,

      I hope you could enter the website later on, it was so unfortunate that our server had some issues just at the moment of publishing of this article. If you need any help in the future, you can write to us directly: contact@vofair.org

  2. I stumbled upon this article a few hours after having been offered an internship position in South Africa! I’m happy to say that I asked and received positive answers to all of these questions. The trip is on!

  3. To select a good opportunity is very challenging nowdays! Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain some experiences in many ways! But often it is all about the money. The industry behind it is growing and not working hand in hand with international NGOS or the civil society. They are sadly profit driven. Whether you’re looking to take a gap year before university, or want to use your summer break to do something different, many companies advertise all over the web that they are the safest and the one with the best quality. Thousand of promises create a wrong picture. In most cases it is best to volunteer directly with the Organization, that’s why an initiative such as VOFAIR is the perfect way to organize your stay. The companies often will create a feeling, that traveling or volunteering directly with local Volunteer Organizations or local schools, placements is dangerous. This is wrong! Some companies will not even give you travel and placement details until 2 weeks before the starting date (They worry it creates to much work or volunteers go directly to the placement not having paid the fee yet). Also there are many websites helping you to organize your own stay. You will safe money and you can donate more. Check out our facebook page to see how to fiend local projects and how to avoid spending more than u should.

    The truth is that the companies hardly know what is happening in the country they work in (sometimes the local partner they signed up with does).
    The truth is that they know hardly anything about the accommodation nor do they care that they are sustainable or with families who really need volunteers.
    The Truth is that you will often not know anything about your work before you arrive if you go with a company (creates also to much work/questions)

    The Truth is that NOT even one company will give you proof on how the money ahs been spend and what the impact was. They may tell you what goes to the local partner, but from there on they have no idea what happens. They will also not give you reports from audits.

    There are thousand reasons to sign up with an organization with VOFAIR rather then wth a company. The companies websites are full of promises, I have recently seen even one company (I VHQ ) saying they provide trainings for their local partners. Yes, they may do that. But they call it a training if they have briefed you an hour on volunteerism. Ask for proof, ask for reports. It is your right as a potential custommer! So be careful, when you choose a company and read very careful, what you have to expect!

    Visit our facebook page for more advice: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Responsible-Volunteering/270333629677425

    • Hi guys!

      I would like to inform you with great pleasure that we have launched a VOLUNTEER VERIFIER programme for those who wish to travel with a mission! Please check it out at our fb page: VOFAIR.ORG or the main website (www.vofair.org). VOFAIR´s team works completely free of charge and our verification and certification process is also pro bono. We are not an intermediary of the certified projects – they serve as best case studies to promote fair volunteering and raise awareness and more transparency. We do our little bit, so you can help us out as well! Apply to become a volunteer verifier! Cheers!

      • Hi Paulina, this is GREAT . I am mailing from a hill overlooking the sea with indigenous forests behind me with minimal signal , on the Wildcoast of S.A. where we are just about to enter the world Volunteering as a grass root rural based NPO (It is not about dogs by the way). While researching stuff I came across this . . it is a minefield out there! anyway I will send you our info in a month or 2 and follow up on this. Go well!

  4. Pingback: 10 no-fee international volunteer programs | Idealist Careers

  5. Pingback: 5 ways volunteering can help you find a job and advance your career | Idealist Careers

Like what you're reading? Never miss a post.

Join 14,000 people who receive free daily tips on how to: