Volunteering: ethics & opportunities

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. And volunteering can also provide a range of personal benefits.
(c) Can Stock Photo / dacasdo
Volunteering is great way to contribute constructively. Depending on your circumstances and interests you may choose to do something locally, or you may wish to travel abroad for a gap year, work break, or holiday. Network for Good offers ten tips on volunteering wisely to help you matching your interests with appropriate causes to make the biggest difference.

Once you have been working as a volunteer you gain important experience and capabilities to put on your resume. The article Helping volunteers to market their experience on their resumes, offers some useful advice to job seekers unsure of how to market their volunteer experience during the job search process. And don’t forget that volunteering can also be a family experience, so check out the Responsible Family Volunteering page for a few ideas to get you and your family started.

The first few links here link to articles that ask you to question whether that volunteer opportunity really addresses the values that you are seeking to model.

Volunteering and Voluntourism: The Good, The Bad, and The Questions You Should Ask
Post 2018 – Audrey Scott
This post highlights the importance of thinking about the possible unintended negative consequences of volunteering and voluntourism – especially as the volunteer “industry” as a whole is currently estimated at $2.8 billion in annual revenue, and impacts directly on communities. She goes on to indicate the ethical considerations you should be aware of, and which questions can you ask to better ensure that your actions and any financial contribution are aligned with your values and expectations.

US Campus Compact website – current
An excellent resource for understanding ethical global service issues. This site amasses evidence-based tools and peer-reviewed research to advance best practices in global learning, cooperative development, and community-university partnership. It is edited and overseen by researchers and practitioners who work with multiple methods and represent diverse fields, all concerned with the question of how to responsibly and ethically grow partnerships between educational institutions and communities.

Links to volunteer organisations and opportunities

The following sites provides some key services to link you with the volunteering opportunity that you are looking for.

Idealist, a project of Action Without Borders
This is a key site for people wanting to make a difference in the world. The Idealist vision is very cool: “we want to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives; where any person who wants to help another can do so; and where no opportunities for action and collaboration are missed or wasted – and we want to do this with you.” Provides opportunites internationally.

Volunteer Abroad with Global Vision International
Looking for a unique international travel experience? Make a difference in some of the world’s most critical conservation and community volunteering projects with GVI. Adventurous individuals can join over 60 projects including challenging Marine Conservation and Wildlife Research expeditions in Africa and Latin America and volunteer teaching and wildlife projects in over 30 countries worldwide.

With an aim of bringing people together, VolunteerMatch is a leader in the US nonprofit world dedicated to helping everyone find a great place to volunteer. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Operates mainly within the US.

Working Abroad
Working Abroad is the international networking service for volunteers, workers and travellers, which offers you the ability to take action for nature and society. Offers an introduction to a wide range of projects in most areas of the globe.

United Planet
United Planet is a leading international non-profit organization devoted to fostering cross-cultural understanding and supporting communities in need. As featured on CNN, United Planet offers one-week to fifty-two-week volunteer programs in 50 countries, called United Planet Quests. United Planet is also a new proud partner with the International Cultural Exchange Federation (ICYE), one of the oldest long-term volunteer federations with a 50 year history, offering 6-month and one-year volunteer opportunities worldwide as an alternative to the Peace Corps. United Planet Quests are open to people of all ages and nationalities, including skilled and unskilled volunteers.

Time Bank
TimeBank is a UK-based national charity inspiring and connecting people to share and give time. TimeBank appeals to people like you who know that their time and skills are in demand – but just don’t know what to do about it or where to start. Provides links to opportunities in the UK and internationally.

UNV – United Nations Volunteer Programme
The United Nations Volunteers is the UN organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It is administered by the United Nations Development Programme.