Taking part in a volunteer project has become almost a rite of passage for many young Americans. The Volunteer Tourism Report by ATLAS found that 1.6 million people volunteer every year, the majority of them from the USA. And in the ten years since that report was written, volunteer tourism has seen a surge in popularity, particularly among the young.
See the world and make a difference – what could be better? Here, we run through some points to keep in mind to make sure your overseas volunteering adventure is everything you want it to be.
Check with the experts
There are so many worthwhile projects out there, you would think this would be easy. Unfortunately, the volume of people wanting to get involved has given rise to some shady practices of “voluntourism” where people are given the impression they will be doing something worthwhile, and asked to hand over several thousands of dollars, only to find themselves on a second-rate tour thinly disguised as a volunteer program.
Entrepreneur, fundraiser, and philanthropist Elliott Broidy has been at the heart of numerous charitable projects over the years. He says it is always essential to check the credentials of the charity that is behind the project, to make sure it is a genuine organization. Broidy regularly shares information on the charities he’s involved with on his Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes we feel that because we are dealing with a charitable organization it would be wrong to question them in any way. Any genuine organization will be happy to answer as many questions as you like and will put you in touch with people who have been there before you.
Find out as much as you can about the project, but also remember the pragmatic questions. Where will you be staying, what will be available to eat and drink, and what sort of backup will be there in case of illness or emergency? If they seem snippy or reluctant to answer your questions, that could be a red flag that it is time to look at another option.
Travel the world and make a difference
Volunteering is, without question, one of the most important and memorable of life experiences. Just make sure you do it right and take advice from those in the know to ensure it is as rewarding and worthwhile as it can be, both for you and for those you are setting out to help.