Top ten tips to get the most out of international volunteering

9th August 2016
Volunteers and rangers work together on a natural resources project

Volunteering overseas is great.

But it’s important that you make sure that your contribution is genuinely needed and that you will make a lasting impact.

Here at Raleigh International we urge young people to do thorough research before going away.

To help, we’ve put together ten tips to make sure your volunteering makes a positive difference.

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1.    Organisation’s ethos – research why the organisation exists in the first place. What are its aims and values? Do you share the same ethos?

2.    The role of young people – ask why the organisation needs youth volunteers. Where does it feel you can make a lasting difference? Are local young people involved?

3.    Realistic expectations – make sure you know what is expected of you. What will you be doing? Where will you be living? Will you be on your own or in a group? How will you contribute to making a lasting difference?

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4.    Project meets real needs – projects should be designed in collaboration with local partners, who understand the needs of local communities. How does this project fit into a longer-term programme of work that helps meet local and national development plans?

5.    Costs – find out where your money goes. Is the organisation a charity providing public benefit or a private company making profit?

6.    Support and training – will you receive full training and support both before the programme and when you are there?

7.    Safety – make sure the programme has been audited to conform to the British Safety Standard BS8848, the standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK. If it isn’t accredited, then what is the organisation’s safety management system?

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8.    Personal recommendations – speak to people who have been away with the organisation before and are enthusiastic ambassadors for the programme.

9.    Do something you’re passionate about – you will get the most out of a volunteering placement which you’re passionate about and are excited to do.

Trek training in the hills of Morogoro, Tanzania, with Raleigh International, Autumn 2013, expedition 13J. Photos by Anna Lythgoe +44(0)7801819711

10.    Be adaptable – if you want to make a genuine difference then you need to be committed and adaptable. Yes, you will also benefit from volunteering but the main reason you are doing it is to make a difference to others.

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