How to be a Responsible Volunteer

Many of us choose to donate our time rather than our money to a good cause abroad, and this can be a great exchange for both parties involved. On one hand the volunteer is gaining worldly experiences, learning about a new culture and experiencing life in another country. On the other hand an organisation is getting much needed help for their cause.

While volunteering abroad can be a wonderful exchange, there are ways that you can make your experience a responsible and ethical one. I’ve teamed up as Responsible Travel Ambassador for GivingWay, a platform that lists ethical volunteer opportunities around the world. Here’s how it works –

  1. Search volunteering opportunities by location and cause, read nonprofits’ profiles and learn from reviews of other volunteers.
  2. Contact nonprofits to get all information you need and connect with volunteers on the ground or volunteers heading the same way.
  3. Finalise all details of your volunteer trip directly with the local nonprofit you will work with.

GivingWay works with transparent organisations so you know the money you are spending is going to the right place.

Some companies charge excessive amounts of money for volunteering, and sometimes that money does not make it into the hands of the organisation you are volunteering for. Do your research before choosing a platform to volunteer with.

Other volunteer platforms include:

What you need to know about orphanage volunteering

Orphanage volunteering is common amongst travellers. Seeing disadvantaged children can really pull at our heart strings and while there are certainly orphanages out there who need help, many have sadly exploited the volunteer industry, using children as a way to make money and putting them at risk.

The debate about whether people should be allowed to volunteer with children is a long and complicated one. Some say that the constant flow of new volunteers is harmful to a child’s mental health, others say that children should not grow up in institutions and rather we should work to keep children with their families, working to improve circumstances at home.

What’s important as a volunteer is to educate yourself as much as you can about these issues before you decide to volunteer.

Here are some websites that provide information about child protection in the volunteer industry:

Childsafe Intl

Articles related to Ethical Volunteering