How to Volunteer When Living Abroad
When living abroad, there are many great reasons to try out volunteering in your local
community. For you, volunteering is a chance to learn new skills, and meet new people. Not
only is this great for your own personal development and finding new friends, but it can also be
very helpful in establishing a professional network in your community. Volunteering can even
lead to paid work in some circumstances.
Plus, volunteering is an amazing way to give back to your local community and to assist others.
It feels great to know that your time is making a big difference to the lives of other people.
Volunteering opportunities exist across a range of sectors but some common areas include:
aged care, animal care, conservation, human rights, youth, refugees/asylum seekers, health,
people with disabilities and mental health. Even a few hours a month can make a big difference
in these areas.
Tips About Volunteering
Don’t feel confined to only volunteering in areas where you work or have pre-existing
skills. One of the fun things about volunteering is trying out something different that can
be totally unrelated to your field of work.
Be prepared to go through an application process with references and/or a criminal
history check, as often volunteering means working with vulnerable people like children
or elderly people.
Volunteering can usually fit in with all schedules but be honest and upfront with what you
can and can’t commit to. It’s better to be honest and volunteer one day a month then to
overcommit initially. You can always increase your commitment if it suits later.
If you are looking for a quick way to meet people, volunteering in a charity shop, café or
bar is a great way to become a part of the local community and to quickly make lots of
Where to Find Volunteering Opportunities Offline
Often volunteer opportunities are with smaller, local groups so your best bet can be looking at
offline resources like newspapers and community noticeboards. Here are some good places to
Community noticeboards, for example at grocery stores or other community hubs
Facebook groups for the local community
Council websites or offices
Where to Find Volunteering Opportunities Online
One of the easiest ways to get involved with volunteering in the local community is to join a
service club. They usually have a full calendar of volunteering and social events, and you can
just join when you’re available! Some well-known ones include:
Rotary – https://www.rotary.org/ – one of the most famous community service groups,
with a motto ‘service above self’. They get involved in lots of local and international
projects such as ‘Rotary Against Malaria’. Rotary tends to attract an older crowd.
Rotaract – https://www.rotary.org/en/get-involved/rotaract-clubs – if you are under 30,
you may prefer joining a Rotaract club! They do much of the same work as Rotary clubs,
but they are for people aged 18 – 30. They usually work closely with other clubs in the
Lions – http://lionsclubs.co/Public/ – a similar organisation to Rotary, Lions is a well-
established service club with branches all over the world.
Zonta – https://www.zonta.org/ – a service club that is run entirely by women and gets
involved primarily with causes that offer assistance to women and girls around the world.
Other places to find volunteering opportunities include:
Go Volunteer – http://govolunteer.com.au/ – a database of Australian volunteering
Do it – https://do-it.org.uk/ – a database of UK volunteering opportunities
Volunteer.gov – https://www.usa.gov/volunteer – a database of US volunteering
Lonely Planet (France) – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/work-and-study – a good
place to get started for French volunteering opportunities
Better Place – https://www.betterplace.org/de/discover-volunteering – a database of
volunteering opportunities in Germany
European Youth – https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/project_en – a great database of
volunteering opportunities in the EU. You don’t need to be an EU citizen to apply
UN Volunteers – https://www.unv.org/become-volunteer – opportunities to volunteer on
global UN projects – often these opportunities require a significant time commitment,
If there is a particular cause you are passionate about, another good option is just to search for charities in that area. A good way to get started is simply to search for charities that work in your area of interest, and then check out their websites. Most will have a ‘volunteer’ page, however, you can also send them a message directly to ask about opportunities in your area.