Do your research
Before applying to an international volunteer program, make sure it's a good fit. Find a program that will achieve your goals, meet your budget expectations and ensure your safety. Ask the organizations you’re interested in for detailed information and look for news and reports on their operations. Check reviews and stories from past participants and contact past volunteers. By asking lots of questions, you can make an informed decision.
Why do you want to volunteer?
Why do you want to volunteer in this particular place and with this organization?
Which cause, if any, are you supporting?
What motivates you to support this particular cause?
Do the organization’s values and mandate reflect your own?
How will you benefit from this opportunity (e.g., learning, cultural exposure, work experience, making friends, personal/spiritual growth)?
How does the organization benefit from this volunteer program?
What impressions will you leave and what impact will you have when the volunteer opportunity is done?
What do you hope to achieve with your involvement?
What specific skills, knowledge and experience can you contribute?
How will you measure your contribution?
Is this an adventure trip that includes some volunteering or is your main goal to volunteer for a cause?
How safe is the country, the region, the city or village?
Will you need a visa or other documentation related to travel and volunteering?
How does the organization ensure your safety?
Do you have enough information about the program? Is there an orientation prior to your start date?
Where and with whom will you be living?
What risks, if any, are associated with your daily duties?
What support will you have in an emergency?
Who is responsible for you in an emergency? How can you or your family contact this person?
Is there a Canadian embassy or consulate nearby?
Does the organization have an office in Canada?
Will you have access to proper health care and does your health care insurance cover the risks?
Do you need specific vaccinations?
How easy is it to commute between your workplace and the place you'll be staying?
How involved will you be in the community? Is it important to you that you are involved?
What are your specific duties?
Do you have the skills and knowledge needed to perform your duties?
Is training provided? What kind of training and when?
What does a typical work day look like?
How many other people are volunteering at the same time or is it just you?
What kind of people will you work with (e.g., locals, employees of the organization, other volunteers, vulnerable populations)?
Do you have free time?
To whom do you report?
Are there application and program fees?
What is included and excluded in the fees (e.g., flights, insurance, food, accommodation, visa, etc.)?
What is the cancellation policy?
Have you received funding and budget information from the organization?
What other costs do you need to include in your budget?
Where do you transfer your money?
Can you transfer funds through a Canadian financial institution?
Who are you supporting with your money (e.g., company, community, administration, supplies, etc.)?
If the program includes adventure activities or specific travel tours, how do those costs compare with non-volunteering travel packages?
Check with your program
If you are hoping to receive university credit or other recognition for volunteering abroad, contact an advisor in your program to see if this is possible and to learn about criteria. As well, your program advisor may be able to recommend international volunteer organizations based on past students' experiences.
Education Abroad is not affiliated with specific volunteer organizations. However, we support students who want to volunteer abroad and can answer questions about preparing and planning for international activities. Include us in your plans early on and we will help you get prepared.