Choosing to volunteer abroad can be a stressful process. There are an overwhelming number of organisations to volunteer with and it can be difficult to find the best one for you. While everyone has different specificities that they are looking for with their volunteer experience, there is one thing that most everyone wants when volunteering: to know that the work they are doing is having a positive impact.

There are several ways to ensure that the work you do will in fact have a positive impact on the community you are volunteering with. The first is to find an organization that has long-standing relationships with the communities they send volunteers to. Organizations with these types of on-going relationships tend to work on more sustainable projects that will have lasting impacts on the communities they are intended for. This also helps ensure that the organization is working directly with the communities they are involved with, listening to their needs and providing the proper aid necessary for them to achieve their goals. So how do you find these organizations? Research! Look up the work that the organization does and read testimonials online. This will give you the best, most realistic view into what volunteering with that particular organization would actually be like.

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Once you find the right organization, try to find programmes that best match your skill set. If you have years of experience as a nanny or a babysitter, working with a childcare programme would likely be the best way to make use of your specific talents to benefit the community. This ensures that both you and the organization you will be working with will get the most out of your volunteer experience. Volunteering developed skills you have will have much more of an impact than volunteering with something you have no experience with. A medical student is much more likely to make an impact working in a clinic than he would by building a house.

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Finally, be aware of what you are able to accomplish with your time volunteering. It makes sense that the longer you volunteer at a specific location the larger your impact will be, but this does not mean that shorter-term volunteering is not worthwhile or important. When working with a long-running, sustainable project, any help you offer can make some impact on the good of the organization. Even a small impact can be very important to the bigger picture. You also can continue your impact after you return home from your volunteer experience. Raising awareness to friends and family about the cause you volunteered with and continuing to support the organization can have a great positive impact on the community, even if you are not physically there.

Here at Volunteer Invest, we believe that volunteer abroad experiences should be beneficial to everyone involved. We work with a small number of foundations to ensure that each location we send our volunteers to is in genuine need of assistance. We also carefully review each application to ensure that each volunteers skills are matched with the programme that would best fit them and that all our volunteers are adequately qualified for their work.

We ultimately want to match volunteers with projects that will best suit them and bring the most benefit to the organizations they are volunteering with. We work closely with these organizations to make sure that our volunteers are contributing to the betterment of the community. That’s why we are always thrilled to hear back from our foundations about the positive impact that our volunteers are making.

Watch the video below to hear about how our volunteers are making an impact in Ghana: 

To read about the impact our volunteers are making in South Africa, click here.