International Volunteer Programs
When Projects Abroad was first founded over 23 years ago, we were one of only a few organizations that arranged international volunteer programs. Over the years, the field has grown, and it has become more and more important to research each program individually to determine which is the best match for you. We’ve designed this page to help you get a better grasp of how Projects Abroad differs from other international volunteer organizations.
What are the different types of international volunteer programs?
Today, international volunteer programs come in many different forms. Some of the most popular types are:
Faith Based: Many volunteers choose to go through an organization that is affiliated with a specific religion.
- What does Projects Abroad do? Projects Abroad volunteers come from all over the world and from many different backgrounds. We welcome volunteers of all faiths! For those who would like to practice their faith abroad, our local staff can often help you find a local church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution while overseas.
Government Funded: Programs like the Peace Corps are funded by the government and often provide a small stipend. However, many generally require a four-year degree in a specific field, a long-term commitment, and they only accept a limited number of volunteers.
- What does Projects Abroad do? We have very few requirements and most of our standard Volunteer Abroad and Intern Abroad programs are available to anyone 16 or older. We also offer placements for as little as 1 week up to 1 year. We believe that anyone should be able to do international volunteer work and we aim to accept 90%-95% of our applicants.
How are international volunteer programs arranged?
In Country Arrangements: Programs overseas are usually arranged in one of two ways: the specific placements are set up as partnerships of a larger organization, or the programs are run directly by the organization.
- What does Projects Abroad do? Projects Abroad uses both types of arrangements. Some programs, like Care and Teaching placements, are set up as partnerships with specific schools and care facilities that have requested our help to bring in volunteers. We also offer international volunteer programs, such as Human Rights or Microfinance programs, which are fully funded and run by Projects Abroad.
Staff Support: In some cases, international volunteer programs are arranged by individuals in your home country rather than overseas. This generally means that US or Canadian staff travel to and from the destinations a few times a year but do not remain in-country to support each volunteer.
- What does Projects Abroad do? Projects Abroad has full-time, directly employed local staff, available 24/7 in every destination. We do not contract our in-country work out to a separate company or organization. All of our staff are Projects Abroad employees with extensive training and backgrounds in international volunteer work. The safety and backup that we provide our volunteers with is one of the most important aspects of our programs.
Free or Low Cost: There are a few organizations, specifically government arranged programs, that offer programs for free. In some cases, low-cost programs don’t offer staff support or they contract this work out to reduce the cost.
- What does Projects Abroad do? We do not receive funding from governments and we do not cut corners when it comes to the safety and quality of our programs. Our international volunteer programs are entirely funded by the program fee paid by the volunteer. Without this, our placements would not exist?. Our Prices tab and Why pay to volunteer page are two great resources for further information on program fees.
What sets Projects Abroad apart from other programs?
Start dates: After over 23 years of experience, we have built up a steady presence of volunteers in each country. This allows us to be incredibly flexible with our start dates and durations. Volunteers choose the exact day of the year that they would like to begin their program and the length of time that they would like to stay.
Host families: We believe that host families are the best way to truly immerse yourself in a new culture. Most of our programs and destinations involve staying with a hand-picked host family with 1 or 2 other volunteers.
Our Volunteer Community: Projects Abroad sends 10,000 international volunteers abroad each year. No matter where you choose to go, when you choose to serve, or what you choose to do, you will have a vibrant volunteer community to help you ease into your new life abroad.
Our Track Record: Projects Abroad is one of the oldest and largest international volunteer programs in the world. We are also a long-time member of the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA), which monitors international volunteer programs to ensure safe and worthwhile experiences for each volunteer.
Who do international volunteer programs benefit?
As part of the global economy, we help create local employment wherever we send volunteers. Employing local staff overseas and using their talents and knowledge is important to us. Local knowledge and support enables us to channel the skills of our international volunteers to regions around the world where they are needed. Volunteers learn from their placements and the people they meet while gaining experience in a chosen field. We believe this mutual respect is what cultural exchange is all about.