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Where to find volunteer-sending organizations and programs

So you're ready to begin researching and comparing volunteer-sending organizations and programs. Here are a few places to get started:

  • There are four ways to find volunteer-sending organizations and programs on the Idealist website. First stop should be a visit to our Organizations Promoting Global Volunteering page; there you'll find a list of volunteer-sending organizations from around the world.
  • Next, search our database for a global volunteer opportunity. Not only will you find opportunities posted by individual nonprofits worldwide (check out our section on Going Solo to learn more about following up on these options) but also a number of projects and programs posted by volunteer-sending organizations.
  • Third, browse or search the nonprofit organizations listed on our site. Even if they don't have a specific volunteer opportunity posted, you still may find volunteer-sending organizations with which you'd like to get involved, providing you with contact information to explore the possibility of doing an independently structured volunteer project through one of their programs.

Associations of volunteer-sending organizations

There are several professional associations worldwide for volunteer-sending organizations that engage in such work as developing standards for international service. While established guidelines and practices for the field may vary, checking out the membership rolls for these groups will provide you with another source of potential volunteer-sending organizations to research: and

Launched by the staff of Transitions Abroad magazine, offers both a number of articles pertaining to service abroad as well as listings of nonprofit and for-profit volunteer-sending organizations worldwide.

Another site to search for volunteer abroad opportunities with a volunteer-sending organization or program is


There are a handful of terrific books that provide listings of volunteer-sending organizations; check your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy:

  • If you are particularly interested in a short-term volunteer vacation or "voluntourism" experience, consider perusing the listings of volunteer vacation organizations in "Volunteer Vacations: Short Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others" by Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, and Anne Geissinger (Chicago Review Press, Incorporated, 2006).
  • Similarly, if your interest is primarily in issues of community development, you may want to check out the organization listings in World Volunteers: The World Guide to Humanitarian and Development Volunteering by Fabio Ausenda and Erin McCloskey (Green Volunteers di Fabio Ausenda, 2004).
  • Finally, if you are exploring taking a gap year and considering volunteer service as part of your experience, you might want to read "Your Gap Year: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Year Out the Adventure of a Lifetime" by Susan Griffith (Crimson Publishing, 2008).

Internet search

Finally, a tried and true method is to simply go to your favorite search engine and enter different variations of keywords; we suggest you start with "volunteer abroad," "international volunteer," or "volunteer overseas" (don't forget to try versions using "volunteers" or "volunteering") plus keywords describing the location and/or type of volunteer project you're most interested in.

Once you've got a few potential volunteer-sending organizations and programs in mind, you're ready to start doing your research to see if they are a good fit.