What is "Independent Volunteering"?
Independent volunteering is doing volunteer work without necessarily joining a group or organisation.
Who are Independent Volunteers?
Anyone!! Some people are travellers who want to do a bit more than just travel, some fundraise and travel specifically to volunteer and some just fall into it by accident.
What skills do I need?
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, if you have a specific skill like building, agriculture, teaching or gardening, then it's best to put your skills to use in that field. However, there are so many different ways to help that, chances are, you have a lot of the skills already. The most important thing is to have common sense, energy, an open mind, a sense of responsibility and a willingness to give anything a try!
Who pays for the projects/work?
You do! People are encouraged to do their own fundraising, find sponsors or donors or to self fund. Sometimes you will be joining in on a running project so you might not have to contribute, then it's down to choice. If you want to start your own project, then it depends on what you are doing.
Do I have to pay for food and accomodation ?
It depends on the project. Some of them will offer accomodation and food. Most will give you at least lunch at your workplace. If a project listed on this site ask for money, it will be pointed out.
What kind of work is it?
Volunteering can be anything! Teaching, building houses, making playgrounds, planting trees, painting kids faces, micro financing, taking photographs! Check out "projects" for more information.
How do you finance this website?
This website is created and maintained by volunteers, while the projects that are listed have their own independent funding. This website is intended as a completely non-commercial approach to volunteer work, and we do not therefore accept any donation for the administration. Of course you are most welcome to help us out with some work, just contact us.
If you want to donate money, please contact the projects directly.
How is this different to volunteering with a "paid service"?
Volunteering independently means that in exchange for greater flexibility you ultimately take responsibility for yourself. There will be little or no "hand-holding". To be more specific:
- Because of the dangers of being completely "on your own", it is essential to be proactive in networking with other volunteers, locals, legal institutions, etc -- anyone that can help you to understand the local customs, culture, laws, etc. This will help you to anticipate, avoid and deal with problems you will encounter.
- Safety / Security
- You are responsible for researching the area you are going to, to determine if it is safe. Ideally, groups of volunteers can help to create and maintain a safe environment for each other, but a higher degree of self sufficiency is absolutely necessary.
- There may be little or no supervision on a project - this too may have to be handled by the individual themselves. A much higher degree of personal responsibility exists when you are not backed up by an organisation. Supervisory roles can be (and often are) volunteer positions themselves.
- Volunteers are highly encouraged to get proper training. This helps one to avoid conflicts / problems and to ensure the effectiveness of your efforts. Working without proper training can sometimes make the situation worse! If you already have experience in a particular area, you could consider offering training to others.
- Legal Support
- To a large extent, you are on your own. You are subject to local laws when travelling in a foreign country. Always make sure you research legal issues BEFORE getting yourself into trouble. If you do get into trouble, your embassy may be able to help, but this is unlikely and not something you should count on. Your best defence is to research extensively and to network with locals who can help you to avoid / deal with problems and to communicate with authorities should problems arise.