Here is a list of grassroots NGOs that do not charge fees to volunteer.
Volunteer in Thailand – a list of various Thai organizations that will house & in some cases feed volunteers in short-term (min one month) to long term placements.
http://burmavolunteers.org/ – Places volunteers with Burmese refugees along the Thailand-Burma border and within Thailand. Volunteers primarily teach English, occasionally other subjects, to women’s centers, children, and other refugees.
Devenir bénévole: Les Restos du Coeur (Paris) – One of the oldest “food kitchens” in Paris, Les Restos du Coeur provides quality food to Parisians in need from a mobile truck and in various locations. Having personally worked here, I can attest to the fact that the atmosphere is warm and friendly, a lovely respite from everyday Parisian life. You can have great conversations with people from all walks of life, and it makes for some interesting character-watching. I’d say that you should have reasonable French.
New Era Galapagos Foundation – a social foundation on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Volunteers primarily teach English, but they may also work in other projects. The local population of the Galapagos needs many services; many went there hoping to find a job in tourism, but could not, and services on the island are expensive.
|Volunteer Abroad for Free – much like what the title says.|
Free and Low Cost Volunteer in South America – THE website to go to if you are looking for free or low-cost volunteer opportunities in South America. Some NGOs are rated, with descriptions. A wonderfully comprehensive resource that is not otherwise available on the world wide web.
AROUND THE WORLD
Volunteer to Travel (Wisebread) – an interesting article, with some great volunteer ideas.
Independent Volunteer Org – a relatively useful database. Look up some NGOs in the region that interests you!
|Nerdy Nomad – a wonderful woman who truly puts the idea of Indie Volunteer into action! Her full time “job” is independently traveling & working with great NGOs. She wrote a great book called The Underground Guide to Volunteering Overseas which is an excellent resource for you all.|
|WWOOF Directory – World Wide Organic Farming – volunteer your time at an organic farm and you will receive accommodation and oftentimes delicious meals from the organic food
INDIEVOLUNTEER’S FAVORITE NONPROFITS
These are nonprofits that I have personally worked with or met. They’re sustainably run, perform necessary and important work, and administrative transparency. Please support these guys with donations, messages, your time and effort as a volunteer, anything ! They’re out there fighting the good fight.
charity:water (New York, NY): charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. While it seems like that is what many organizations try to do, they give 100% of public donations to their water projects, and release annual reports & fiscal statements. They have an awesome volunteer night every Wednesday in their Soho office, and are just great people all around.
WriteGirl (Los Angeles, USA): WriteGirl pairs at-risk teenage girls with adult female professional writers. Through one-on-one mentoring and monthly creative writing workshops, girls are given techniques, insights and hot topics for great writing in all genres from professional women writers. Workshops and mentoring sessions explore poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, songwriting, journalism, screenwriting, playwriting, persuasive writing, journal writing, editing and more. 100% of the girls in the intensive mentoring program graduate from high school and go to college on full or partial scholarship. That is very impressive, considering that 50% of kids in Los Angeles graduate from public high schools. They received California’s Best Non-Profit Award for 2011. I interned with WriteGirl during the Fall 2011 semester and fell in love with the staff’s volunteerism and can-do spirit. They depend heavily on their volunteers & interns, so if you can, dedicate some time to them!
826 (NY, LA, DC, AA, AT, etc): nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our free programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice. Each 826 features a quirky shop that is run by volunteers and whose sales support the center’s services.
Housing Works (New York, New York): Housing Works fights for funding and legislation to ensure that all people living with HIV/AIDS have access to quality housing, healthcare, HIV prevention information and other life-sustaining services, as well as legal protections from stigma and discrimination.
We pride ourselves on the comprehensive array of services that we have provided to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS since 1990. We believe that providing stable housing is healthcare and the first step toward living a long and healthy life. Supportive services include but are not limited to housing, healthcare, meals and nutritional counseling, mental health and substance use treatment, job training, and legal assistance.
Housing Works pioneered the concept of social enterprise–businesses whose profits fund the mission of a parent not-for-profit organization. This self-sustaining model provides employment opportunities to the community in addition to fundraising. Our acclaimed Housing Works Thrift Shops, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe and The Works Catering account for approximately 25% of our $43 million annual operating budget.
While Housing Works fights in particular for the inclusion and dignity of marginalized people, including active drug users, homeless people and sexual minorities, we advocate on behalf of all people living with AIDS and HIV, whatever their circumstances and wherever they live.
Colobrí (Cuzco, Perú): The National Police of Perú began Colobrí in order to stop the problems that they saw on the street from the root. The goal of Colibri is to provide the street children in Cusco with a bright and promising future, by teaching them the skills and giving them the care and companionship to become self-sufficient and independent. Colobrí provides educational services, food, basic medical care, recreational activities, and an safe space for children to feel nurtured and grow healthily.
La Casa de Mayten (Chincha, Perú): After the 2007 earthquake in Peru, local Peruvian Mayten still saw that there was much to do in her childhood town of Chincha. She converted her family vacation home into a school/clinic/house for volunteers. You can volunteer there as a teacher, nurse, construction worker, or just a kind, caring person and she will accomodate you – at least intermediate Spanish ability useful.
Les Restos du Coeur (Paris, France): An organization in France that distributes meals to the needy. Notable for its exceptionally efficient organization and the incredibly warm dining atmosphere that it creates. I might add that the food that they serve is of higher quality and tastes better than the food kitchen food that I have served and tasted in the US (;
New Light India (New Delhi, India): New Light is a non-profit community development project and charitable trust based in Kalighat, Kolkata, one of the oldest red light districts of the city.
All Girls Allowed (everywhere, mostly China): The mission of All Girls Allowed is to restore life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers, and to reveal the injustice of China’s One-Child Policy. They raise awareness about gendercide and gender discrimination in China, rescue abandoned and trafficked children and provide legal defense to mothers who were forced to have abortions or sterilizations. It’s incredibly courageous and often dangerous work. Chai Ling, one of the Tiananmen Square protest founders, started this organization and is a wonderful woman. You can volunteer or intern with AGA; I’m on their Student Board.
Adharshila Trust (New Delhi, India): The NGO works for the upliftment of the underprivileged section of society by striving to empower and enable them, especially women, through our vocational training programs, social justice initiatives, advocating human rights, counseling and awareness workshops. Adharshila’s strength lies in building partnerships with fellow NGO’s. Corporates, Government Organisations, Civil Society and National Inter-national Organisations.
AFESIP Cambodia – Acting for Women in Distressing Situations (various locations, Cambodia) – “AFESIP CAMBODIA is a non-governmental, non-partisan, and non-religious organization established at the grass-root level in Cambodia in 1996. The dire situations of thousands of victims forced into sex slavery are the reason why AFESIP exists today. We are devoted to “humanly correct development” in order to fight against the trafficking of women and children for sex slavery. We will consider inquiries from highly skilled volunteers such as psychologists, law enforcement, and other professionals that can assist our organization’s staff in better serving our beneficiaries. We regret that we do not have the capacity to manage internships or university placements.”
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE/CREATE YOUR OWN ORG!
Echoing Green’s “Work on Purpose” Program gives an excellent listing of Resources and Opportunities for anyone intent on living a life of service.
Idealist: The most comprehensive listing of volunteer opportunities on the internet, PLUS employment opportunities in prominent and innovative public service settings.
International Volunteer Programs Association: An association of NGOs involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges, with placement organizations who fit their ethical bill, and phenomenally helpful tips on volunteering abroad.
GOOD Maker (GOOD + Jumo): A platform that gives individuals and organizations the ability to tap into the public’s creativity and energy to address an issue that’s important to them. Create a challenge for your community, solicit ideas, reward winners, and then implement!