Careers Service

International volunteering

How to find voluntary opportunities overseas.

Many people are interested in spending some time volunteering in another country, either during their vacations or after graduating. On this page we have provided resources for your research and planning.

Volunteering overseas has all the benefits of volunteering in the UK as well as providing the opportunity to experience a new country. By working and/or living with local people you will learn a lot about the culture of a country and, potentially, a new language.

Sources of vacancies

There are many international volunteering opportunities. To begin to make sense of them you need to think about where you want to go and what you want to do. The following resources can help you search.

MyCareerHub - volunteering opportunities are advertised here.

MyCareerHub

Edinburgh Global Partnerships - a student run society who organise community led, sustainable development projects overseas.

Edinburgh Global Partnerships

AISEC - a global youth-led organisation, with a University of Edinburgh branch, that facilitates thousands of international volunteering opportunities, as well as paid and unpaid placements and internships.

AISEC Edinburgh

VSO - the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. VSO works very closely with the UK Department for International Development (DfID) through the Partnership Programme Arrangement (PPA).

VSO

Working Abroad - recruits volunteers and interns for humanitarian, healthcare, environmental, wildlife conservation and teaching projects. The site includes a database of over 2000 other organisations that offer voluntary opportunities.

Working Abroad

Worldwide Volunteering - a searchable database with details of hundreds of organisations offering thousands of placements throughout the world.

Worldwide Volunteering

Idealist - provides a searchable database of community and not-for-profit organisations in over 165 countries, as well as volunteering opportunities.

Idealist

International Voluntary Service (IVS) - the UK's longest running international volunteering service, with partners in over 80 countries, providing low cost volunteering opportunities. 

IVS

Researching the organisation

Before signing up for anything it is essential that you have fully researched the organisations and what you will actually be doing once you are overseas. You can find some suggested basic questions to ask before accepting an overseas placement in the below resources.

Questions to ask when researching  international  opportunities- a resource produced by the Careers Service providing examples of the types of questions you should ask placement providers when researching their programmes.

Responsible Volunteering - website giving impartial advice on selecting an ethical volunteer placement, including a blog with suggested questions to ask volunteer abroad organisations.

Responsible Volunteering

You can also find out about other students' experiences volunteering abroad by looking at the volunteering abroad feedback forms on MyCareerHub.

Funding and fundraising

You will find that most overseas placements will require you to pay something towards taking part. This is usually to cover things like accommodation, food, travel within the country and insurance. Some placements can be expensive so it makes sense to 'shop around' and find exactly where your money would be going. How much you pay is also usually dependant on how long you intend to be volunteering for.

The amount that you require for your placement will probably mean that you will have to do some fundraising. Voluntary organisations should be able to help you with fundraising by providing ideas and suggesting possible sources of funds. How you find the funds to be able to do your placement is very much part of the whole experience and you will find that you will gain a wide range of valuable skills from this exercise alone.

Go Abroad Fair

We have an annual 'Go Abroad Fair' in Semester One where you can find out about opportunities. See MyCareerHub for further details.

Feedback

If you complete an international volunteering placement, help other students by filling in a volunteering abroad feedback form on your return, available at the Careers Service. It is also available to complete on MyCareerHub.