Volunteers Organizations: Find a Meaningful Volunteering Opportunity Part 2


Volunteers Organizations; structured and self-funded volunteer programmes. This niche sites neatly between a fully organized/structure programme and the completely independent, self-sufficient approach; it’s the middle ground!

For help understanding a more structured approach to volunteering, click here to view Volunteer Organizations Part 1 and at the other end of the spectrum Volunteers Organizations Part 3.

volunteer organizationsTARAhaat poster, part of the organization I volunteered with in India

The structured and self-funded approach is ideal if you don’t want the hassle of arranging your own placement nor the hand-holding and mollycoddling of a fully organized programme. In other words, freedom from the organized approach but with help up-front to arrange your volunteer placement. Because there is a high degree of independence, the structured and self funded approach attracts a high proportion of people who have volunteered before, older applicants and those looking for a career break.

On the financial side of things, structured programmes are often much cheaper than their fully organized counterparts. You’ll be responsible for arranging your own travel arrangements and insurance. There will be some fees which cover the cost of organizing your placement, possibly your accommodation and a brief orientation on arrival to kick things off.

It’s really essential that you talk to volunteers who have been there and done it. This is especially true for the structured and self funded approach; talk to returned volunteers who have worked for organizations you’re interested in. If the volunteer organization has representation in your home country you may be asked to attend an interview in person as part of the selection process.

If you’re considering a skilled placement, adequate proof of your experience, qualifications and references maybe necessary. By in large most programmes just require you are over 18 years old and have motivation and enterprise by the bucket load. Most Structured and self-funded volunteer programmes require a reasonable commitment, from about six months to a year. In nature they are probably less organized than other volunteering approaches and have more of a community focus. Once on the ground it will most probably be up to you to determine the extent of your involvement and how you might be best utilised.

Without further ado, here are some examples of Structured and self-funded volunteer programmes:


Himalayan Light Foundation
An organization committed to the installation of sustainable and environmentally friendly energy technologies in communities within the Himalaya and South East Asia.
Click here for details


Development in Action
A UK based organization that places volunteers with grass-roots based NGO’s in India within local communities. Placements run between 2 and 5 months.
For further details, click here


Earthwatch Institute
Keen to be a part of a scientific research expedition? Earthwatch places volunteers on expeditions within many countries. You’ll be part of group working to solve pressing environmental problems.
For further information click here


2Way Development
2Way Development arranges work for volunteers based on their skills and specific needs of local, established development organizations around the world. They provide thorough support and advice to ensure each placement is a success.
For further details, click here



As with any approach to volunteering, be sure it is the right fit for you. When I undertook volunteer work in India in 2009 I chose the structured and self-funded approach because it gave me a degree of flexibility during my placement but also the up-front assurance of finding compatible volunteers organizations to work for. So take your time and make an informed, clear decision about the approach you take and who you work for. It will be worth it.


Find a Volunteering Opportunity Part 1

Find a Volunteering Opportunity Part 3

Return to Volunteer Work Overseas

Return from Volunteers Organizations Part 2 to Adventure Travel Advice