Questions to ask organisations when volunteering overseas
How was the project identified? Was it from a local perspective, either through a local organisation or via consultation with the local community?
Project background and ethics
- How was the project identified? Was it from a local perspective, either through a local organisation or via consultation with the local community?
- Is there a local partner organisation with responsibility for designing and managing the project?
- Will the project be sustained after the volunteers leave or has it been set up as a one-off opportunity that will only have short term benefits?
- What is the organisation's philosophy towards development? Whilst many organisations have deep-rooted, sustainable links with communities and local people, others operate on a more commercial basis.
- Who will benefit from the project? Will anyone be adversely affected by the project? How will the expectations of the local community be managed?
- Is there a genuine need for volunteers or has the opportunity been created as an adventure holiday?
- How can I be sure that the opportunity is not taking away the chance of paid employment for a local person?
- Has the volunteer role been clearly defined?
- What skills are required?
- Will the volunteers be provided with training?
- Who will I be working with? Will I be on my own, is there a group of volunteers or does the role involve working alongside local people?
- Does the Foreign and Commonwealth Office approve of travel to this country?
- Is the organisation is linked to other reputable companies?
- Does the organisation have reputable travel or government endorsements?
- How and why was the organisation set up and what sort of organisation is it (e.g. Non Government Organisation (NGO), charity or profit making company)?
- How long has the organisation been running and how many people does it send overseas?
- Can I speak with volunteers who have returned from the project to find out about their experiences?
- What am I getting for my money?
- What proportion of the cost goes towards administration and marketing and what goes to the local project that is hosting me?
- What support and training am I provided with, both before and after?
- What happens if something goes wrong - for example if I am very ill or have to get home unexpectedly? Is repatriation included? Does the organisation have contingency plans for a crisis? Is there an evacuation plan?
- Will I need my own travel insurance and does the organisation's insurance cover me for the kind of work that I will be doing? (Think both about health and about belongings).
- Is there in-country support for the volunteers? This includes practical arrangements such as accommodation and meals as well as support to do the job.