Volunteer World claims it can connect you with the perfect volunteering opportunity. Is it really as safe, accessible, and effective as it claims to be, or is this another cash grab?
There are thousands of volunteer opportunities available online - from language teaching homestays to animal refugee camping. The real problem is choosing the right volunteer program for you. From WWOOF to Workpackers, there's a lot out there to pick from.
Which country will you go to? What kind of work do you want to do? What's your budget, and how long do you want to stay? Another important consideration - is this organization genuinely making a difference, or is it just running a tour company disguised as a charity and pocketing all of the cash?
Volunteer World collects thousands of different volunteer opportunities into a single database that you can search online. In this review, we'll look at how safe, effective, and useful Volunteer World is for connecting you with the ideal volunteering trip abroad.
What is Volunteer World?
Volunteer World is a way to compare volunteering opportunities and organizations, almost like AirBnB or Booking.com except for volunteering. Their website makes it easy to filter and search through all of the different volunteer programs out there to find the one that's just right for you.
If you know what kind of volunteering you want to do, you can easily find and compare programs. For instance, are you hoping to care for animals in Africa or teach English in Asia?
Where Volunteer World really shines, however, is when you don't know what kind of volunteering you want to do. It's fun and easy to go down a research rabbit hole and look at all kinds of opportunities in different countries. Volunteer World is a platform that can help you visualize and daydream about your trip.
The one problem with Volunteer World is that it doesn't run any of these volunteer programs, it merely connects volunteers with organizations. If your hosts don't treat you well or the accommodations aren't exactly what you expected, Volunteer World might not be able to provide sufficient support. There's no guarantee of a refund or assistance in solving the problem for you on the ground in a foreign country. We'll talk a little more about that in a bit.
How to Book a Volunteer Trip with Volunteer World
You can check out all of the opportunities for yourself on their website. You don't even need to create an account to browse.
When you find an opportunity that you're interested in, here is how you book it:
- Create a free account and sign in
- Go to the page for the program you want to apply for
- Choose your dates
- Click "apply now" and fill out the form
- Double-check all of your personal and travel information
- Attach all of the required documents
You should hear back from the organization after a couple of days. If you're accepted, you'll receive an invitation. Once you've been invited to volunteer, you need to pay a deposit to hold your spot. Before you leave, you'll be required to pay the rest of the fees to Volunteer World.
Volunteer World acts as the middleman between you and the volunteer organization. You pay the fees to Volunteer World and buy your plane tickets, etc., and they should take care of everything else.
Volunteer World Features
There are some things we really love about Volunteer World. However, this platform also makes some promises that it doesn't always live up to.
Lots of Volunteering Opportunities
This is probably the biggest database of volunteering options you can find online. There are tons of programs to choose from and really helpful information on each one. If you're not sure how you want to volunteer or where you want to go, it's a great place to do research.
Free to Use
You don't need to pay anything upfront to use Volunteer World. If you do end up paying for a volunteer program, the organization you volunteer with pays Volunteer World a fee.
Volunteer World has a four-step process to guarantee the high quality of volunteer organizations. This is done to ensure that every organization they work with is ethical and sustainable. They research the charities and NGOs they work with.
Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent bad experiences. Volunteer World doesn't consider itself responsible if you don't like the accommodations or receive bad service.
If you want to change programs after booking, Volunteer World will allow you to use your deposit for a different program.
If your program is canceled, Volunteer World promises to refund your fees. However, look at the fine print carefully. Unless it's specifically the program's fault that you can't be there, you're out of luck. No refund. When COVID-19 struck, Volunteer World didn't give people their money back.
Support and Mediation
Volunteer World says they cover your back, no matter what happens, but they can't always do that.
The best they can do is work with the organization you are volunteering with as a mediator. They can make phone calls for you, but Volunteer World is not in charge of on-the-ground happenings in the country where you're volunteering.
It looks like Volunteer World really does care about supporting volunteers. They've been successful at getting people's money back in disagreements, after the fact. However, you can't call the manager of your volunteer organization and expect Volunteer World to resolve the problem. Just like you, the best they can do is ask nicely.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Volunteer World
Volunteer World is a great way to find volunteer programs online, with thousands to choose from around the world. It's the perfect way to learn the ropes of volunteering and get exposure to what options are out there.
The biggest drawback of Volunteer World is that it doesn't do much, other than connect you with a volunteer organization.
It promises to support and guide volunteers, as well as handle all of the money. But it's not responsible if you have a bad trip or don't like the organization you volunteer with. If you expect to be able to pick up the phone and complain to Volunteer World, you might be disappointed when there isn't much they can do to help you.
Is Volunteer World Worth It?
Volunteer World is free to browse, and it's a great way to discover organizations or volunteer programs that interest you. If you're nervous about going overseas to volunteer, Volunteer World can make the process feel a little less overwhelming.
You should still do your research. If you don't like the accommodations or the service at your host organization, Volunteer World can't do much to help. At most, they might be able to get your money back.
Our Rating: 3.0/5
- Thousands of volunteer opportunities
- Easy-to-use search filters
- Tons of information and pictures
- Doesn't provide guarantees and can't always resolve issues on the ground
- Customer service rarely gives refunds
- No obvious advantage over dealing with the volunteer organization directly
Volunteer World and Beyond
There's no scam going on here: Volunteer World is a great matchmaker between volunteers and NGOs and charity organizations.
If you're curious about seeing the world and lending a hand as you go along, then Volunteer World is a great place to start planning that journey. No matter where your travels take you, it's always good to have an itinerary and to jot all your ideas down, that's where Pilot comes in.
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