International Volunteering

International Volunteering

International Volunteering

What is International Volunteering?                                                                                    is here to offer information and support students considering volunteering internationally. Information offered online provides a starting

point and volunteers should visit or email to learn more about international volunteering.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in volunteering abroad, often in "developing" countries. The concept of development is complex and resources below can help you unpack this term.

We are a Comhlámh Code Of Good Pratice Supporter 

We are supporting good practice in international volunteering and are committed to a vision of international volunteers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world.

42 Irish Sending Organisations are implementing Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies, ensuring that international volunteering has a positive impact on the volunteer and host community. We only allow International Volunteering opportunities on our platform who are Code signatories. Read more here.

International volunteering can be:

  • Short term (2 weeks - 3 months)
  • Medium term (3-6 months)
  • Long term (1 - 2 years)

Sending organisations may be:

  • Not for profit : charities, NGOs, governmental organisations or programmes.
  • For profit : travel companies, adventure companies
  • Free Resource has developed the Guide to International Volunteering for students considering volunteering internationally.

Jam packed with personal stories, questions to ask sending organisations and questions to ask yourself - this guide is not only the first stop in exploring international volunteering, but also designed to support you as you travel abroad and return! does not suggest you volunteer with one particular organisation or another and we do not endorse or sanction any international organisations. We offer support and information so you can decide whether you want to volunteer and if so, which organisation with which you would like to volunteer. Reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure information in the International Volunteering publication is accurate. However it is not intended to be legally comprehensive; it is designed to provide guidance in good faith without accepting liability.

Civil Engagement Guide (PDF)

Models of International Volunteering (PDF)

The Role Of Volunteering (PDF)

How do I know if volunteering abroad is right for me?

If you are open to experiencing new things, learning from other cultures, and embracing customs, then such an experience will benefit you as an individual.

Only you can know for sure if such an experience is appropriate for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is my motivation for wanting to volunteer abroad?
  • What do hope to learn?
  • How do I expect to contribute/give to the community I will be volunteering with?

Comhlámh's Volunteer Charter can help to guide you through the decision making process.

How does it work?

You as the Volunteer contact a Sending Organisation that has links around the world with Host volunteering projects. In order to ensure positive volunteering experiences of international volunteers and host communities, volunteers are encouraged to be well informed and prepared in advance of going overseas.

The Sending Organisation: These are agencies, organisations or commercial companies that arrange volunteer placements in developing countries. Sending Organisations have offices outside the destination country and recruit volunteers through these. Examples include, VSI, VSA, EVS, Habitat for Humanity, Suas, etc. You apply to the sending organisation to volunteer and they support you with training. There are a list of questions you should ask Sending Organisations below and you can check if an organisation has signed the "Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Organisations" which sets out the responsibilities of organisations. The code requires agencies to ensure that volunteers are fully informed about their assignment, cultural, health and safety issues and aware of their responsibilities. Anyone interested in volunteering overseas is encouraged to consult the list of NGOs signed up to the code and the Code of Good Practice on the Comhlámh website.

The Volunteer: That is you! Volunteers need to adopt a learning approach to their volunteering. Volunteers are encouraged to read the "Comhlamh Volunteer Charter" which sets out seven principles that aim to encourage responsible, responsive international volunteering. Each principle contains a list of questions to help you make sure that you have thought about the issues raised, and that you know why they are important.

The Host Project: Host projects are the organisations or community groups in the destination country that receive volunteers. Host communities are the people with whom volunteers work and live while undertaking their overseas placements.

Things to Consider

Find out what are the basics to take into consideration when deciding to volunteer internationally.

Great Links

Check out some links about international volunteering! 

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