9 Resources to Find Paid Volunteer Work Abroad

by Published

Do you get paid for volunteer work?

Don’t let it weigh on your conscience—the words paid and volunteer CAN actually be placed side-by-side and be just as charitable as the unpaid variation. Paid international volunteer work is no myth, and although it usually requires a bit more work in finding, it will most certainly pay off in the end (both literally and figuratively).

Tired of scavenging the internet up through the 50th page of your search engine’s “Paid Volunteer Work” results with nothing but disappointment? There are plenty of deceptive volunteer abroad programs with hidden fees masking over a handful of legit paid volunteer jobs.

To make everyone’s life easier, we’re highlighting some genuine and inspiring avenues to help become an ace paid volunteer abroad, so you can set out to do some good without the financial hardships. Close your 45345 open tabs and read on for 9 resources to find paid volunteer work overseas!

Jeeps driving through Kruger National Park, South Africa

The road to finding paid volunteer work probably isn’t paved, but you’re excited to travel down it anyway.

Paid volunteer work FAQs

What is “paid volunteer work?”

Why do so many volunteer projects require a fee, if you’re doing a service by helping out? Many programs out there do ask for a modest program cost or at least enough to cover your room and board. It’s worth noting that this is not a ploy to cheat willing participants out of some hard earned cash, nor is it a money making machine (if you’re working with a legitimate organization).

There is definitely good reason why you should pay volunteer abroad, including covering unavoidable costs to be able to allocate more resources to the target cause. However, not everyone has the means to afford some good ol’ philanthropy along with an international flight, and this is where the magic of paid international volunteer work comes in.

To answer the question “Do you get paid for volunteer work?”, it’s a matter of how you view compensation. Reimbursement for your services as a paid volunteer abroad can cover a full spectrum of associated costs, such as accommodations, meals, monetary payment, and flight stipends. Whether it’s straight up receiving cash in the hand or a meal every day, paid volunteers can expect to receive some aspect of their personal cost covered without providing payment in return to participate in the volunteer experience. 

[Get matched with paid volunteer jobs abroad for FREE]

Can you actually find paid volunteer jobs?

Yes. It’s very real. Paid community service isn't necessarily the norm, but it is out there if you're willing to work to find it.

What does paid international volunteer work look like?

Being on the receiving side of the volunteer spectrum, rather than the fee giving side, means that application competition is heightened and specialized skills may be a requirement.

Applications for large, competitive programs for paid volunteer work abroad for adults can be due several months to a year in advance, so you better have an insanely organized life plan! Because funds to support volunteers are limited, these organizations have to be very selective on which applicants they choose. This can also be your chance to finally use that college degree or put your medical license to good, global use. Depending on the program, you may need to have these professional credentials to even qualify. But hey, at least you won’t have to pay to volunteer abroad, right?

HOWEVER, not all paid volunteer jobs are credential doom and competitive gloom! It’s also a possibility to do paid volunteering abroad in much less competitive, short-term programs that work directly with project coordinators. Volunteering on a farm, for example, is a great option for a few week stay, compensates with full room and board, and may not require any previous experience.

[Compare paid volunteer positions side-by-side with MyGoAbroad]

volunteer with backpack walking across bridge in forest/jungle

You’re packed up and ready to dedicated your life to service (preferably, paid volunteer service).

Where can you get paid to volunteer?

Similar to unpaid volunteer programs, paid volunteer jobs are more common in regions of the world with emerging economies and a demand on financial and physical aid to boost community development efforts. Traditionally popular tourist destinations like Western Europe, Australia, or New Zealand are more likely to offer short job stints instead of longer term volunteer opportunities.

When it comes to the type of organization that facilitates paid volunteer jobs, you can almost certainly bet your bottom dollar that government- or large NGO-sponsored programs will have the means to offer reimbursement of some kind. These types of organizations have many more financial resources to pull from and often run long established programs, such as the Peace Corps or United Nations Volunteer.. Seeking out volunteer opportunities with similarly prominent foundations will save you a ton of time and guess work. You can stop asking “do you get paid for volunteer work” and start asking the important questions, like “what kind of work will I do?”.

Many smaller businesses offering volunteer programs abroad simply don’t have the same funds to grant participants the same assistance. This is usually where the fees paid by the volunteers themselves make the program possible!

[The Who, What, Where, When & Why of Voluntary Work Abroad]

9 resources for paid volunteer jobs

Without further ado, we’ll cut the chatter and present some favorite paid volunteer work abroad for adults:

1. Peace Corps

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve probably heard of the Peace Corps or even know someone who’s been a volunteer. U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older are eligible to serve in the Peace Corps for a 27 month assignment with no application costs in a variety of fields around the world. Apart from receiving a housing and living stipend, paid volunteers who successfully complete their assignment also get perks such as a financial package for transitioning back home and massive prestige!

2. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)

If you don’t have two years to spare to save the world, WWOOFing may be a better option for a bit more flexibility and the power of choice. WWOOF allows you to choose your own organic farm, stay duration, and volunteer work type through each country’s individual website. Although you won’t get paid to volunteer monetarily, you’ll be compensated with free room and board.

3. International Volunteer HQ Scholarship

The folks over at International Volunteer HQ have an entire database full of volunteer projects around the world to browse through. While there’s a modest fee associated with the programs, the organization’s Volunteer Abroad Scholarship turns any 2-week wildlife or conservation project into paid international volunteer work! Winners receive insurance, a flight voucher, and an all-inclusive cost-free program.

Children in Thailand playing with water

Working with these smiles is so rewarding, no wonder you’re looking to become a lifer!

4. SVP (Sudan Volunteer Programme)

Paid volunteers in the Sudan Volunteer Programme work together to help Sudanese improve their English skills in order to open up better employment opportunities for individuals and communities. In addition to accommodations, participants receive a stipend for their teaching services and support throughout the duration of work. There’s tremendous freedom to choose how you teach, and you’ll still have plenty of free time to connect with the community and practice your own Arabic skills.

5. United Nations Volunteer

Yes, THE United Nations. The prominence of the UN’s volunteer program certainly reflects on its participant requirements, but those that fit the bill will discover some of the world’s top-notch paid volunteer jobs that carry more weight than the average line item on a resume. Over 2,000 assignments become available each year to carry out the United Nations’ mission of fostering peace and promoting development.

6. HelpX

Similar to WWOOF, HelpX shows tons of online listings of farms, ranches, small lodges, and hostels that offer food and stay in exchange for voluntary aid. HelpX is a great resource for paid volunteer work abroad for adults, who have a limited timeframe to work with and would like the flexibility of choosing what work they do and with who. Work directly with your host to sort out anything from dietary restrictions to how you can use your best skills!

7. American Village Camps in France

Help French children learn the joys of American summer camp right in their backyard! As a camp counselor at an American Village Camp, you get paid to volunteer running the camp, interacting with campers in English, and make sure everything goes smoothly according to camp standards and guidelines. Applying is free, and camp counselors receive a stipend, meals, and housing as part of the deal!

8. Volunteer Forever Scholarship

The Volunteer Forever is open to all participants of study, teach, work, and *most importantly* volunteer abroad participants. Turn that costly volunteer work into paid volunteer work with this scholarship that allows you to choose how you wish to use the funds. Offset the cost of airfare, insurance, your personal expenses, or even the program fee itself. Volunteer abroad scholarships are available twice a year!

9. VSO International

For over 60 years, VSO has been fighting poverty in Asia and Africa through paid volunteer jobs. Experienced professionals of various vocations are wanted to help improve living conditions and community development in several capacities. In return for the amazing, life-changing work, volunteers receive a lofty support package that includes a living stipend, insurance, support, meals, and accommodations.

Browse even more organizations for paid volunteer programs

Close up of hands replanting plants, covered in dirt

You’re more than willing to get down in the dirt and really give it some elbow grease.

Interview: One woman explains her paid volunteer work

Niki Kraska has spent the past few years doing international volunteer work in India after finding  the perfect paid volunteer program.

Name: Niki Kraska
Started Volunteering: 2014
Organization: Reaching Hand
Location: near Bangalore, India
Type of Paid Volunteer Work: Coordinator, caregiver, and educator at a home for orphaned and underprivileged children

Q: How did you decide on this organization for paid volunteering abroad?

A:  I first came to volunteer with Reaching Hand in Nov 2014. A friend of mine was coming to volunteer through the placement organization Leave UR Mark and encouraged me to come with her. Leave Ur Mark connected us to Reaching Hand, where I first taught dance at the Home and worked on fundraising and events in the office. I've returned to Reaching Hand every year since, last year completing a six month volunteer placement with them. This is the first year I have come for a full-time, year-long commitment.

Q:  In what form do you get paid for volunteer work?

A: Since I live on campus at the home, my housing and meals are provided. I get a monthly stipend to help pay for local travel expenses and necessities.

Q: Was the compensation for the volunteer work an influencing factor in choosing this organization?

A: The fact that I am able to feel secure in my housing, meals, and basic needs is a huge factor in being able to commit as a full-time volunteer. I am unable to make an income in any other way right now due to the amount of time and energy I am putting into my work here, so I wouldn't be able to survive if I wasn't getting some sort of financial support from the organization.

I wouldn't say it was THE deciding factor; I'm sure if my heart was leading me here I would have found SOME way to make it work. But that's because I already have a relationship with this NGO, children, and staff, and I knew for sure I wanted to come back. If it was my first experience with an organization, I wouldn't be comfortable making that big of a commitment on my own money.

Construction worker building in Uganda

These resources will help you build your life as an international volunteer, so you can help with building projects abroad!

Paid volunteering abroad: Not a pipe dream, but a possible reality—could it be yours?

You can get funded to volunteer abroad, but it’s important to remember that paid volunteer work isn’t strictly a job abroad. You shouldn’t expect to get paid a grandiose sum in cash for your time and labor. Many programs will pay in the form of room and board, or a modest stipend to relieve the burden of financial barriers and allow many more people to lend a hand. The purpose of volunteering is to selflessly work toward a humanitarian or ecological goal, building a sustainable future for people and the environment.

If you’re certain volunteering lies in your cards, then explore every resource to…

Find the perfect organization for paid volunteer programs