Funding for Volunteering Abroad
Don’t let a little thing like money slow you down. PFFT. Easy for you to say, wealthy anonymous benefactor! Most students and volunteers will cite finances as their biggest barrier to travel and international programs. When you think about purchasing flights, paying program fees, getting travel insurance, sorting out any potential visa costs, it all starts to add up— and you’re not even there yet!
Your financial concerns are totally valid. Volunteering abroad isn’t free and, unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees. But, before you start Google searching high-risk, high-reward schemes and black market costs for your non-essential organs, take a look at these volunteer abroad grants and scholarships to help make your dreams of being Mother Teresa come true. It might not be easy, but nothing is impossible. So grab yourself a strong cup of coffee and get ready to write a lot of application essays for the following volunteer abroad scholarships!
1. GVI Trust Scholar
GVI’s International Volunteer Abroad Scholarship Program awards up to £2,000 (about $2,500 depending on the exchange rate) annually to eligible applicants looking to pursue an international education experience. This scholarship programs seeks to equip participants with field-based experience to help develop soft-skills by helping them earn a certificate or accreditation that will benefit them in their future careers. All you need is to be between the ages of 15 and 24, be currently enrolled in school, and be able to demonstrate how this experience will be beneficial to you/your studies/future career.
Sounds easy enough, right? So get working on your application!
2. Travel for Good Volunteer Abroad Grants
Travelocity has offered volunteer travelers four $5,000 volunteer abroad grants through their Travel for Good program since 2007. This voluntourism grant allows travelers to serve abroad with one of Travelocity’s trusted partners, like the American Hiking Society, Cross-Cultural Solutions, the Earthwatch Institute, and GlobeAware, for anywhere from a few days up to a few months. The funds cover project and transportation costs. What a deal!
3. Volunteer Forever Travel Scholarship
Volunteer Forever has been awarding volunteer abroad scholarships since 2014. Participants in volunteer abroad, study abroad, intern abroad, teach abroad, and work abroad programs are all invited to apply. Scholarship winners receive the award directly, and can then use their scholarship for any number of costs related to international programs (i.e. their program fee, airfare, travel insurance, housing, food, etc.). This scholarship is open to residents of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the European Union. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!
4. The Samuel Huntington Public Service Award
The Samuel Huntington Public Service Award provides a stipend of $10,000—$15,000 for a graduating college senior to volunteer for one year, whether on their own or with an established organization in the location of their choosing (or placement). The group guarantees one award each year, but often give multiple awards. Applicants must submit an application proposal that encompasses any activity that furthers the public good. This is annual, so check their website and newsletters for the most up-to-date due dates and results.
5. Sarah's Wish Scholarship Fund
Sara’s Wish Foundation volunteer abroad scholarships are awarded to ambitious, young American women who are leaders in their communities, adventurers, and service-minded. The foundation and this scholarship were created in honor of college student Sara Christie Schewe, who was killed in a bus crash in India during her semester abroad. The funding helps students meet the costs associated with traveling, regardless of volunteer program or location; all you have to do is want to serve the world. Applications are available online October 1, and typical awards are between $1,500 and $2,000.
[TIP: Always double check your due dates so you don’t miss the boat on scoring funding for volunteering abroad.]
6. Omprakash Ambassador Travel Grant
The Omprakash Ambassador Travel Grant covers travel and living expenses for entrepreneurial adventurers who volunteer abroad within its international network of grassroots health, education, and environmental organizations. Ambassadors also are enrolled in Omprakash EdGE (Education through Global Engagement), an online curriculum that explores ethics, economics, and power dynamics within cross-cultural volunteering and international development/aid. These volunteer abroad grants are open to all, regardless of age or nationality. Make sure you get your application in on time!
A Last Resort: Fundraise with FundMyTravel
Sometimes volunteer abroad grants and scholarships don’t cover everything. That’s where fundraising comes in. Sure, you can have a bake sale or sell lemonade on the corner in your neighborhood, but these days crowdfunding online is the way to go. That way your grandma’s bad Yelp review won’t foil your plans to volunteer abroad! Create a campaign on FundMyTravel, a platform specifically for meaningful travelers, and start hitting the social media pavement! Now instead of socks for Christmas or a giftcard for your birthday, family and friends can help you with funding for volunteering abroad.
A Quick List of Affordable Volunteer Abroad Programs
Pennywise international volunteers should check out affordable programs from these reputable volunteer organizations:
Keep your kidneys right where they are! And until money actually starts growing on trees, these seven volunteer abroad grants and scholarships, paired with affordable volunteer programs, are your best bet to going abroad and not breaking the bank— so you can be the change you want to see in the world and still keep a little change in your pocket.
Can You Actually Volunteer Abroad for Free?
Find out in this handy video, or read the transcript here.
This article was previously published in Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales: First Time Volunteers Abroad. Download the full ebook to read more expert articles on volunteering abroad for first timers.