The 5 Types of Volunteer Opportunities

types of volunteer opportunities

You’ve took the time to consider you motivation for volunteering abroad and considered possible alternatives: Now, it’s time to learn more about the different types of volunteer opportunities out there.

Volunteering, like everything in life, takes all forms and capacities. It is difficult to imagine the individual qualities of each organization, and especially the style that suits you best. In general, we have found that there are five different types of volunteer programs and that can have many varieties.

Depending on the reasons for volunteering abroad, the information for each of these categories can help limit the choice of program. Each type of volunteer program has its advantages and disadvantages. So before you start your research, think about making a list for yourself.

With that in mind, let’s get started. This guide, designed to help you find the right volunteer, should give you all the information you are looking for. You will also learn the questions you need to ask to improve your search and find the right volunteer program for you and your goals.

5 Volunteer Opportunites for You!

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1. Short-term volunteer programs

Through a short-term volunteer program, volunteers offer short-term work in the local community and/or focus on cultural training. These programs can be both lucrative and not-for-profit. Short-term/intercultural tasks now make up the vast majority of overseas volunteer programs.

Here’s our brief description of short term volunteer programs :

  • Short-terms (from one week to three months)
  • As a rule, no special training or professional qualification is required from volunteers.
  • The most common type of volunteer opportunity

The great advantage of short-term volunteerism is the opportunity to get to know the country and work with its residents in a short time. However, the main disadvantage is that as a volunteer you can actually bring negative impact if you don’t have a long-term plan, and sometimes the impact of your practice is questionable (so make sure you know how to increase your impact on short-term volunteer activities).

2. Long-term volunteer programs

Most long-term voluntary activities are aimed at strengthening the local community. Such programs often involve some form of knowledge sharing and sometimes involve volunteers with specific educational or professional qualifications. This can often take the form of paid voluntary employment as well as unpaid voluntary projects that are self-organized.

Here’s our brief description of long-term volunteer programs :

  • Usually not for profit.
  • Volunteers must have a special educational or professional qualification or be trained to help them develop the necessary skills.
  • This usually involves transferring the necessary skills and knowledge to individuals and groups over a longer period of time, for example six months or more.

A key benefit of long-term volunteerism is that volunteers often work closely with the local community on long-term issues, allowing them to see their potential impact on important and demanding issues. The disadvantage is that, since it is a long-term project, it can take a long time before the results of the program become visible.

3. Online volunteer programs

Online volunteer programs are sort of the new-age trend. With the introduction of the internet and online workflow, remote voluntary help has never been so easy. Not to mention the marketing power social media and web development holds on consumers (donors).

Those who specialize in online capable-skills suit online volunteering particularly well.

These jobs can be summed up as:

  • Social media marketers
  • SEO specialists
  • Graphic designers
  • Web developers
  • Email strategists

. . . and many more! It has never been easier to greatly help a cause – especially from the comfort of your own home. Now, there is no reason not to volunteer some of your time especially when it requires no traveling and often times less time commitment. Online voluntary work also often has less negative side effects than in-person work since being in-person often means you have to be specially trained.

4. Contract/ Pro bono volunteering

This is a special category that CreativeVolunteer believes isn’t pursued as much by creatives in the workplace. However, creatives aren’t the only contract workers that can put their skills to good use as well.

This is volunteering your specialties on-site – such as photographers and videographers. Though this role may be short or long, it is important that you try not to involve yourself in much of the work besides what you are contracted to do.

We recommend making yourself as invisible as possible and focusing on the task you were assigned. Try to reduce your impact (positive or negative) solely to the purpose you were instructed.

Other contract work could be:

  • nurses / doctors
  • veterinarians
  • cousellors / psychiatrists
  • biologists

. . . and more! These roles are for those who are especially trained and qualified and who can un-involve themselves in a cause while on-site as much as possible and just focus on their own work.

5. Governmental volunteer programs

The last type of volunteer opportunity is governmental programs such as the Peace Corps. These positions usually involve a written contract and a long-term involvement.

The Peace Corps, for example, includes a stipend for your involvement and usually a two-year minimum commitment. A lot of progress can be made in these programs and they are usually highly self-motivating.

Those with a lot of self-starter mentality, organizational skills, and big ideas are encouraged to look into these programs in any country.

Find the right volunteer opportunities for you!

Though it has already been said, finding the perfect opportunity for you is so, so important. If you want to make a positive impact, the first decision you must make is what role will keep your spirits alive and motivated.

If it is just a temporary action, you’re more well-suited for a short-term role. If it is something you’re direly passionate about, maybe a longer role will fit you. You also must take into consideration what kind of person you are and how much guidance you need.

Trust us, there will always be a volunteer opportunity that is perfect for you somewhere in the world.

If you would like to learn more about CreativeVolunteer’s programs, feel free to email us at

If you’re an organization interested in partnering with us, you can ask us anything at

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