Volunteering Styles in Europe

Depending on how much experience you have with volunteering and with working overseas, there are three different ways that you can arrange your volunteer time in Europe. The primary differences between the three styles lies in the trade off of upfront costs versus how much things are going to be organized for you. Each style can be just as effective as the others for providing a fantastic volunteer experience that really helps.

Organized Volunteer Programs

One option is to work through an organization to find an appropriate place and charity to work with. The way this normally works is that you explain to the volunteer organization or sending agency what kind of work you want to do, pay a fee, and the organization will arrange your volunteer placement. Some large volunteer organizations such as Civil Service International handle these arrangements themselves and others, such as Projects Abroad , are a sending agency that provides this service for other smaller charities and non-profit organizations.

Many people have issues with so called ‘pay volunteering’ where you have to actually pay a fee to the organization that you wish to volunteer with. But with a properly run organization, this money that you pay is simply helping to defray the cost of training you to be an effective volunteer and to pay for your food and lodging during your volunteer period.

The biggest advantage of volunteering through an organized program is that they will take care of all the logistics for food, accommodation, and travel within the country to the volunteer site. They will also be able to help you with visa requirements and other bureaucratic details.

Self Funded Programs

With a self funded program, you still organize your volunteer service through a larger organization. This means that the organization will find a placement for you with an organization in Europe and may provide some logistical help. But instead of paying the fees to the organization, you arrange your own funding through your family, your friends, your church, and do fund raising to collect the money you need for your volunteer time in Europe. Also you may be required to deal with some of the details, such as travel and accommodation for yourself.

Do-it-Yourself Volunteering

The third style of volunteering in Europe is to simply find a local organization that is doing work of interest to you in Europe and offer your services and time. This works for many people, but generally works best for those who already have some contacts with that particular organization or in that country. Countries in Europe will have different levels of restrictions on volunteer activities under tourist visas and it may be difficult to acquire the visa you need without being formally sponsored by a larger organization.

But the advantage of doing things yourself is that this volunteering will have the lowest up front cost. Also, you have a much larger range of places that you can work with, particularly small charities that are not part of a larger umbrella organization

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