Community Building
& Development Jobs

Community development generally refers to resources – communities that don’t have access to resources like health care, food, education, etc. are considered “under-developed” and community development agencies seek to bridge the gap and provide access to fulfill basic needs.

Where the community development volunteer typically comes in is right on the front lines, providing an extra set of hands to help build infrastructure, transport food, teach sustainable farming methods, install computer labs – pretty much anything that can be considered distributing resources is part of community development.

Types of Community & Development Jobs Overseas

In addition to the examples listed above, there are many opportunities for community-building volunteering abroad through housing organizations.

The most famous of the programs is surely Habitat for Humanity, which sponsors low income housing initiatives internationally, with many sites in Latin America.

Volunteers with Habitat or similar construction programs participate in all aspects of home building, and spend long hours pounding nails, sawing wood and pouring cement. Very often, construction volunteers will have the chance to work on a team of diverse volunteers from all over the world working for one common and attainable goal: building a new home for a family in need.

Did you Know? Since 1984, Former President Jimmy Carter has worked alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers for one week per year building homes.

Beyond constructing houses, many community development initiatives are tacking the micro loans and micro enterprise, and volunteers are needed to help train populations in finance and accounting to work together to take advantage of these loans. In addition, men and women’s shelters are always in need of volunteers to help run their day to day operations, transporting supplies and obtaining donations to be distributed to the needy.

Community Development Volunteer Organizations

There are a number of great organizations that specialize in community development volunteer jobs abroad:

  • Habitat for Humanity: As previously mentioned, Habitat for Humanity is one of the leading providers of housing rebuilding both here an abroad. They respond to communities ravaged by natural disasters, rebuild neighborhoods facing tough economic times, and create new homes in underdeveloped lands. International volunteering is facilitated in large part through the Global Village program, which is a year-round series of short-term work trips around the world. Colleges and universities also sponsor volunteer-vacations through Habitat for Humanity.
  • Global Volunteer Network is a volunteer placement organization with a community-building focus, placing volunteers overseas in small villages to rebuild homes, perform outreach to local residents to inform them of available services, and provide technical support to local business people. Since 2000 they have placed more than 14,000 volunteers worldwide.
  • International Volunteer HQ is a New Zealand-based volunteer placement organization with a relatively low fee that sends volunteers overseas to work with local NGOs in 18 countries. They have opportunities for individuals as well as groups, and trips can last up to 6 months.
  • Global Service Corps places its community development volunteers in Tanzania, where they work with relief organizations to promote education about sustainable agriculture and farming. Volunteers receive extensive training, and must commit for a minimum of 13 weeks.

Disaster relief volunteering overseas is another way to build and re-build communities. Read more about opportunities for disaster relief volunteers in the next section.

Quick Summary:

  • Community development volunteers overseas help to bring needed resources to local communities.
  • Community building includes building houses, distributing food and water, and providing technology assistance.
  • Most community development volunteer organizations abroad work closely with local businesses and agencies to make sure that needs are being met.
  • Volunteers who work in community development jobs overseas will have the chance to see the inner workings of nonprofit organizations large and small.


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