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Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
17 excellent reasons to volunteer

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Is volunteering on your bucket list yet? We’ve got you covered! Here are 17 reasons to volunteer this year.

1) It’s good for your health

Over recent years, an increasing amount of research into the mental-health benefits of volunteer work has emerged,

Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where mental wellness and mental health are being so widely discussed, acts of doing good for others seem more important than ever – and the effects are felt in multiple ways. 

It’s been said that doing good for someone else interrupts tension-producing patterns in the brain and replaces them with a sense of purpose, positive emotion and higher confidence levels, and that people who volunteer feel a greater sense of satisfaction with their lives and consider their health generally better than those who don’t.

2) It improves your employability

Boost your career skills when you volunteer abroad as a teacher with GVI.


Volunteering is an excellent way to boost your career prospects.

Recruiters rank volunteer participation higher than personal presentation when looking at prospective candidates. 

The British Council also released a study centred on how international experience benefits individuals and employers.

3) You’ll learn new skills

Volunteering abroad can lead you to learning new skills, for example diving, you had never thought you would


Why are employers so keen on hiring volunteers? 

Employers look for candidates with a range of hard skills and soft skills, and volunteering gives you plenty of opportunities to add to your personal and professional skill set. 

On a volunteer program, you’re faced with problem-solving tasks on a daily basis, and have to work collaboratively with a team of mixed personalities – all while adjusting to life outside of your comfort zone. 

This experience helps to improve your teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and people skills. 

4) You’ll gain real-world experience

Volunteer work, both practical volunteering in the field and through virtual volunteering programs, gives you insight into real-world contexts and helps you gain hands-on experience. And there are so many opportunities to choose from.

You could get involved in wildlife conservation research, lead sports sessions with kids, or conduct underwater coral reef surveys. 

Not for you? 

How about tracking jaguars, cleaning baby sea turtles, increasing teaching capacity at schools, or earning your Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver qualification in some of the world’s most sought-after dive sites? 

5) You’ll make an impact

Gain real world experience and make an impact as a field guide when you volunteer abroad in Limpopo.


You have the chance to contribute to the kind of community and world you want to live in, either by volunteering abroad or from your own home.

Whichever cause you choose to support, you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself and assist in for-good work across the globe.

This could include making an impact in women’s empowerment, wildlife or marine conservation, or community development.

6) You’ll contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) announced its agenda for sustainable development over the next 15 years. 

There are 17 goals that can be contributed towards through sustainable and responsible volunteering programs.

Instead of relying on your government to fix global issues, get involved in a sustainable volunteer program so you can contribute in your own way.

Volunteering gives you the chance to be a part of addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges and play an active role in the global community.

7) You can contribute to a cause you believe in

You’ll contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals when you volunteer abroad with GVI


Not sure how to start off on your volunteering journey?  

With so many opportunities to get involved, you should volunteer towards a cause you care about most.

Share your love for animals, teaching, or public health by building on impactful programs.

8) You’ll assist people in empowering themselves

Adding to the self-empowerment of people can make your time abroad more meaningful.

You can volunteer on a community development program that works towards the self-empowerment of local people. 

This may include contributing to teaching capacity at schools, or assisting people to learn English to up their employability in the tourism sector. Or, you could run workshops with women to assist in the development of their professional skills and help increase their job prospects. 

9) You’ll travel responsibly

Volunteering abroad allows you to travel with a purpose and reduce your own ecological footprint.


Volunteering abroad with a responsible volunteer organisation allows you to travel with a purpose. It makes it possible for you to reduce your social and ecological footprint by taking part in activities that are ethical and sustainable.

Before deciding on a program, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will it benefit the local community?
  • Does the organisation respect the local culture?
  • What is the reason behind your volunteering trip?
  • What challenge will the end product assist in addressing?

Always keep in mind that you’re there to contribute to impactful initiatives, and you can’t do that if the needs of the community aren’t being met.

10) You’ll make meaningful connections

Make lifelong friendships with other volunteers when you volunteer abroad.


Volunteering lets you meet people from all walks of life. It gives you the chance to form relationships that can have a lasting impact on you. 

You could meet your new best friend, future business partner or have a conversation that sparks a change in your life.

11) You can learn a new language

Did you know learning a new language boosts brain power? Or that it develops your ability to multitask?

By taking the time to learn a country’s languages, you’re opening yourself up to its culture and history, and will be better equipped to engage meaningfully with local communities.

A great way to learn a country’s language while volunteering, is to volunteer with an organisation that works collaboratively with local community members. 

This exposure allows you to learn about cultures different to your own and to expand on your worldview.

12) You’ll become immersed in the community

excellent reasons to volunteer abroad include becoming completely immersed in the local culture as if it were your own


Living in a community away from home can give you a different view, and respect for people and their country. You’ll be immersed in a new culture, which means you’ll learn about life experiences different to your own while interacting with community members on a day-to-day basis.

In many of our locations, including Chiang Mai, volunteers reside in a local homestay – meaning that they live with a local family. 

Volunteers spend their free time cooking with their host family, helping with chores, sharing meals, and learning about one another. It’s a great opportunity to experience a meaningful cultural exchange.

13) You’ll gain perspective

Volunteer abroad and gain fresh perspective when you sit back for some relaxing reflection time


Volunteering abroad can change how you see the world. 

You’ll come into contact with people from different countries and backgrounds, and learn about perspectives different to your own. It can be a profound growing experience.

14) You’ll experience more

Volunteer abroad and experience completely new environments that you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to


Travelling to another country is a major reason many volunteers go abroad. If you travel responsibly, you can gain the most memorable experiences of your life, while making a positive impact. 

You can visit sought-after sites, meet new people, and return home with a host of new experiences and memories.

15) You’ll sample new food

Need reasons to volunteer? The variety of food and cuisine types should be enough of a reason to pack your bags and travel as a volunteer.


Do you consider yourself a foodie?

You’ll live among local people and if your volunteer organisation arranges a homestay, you can learn to cook from your host family. You can also join local cooking classes. 

And some organisations, like GVI, also have in-house chefs to keep the local flavour coming throughout your placement.

16) You’ll be inspired

Take the time to reflect while you volunteer abroad and get inspired to do more than you ever thought capable


Are you stuck in a rut? Or maybe you’re unsure of what to do with your life, or what to study after graduation?

You can use volunteering as a way to get out of old habits and routines, and help you figure out what your next steps will be when you return home.

Taking a break from your day-to-day routines, putting your life into perspective, and learning about other people’s lives might inspire an idea or spark a new interest. 

You might come up with a plan to build on the development of your own community, or discover a new life calling.

17) You’ll have fun

Not only is volunteering abroad fun, but it will lead to lifelong friendships


Volunteering is not something to take lightly and needs to be treated with the utmost respect, but it’s also fun! 

It’s a way to meet new people, embrace cultural traditions and encounter new places.

During your downtime, you can spend a weekend island-hopping in Thailand, climbing Table Mountain in South Africa, or white-river rafting in Costa Rica. The choices are endless.

Combining this with all the other great reasons to volunteer, makes for an unforgettable experience that’ll stay with you for the rest of your life.

Are you ready to get out into the world and contribute to impactful programs?

Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programs and internships.