Search the internet using “volunteer for a cause” to get a list of several places. Also try your area of interest, such as “volunteer for medical missions” or “volunteer for food security.”
Some places may charge you a fee to volunteer, so make sure you understand exactly what that fee covers before signing up. Other volunteer opportunities provide room and board. All you have to do is get there–and pay for your incidentals.
America’s Charities lists groups by causes and location. Consider reaching out to a listed organization to offer your time and talents.
Amnesty International gets real in the nitty-gritty of global crises and human indignities. Volunteer opportunities for Amnesty will no doubt change your life.
Catholic Relief Services supports work around the world, serving communities in need.
Doctors Without Borders supports medical care and disaster relief around the globe. You don’t have to be a doctor to volunteer.
International Volunteer Headquarters allows you to search by country and cause. Their website states that they are the world’s leading volunteer travel company, working in more than 50 destinations and placing thousands of volunteers every year.
Peace Corps involves a long-term commitment and is well worth a look if you’re looking for a major life change. My PC experience in Senegal was cut short in part by a “civil conflict,” although I don’t regret the 4 months I served there.
Quaker Voluntary Service supports and empowers young adults to explore their spirituality and vocation while living in an intentional Quaker community. Their mission is to encourage and foster service and social justice.
Teach For America is a U.S.-based Peace Corps-style opportunity for people who want to put their teaching skills to good use in underprivileged schools.
Volunteer Overseas Services is like the European version of the Peace Corps, only without a two-year commitment. A good friend of mine served in Nigerian through VSO.
Volunteer Abroad allows you to search by country and cause.
Although I’ve never volunteered through Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF International, WWOOF USA, WWOOF; WOOF Australia, WOOF New Zealand), I know many people who have and loved it. I have lived at a place that took on “wwoofers.” They were among some of the most dedicated volunteers. All places are privately owned farms and offer room and board in exchange for your outdoor work. But every place is different, from the accommodations to the food to the work expectations. Woof for short or long stays, or string a bunch of wwoofs together for an extended experience.