You may not know it to look at me but I’m a pretty disorganized person. I manage to keep track of bills and work but when it comes to the less immediately critical things like where my clothes are, what I’m making for dinner, getting cat food, or remembering birthdays, I’m hopeless. I do my best—I keep lists, have about eighteen date books, and try desperately to integrate electronic calendars into my routine—but at the end of the day I always find myself sorting through random papers wondering why life is so darn complicated! This is why I love it so much when other people do the organizing for me. One day, when I’m rich, I’ll hire a devilishly organized personal assistant to ferry me from place to place, put the ingredients for chicken vindaloo in my hands at dinner time, and color code my closets. Until then, I’ll savor the free organizational services of projects like Go Voluntouring.
Go Voluntouring is a great resource for the aspiring voluntourist. It’s a thoroughly vetted list of opportunities, sorted cleverly by destination, program type, program duration, cost, ideal age, fitness level, and religious affiliation. The organizations Go Voluntouring highlights are the best of the best. They get consistently good reviews from volunteers, are responsibly managed, and incorporate eco-consciousness into their programs. But Go Voluntouring goes beyond linking travelers with destinations. They are also an education portal, helping new volunteers navigate their experiences.
I love the “What to Ask” section of the Go Voluntouring website. It outlines the questions a traveler should ask herself before choosing an opportunity and the questions she should ask the organizations she’s considering before making her decision. There are so many details a volunteer must consider. She must find an opportunity that will embrace her strengths in a part of the world that inspires her. She must find work she can do well and that will help her learn new skills. She must also find an organization in line with her values. Go Voluntouring’s checklist for volunteers provides standard questions to help volunteers narrow down the search. They’re good questions for organizations to ask themselves too. Some of my favorites: “Does the operator provide a breakdown of how any fees will be spent?”; “Have the locals been adequately consulted?”; and “Will the project be sustainable by local people after the voluntourists leave?”