volunteer south Africa

Volunteer in South Africa

If you are exploring options to volunteer in South Africa, you might well be pleasantly surprised to find how many ways there are to make a real difference as a volunteer while enjoying an experience of a lifetime in South Africa.

Join the Volunteer movement!

According to Wikipedia, volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial or social gain, “to benefit another person, group or organisation”.

If it has been on your mind and heart to volunteer your time, effort and skill for a worthy cause, you will be pleased to know you are not alone. All over the world, caring people stand up each year to volunteer their time, effort and skills for the benefit of others and our world.

In fact, according to a study by WYSE Travel Confederation, the world’s leading trade association for the global work and volunteer abroad industry, there are more people like you than you might have known! The study says: “Economists have estimated that at least 971 million people volunteer each year across the globe, whether through an organisation or other intermediary or directly with persons outside of one’s household (Salamon et al).

The sheer number of volunteers has led to a comparative reference – if all the world’s volunteers were to form a single country, it would form the largest adult population in the world, behind only China and would have seventh largest economy in the world, behind the US, Japan, Germany, China, the UK and France.”

By giving of your time, skills and effort to volunteer, you are joining this ‘nation’ of people with the same values and convictions as you have – adding your unique contribution to this formidable force of ordinary people doing good and changing the world for the better.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

The Impact of Being a Volunteer

While some people may question the impact that you – as a single volunteer – could make in the world, the statistics show that volunteers do in fact make a massive impact.

WYSE Travel Confederation research notes that volunteer travel can be viewed as high impact and that international volunteers contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, bring tourism spend directly into local economies that might not otherwise benefit from mainstream tourism spending, and foster a mutually-beneficial exchange of cultural knowledge.

For communities and the projects hosting volunteers, visiting volunteers contribute a considerable number of work days to projects and spend to local economies. Volunteer travellers are among those travellers staying the longest and spending the most, with the average stay of 69 days and an average trip spend of EUR 3,400. In addition, volunteers multiply their contribution by creating awareness of conservation efforts through sharing their African experiences within their spheres of influence in their home countries.

Our Volunteer Southern Africa volunteers are shining examples of the difference each of us can make by actively volunteering. We’ve enjoyed hosting more than 9,500 Volunteers from 25 different countries over the last decade, who have made a positive difference in many local communities and have contributed to the rehabilitation of more than 1,100 animals – many of which are endangered!

Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds. – William J. Clinton

The Benefits of Being a Volunteer

Of course, being a volunteer not only benefits others and our planet, it also enriches your life!

For starters, studies have found that volunteering improves health by strengthening the body, improving mood, and lessening stress.

In addition, volunteering can boost your career. According to a study performed by Career Builder, 60% of hiring managers see volunteering as a valuable asset when making recruitment decisions. Furthermore, surveys have shown that 92% of human resource executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve an employee’s leadership skills and that those who volunteer regularly have a 27% better chance of gaining employment.

According to WYSE, volunteer travellers consider making a positive impact on the local community the most important aspect of undertaking volunteer travel. While the chance to develop language skills and other useful professional knowledge are also highly valued by volunteer travellers, the opportunity to meet local people featured as the second most important aspect of a volunteer trip.

All our Volunteer Southern Africa volunteers – and have been more than 9,500 – agree that their volunteer experience in South Africa was amazing and life-changing. In fact, many of our volunteers – more than 850 already – are returning volunteers who visit again and again.

Watch videos from our volunteers’ describing their amazing experiences…

Why South Africa?

Of course, you could volunteer in your home country and even in your own city, but many volunteers choose to reach out beyond their comfort zones and experience new worlds and cultures while volunteering.

According to WYSE research, South Africa, Ecuador and Mexico are the top three destinations in the world for volunteer travellers.

Volunteer Southern Africa’s volunteers choose to volunteer while visiting South and southern Africa – and it’s a choice that is easy to understand.

Located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa, it is a place of great beauty and diversity in everything from its vibrant local cultures and breath-taking landscapes to spectacular wildlife and unique vegetation – and its first-world infrastructure. You can honestly see it all in South Africa, which is why it is often described as ‘the world in one country’.

South Africa is also a safe destination geared towards international travellers, particularly following the upgrades completed to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. A constant flow of international airlines arrive at various world-class international airports around the country, while a network of national highways and roads criss-cross the interior and extend along the coastlines. In addition, Wi-Fi is widely accessible, the mobile phone network is excellent, ATMs are readily available thanks to a world-class banking system, and a full-service gas or petrol station, convenience stores and shopping malls can be found even in smallest towns.

All over South Africa you will encounter our friendly people. Despite our 11 official languages, English is widely spoken throughout the country. South Africans love to meet new people, especially visitors, and most will passionately recommend a favourite place to visit or amazing things to do.

Our melting pot of unique cultures also ensure a culinary experience of a lifetime, served with world-famous South African hospitality. There are internationally known restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King, as well as countless local hubs for craft beer, great coffee and international cuisine, exciting local markets and inspiringly unique local restaurants.

South Africa also offers an amazing historical experience – from the Cradle of Humankind, where the 2.3-million-year-old fossil nicknamed Mrs Ples was found, and the San Bushmen lifestyle that dates back thousands of years, to the Constantia Winelands that are more than 300 years old and our more modern historical sites, commemorating pivotal moments such as Anglo-Boer War battlefields and the life of our beloved Tata, former president Nelson Mandela.

But above all, travellers marvel at the sheer beauty and diversity of South Africa’s landscapes – from our warm Indian Ocean coastline on the East to the crisp Atlantic coastline on the West, you will find long stretches of pristine golden beaches, as well as majestic mountains – including Table Mountain which is officially one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, great rivers, magnificently fertile valleys, vast African plains, hauntingly beautiful deserts and sub-tropical rainforests – the perfect all-round playground!

Across the country are superb national parks, game parks and private wildlife reserves rich with wildlife of all kinds, including our most famous Big 5 destination, the Kruger National Park and the Addo Elephant National Park near the coast in the Eastern Cape.

In addition, with plenty of sunshine – on average over 300 days of sunshine a year – vast blue skies and a temperate climate, visitors to South Africa are also pleasantly surprised by the great weather!

Volunteer in South Africa

WYSE’s research showed that the main types of projects volunteer travellers participate in are related to wildlife conservation, education, and childcare and youth development.

Wildlife conservation volunteering is our speciality at Volunteer Southern Africa and we have carefully selected a number of wildlife conservation projects for our volunteer travellers that ensure you will be absolutely safe while visiting, while enjoying an amazing experience contributing to a wildlife conservation project that ignites your passion.

Whether you would prefer to work with the Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo; big cats including cheetah; rhinos; elephants; or sharks, you can choose from a selection of ethical and professional wildlife conservation programmes across southern Africa which we have partnered with. These projects adhere to the highest ethical standards and make a tangible contribution to the protection and rehabilitation of the African wildlife.

Choosing a Volunteer Southern Africa experience not only ensures that your volunteering efforts make a real impact, but also ensures your safety and comfort as you enjoy a first-class South African conservation experience!

Earl Smith