For those who have charity in their hearts and helping hands, the idea of working as a full-time volunteer seems like the perfect career. Not everyone can afford, however, to rely on a volunteer’s stipend, if there is any,  and you may need to wait for a time in your life where you have some sort of financial backing or fund to meet your basic necessities and responsibilities.  


Where to work

If volunteering full-time is on your mind, then you’ve probably already been involved in your fair share of charities and organisations. Establishing this network in the charitable world will help you find somewhere to offer your services full time.

But, just as important as it was when you volunteered part-time, it’s equally (if not more) important to be completely sure and comfortable with the organisation of your choice. Make sure you’re happy with the service you will be providing, where you will be stationed and the team that you will be working with.

Get your foot in the door with Doctors Without Borders who are always looking for volunteers with various medical expertise in the welfare field if that’s where your strengths lie. But wherever you choose to apply, take a look at the website first and monitor their progress as a charity or organisation. This will also give you an idea of how you can make a difference, not only to the community, but to the program as a whole. And use that to get involved full time.



Prepare to give of all your time. Volunteering full-time may often go past the nine-to-five standard working hours and you can trust that your time and effort will be fully spent by the end of the day. If you choose to be hands-on in the organisation or even jump between admin and house building, when your day comes to an end, you will be exhausted.

You won’t have time for luxuries like binge-watching series, going on shopping sprees or having a spa day. But if this is your line of work, luxuries are not a priority or something you can really afford. Not to mention that there are personal rewards for giving of your time and effort that can be seen in the lives you save and change. And isn’t that why you started volunteering in the first place?

You will spend a lot of time away from home and possibly even out of the country. Again it needs to be said that volunteering full-time needs to be done during a time of your life when you can afford it. Not only financially but personally as well.



If you earn a salary as a full-time volunteer, you can consider yourself lucky. If you don’t, the organisation may compensate your time and efforts with other benefits or by covering smaller expenses like travelling.

Either way, you will be living a humble life void of luxury and rich in the reward of changing lives. Choosing to volunteer means you’re already aware of the qualities needed to serve for others and cater to their needs before your own. But it’s not always easy making the change from being self-sufficient to maybe having to ask for help for yourself every once in awhile.



More time spent in the field and dealing with an NGO’s operations means that you will be exposed to more atrocities that are simply the everyday realities for some communities. You will be exposed to new cultures, religions, traditions and social problems around the world.

This can be taxing on your own emotional and mental health and it’s something you’ll need to prepare for. Eventually, you will find a way to work past it and focus on the task at hand but shock is natural and inevitable. You can’t forget to take care of yourself as well, otherwise, you won’t find yourself in a position to help others.


Never enough

There’s no doubt that what you’re already doing is making a difference but one could argue that seeing the rewards of charitable work is addictive. Addictive in that you crave success and making a difference in as many corners of the world as you can reach.

Soon you’ll find that even volunteering full-time isn’t enough and you’ll always look for something more that you can do. The next step will be to start a charity or organisation yourself that maybe even correlates with the NGO you’re working for now. Or, alternatively,  you keep climbing the ladder of influence from where you’re stationed and keep innovating in an organisational system that already works.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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