Figure Out What's Next

How To Plan for a Fulfilling Retirement: Resources for Volunteering At Home and Abroad

jeremy koch non-profit purposeful living retirement Sep 15, 2010
woman volunteering

by Jeremy Koch

photo by International Fund

You've worked your whole adult life and have finally saved enough to retire comfortably. The children are grown up and have (hopefully) moved out of the house, and you're beginning to think about what the next stage of your life will bring. Rest assured that you're definitely not alone--as the baby boomer generation approaches retiring age, the idea of a future without the responsibilities and demands of work and child rearing is appealing to some, but the sometimes daunting prospect of so much free time has inspired many retirees to consider volunteering opportunities in hopes of making the post-professional stage of their lives as active and fulfilling as their professional years.

The following list provides profiles of websites that offer valuable resources and information about volunteering opportunities after retirement, whether you want to teach English in a Nicaraguan village school or help refugees transition to life in the United States. If you have the time and the passion, these organizations will help you find the job of your dreams.

Volunteer Projects Abroad has resources for prospective volunteers of all ages, but their Older Volunteers section is highly informative, with links to volunteer projects in teaching, care, medicine, conservation, language, and many other areas. Volunteer Projects Abroad offers programs in countries around the globe, and has programs for volunteering as a family if you don't want to go it alone.

Volunteer match has listings of volunteer opportunities for over 13,000 non-profit organizations, with a special section for "disaster volunteering" that has frequently updated listings. You can sign up for a free newsletter with information for volunteers looking for the right job match, or enter in keywords and times if you already know what you want. There's even a "Boomer Volunteer Engagement" guidebook available for download.

Boomers Abroad is a volunteer database that lets you search by country or keyword to find the ideal volunteer position to match your skills and goals. The site also hosts an online community that can answer your questions about living abroad on topics such as foreign health care, travel concerns, and immediately available jobs.

Senior Corps is one of the largest seniors programs in the country, providing a wealth of resources and information about volunteer opportunities. Their RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) specifically provides volunteering opportunities within the local community. Senior Corps primarily hires volunteers over the age of 55, enlisting them in programs such as the Foster Grandparent Program, which assists children in youth facilities.

Network for Living Abroad offers a list of resources for expats living and working abroad. You can join a global volunteer network or search a database for opportunities in different fields and locations. NFLA also has a message board with discussions regarding living situations abroad and other important topics for volunteer expats.

Cross-Cultural Solutions has been connecting volunteers and non-profit organizations for 15 years. They offer programs in twelve countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. CCS programs are short-term, varying in length from 2 to 12 weeks, so if you don't find the perfect match the first time you'll have another opportunity in no time.

uVolunteer offers short-term volunteering programs in all major continents, in areas ranging from teaching English to women's empowerment to community development. Programs usually cost between $500 and $1500 and include room and board for several weeks, with opportunities for weekend trips.

Idealist is one of the largest sites for volunteer and non-profit jobs and internships. Their Volunteer Opportunities database has over 17,000 positions in cities all over the world. You can search by skills/languages needed and beginning/end dates to help narrow your search.


Karl Wallullis is a guest blogger. In his spare time, he enjoys writing career college articles for Guide to Career Education.


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