Sitting Down with NPR to Talk about Social Enterprises

Last month Grassroots Volunteering’s founder, Shannon O’Donnell, sat down with Rachel Martin on NPR’s weekend travel show to talk about the relationship between travel and international volunteering. The segment looks more closely at the idea of supporting social enterprises as you travel, and explores the many ways travelers can think of innovative ways to support […]


How to Get Started with Independent Volunteering

The dizzying number of options within the volunteering landscape is enough to stall any travel plans, but there is value in slogging through the research and finding a good-match organization for your time and skills. Though paid placement companies and voluntours might be a better fit for some, I believe many travelers can benefit from a transparent […]


Finding Peace in Dharamsala, India

I did not go to India for religious reasons. I did not go to do volunteer work. I did not go expecting to find anything other than historic architecture and scenic views to capture with the camera I have so much trouble putting down when I’m traveling. I arrived for my first visit to McleodGanj, […]


The Art of Giving and Travel

Giving is good for you. It’s a statement many have heard before, but the concrete benefits of giving are one of those more airy concepts difficult to research. Over the past year though, I’ve seen this idea take flight in mainstream media as the giving mindset doesn’t just lift your spirits for a day, but […]


Volunteering in a Culturally Sensitive Village in Malaysia

This week’s volunteer story is from Jason; he shares his experience volunteering in Malaysia and navigating the early days on the ground with a new placement.  He shared his travel journey in more depth on his blog, GoldenbookTraveler.com, which shares the challenges and adventures that life has to offer.  I left the United States in June […]


Fighting Apathy, Fighting Poverty

I recently watched a recording of rock legend Bono giving a rousing TED Talk  filmed at the 2013 TED conference. The topic, which he framed in the context of a brief ten minute presentation, was on the current state of world poverty. I think that, if you’d asked me to comment intelligently on the topic […]


Rethinking Orphanages

When you talk to your average non-traveler about international volunteering, it’s a given that a few things are going to come to mind: saving the animals! Providing compassionate disaster relief in areas torn asunder by tsunamis! Caring for adorable orphans! (Optional: “you know, like Angelina Jolie or whatever.”) The reality of grassroots volunteering is, obviously, […]


Oklahoma Tornado—A Few Ways to Help

The tornadoes that hit Oklahoma yesterday have generated a lot of attention and concern as images flash on the television the destruction and Facebook feeds fill with news, pleas for help, and information. In the spirit of helping when and where possible, which is a tenant of my own life, I have gathered a few of […]


Examining Priorities: Climate Change or World Poverty?

Knowing which issues are worth spending time solving is one of the things I find perhaps most daunting about volunteering and development work. There is no agreed upon to-do task list on which global issues we should solve first; and people mostly outside of development (like me) are easily swayed by emotional reactions to the images perpetuated by […]


Better Birth Outcomes—How Can We Get There?

As a mother of twins who were born prematurely back in 2008, I definitely have a soft spot for any initiative dedicated to promoting healthier neonates. My boys came to me through a highly medicalized birth, and spent nearly a month in the NICU hooked up to some very fancy machines and consuming some very […]