Invention Series Part 2: Solar

For the Western world, “going solar” generally means costly investments, a degree in tax law, and being labeled a treehugger by neighbors. Until this past month, my knowledge of solar energy began and ended with the large panels placed on rooftops. In the past, I’ve worked on clean energy campaigns and I did some work in the […]


Invention Series Part 1: Water Filters

I recently started working with a social enterprise in India; it’s mission is to improve the lives of the urban poor. They sell items like solar lights on an affordable payment plan to people living in slum communities to both meet basic needs and to improve quality of life. The company is pretty great; they employ local […]


Thoughtful is the New Smart: How to Maximize Your Volunteer Impact

I would like to consider myself a thoughtful person. I like to weigh options, analyze everything and know all possible outcomes before making a choice. It sometimes drives my friends a little crazy … but it’s just who I am. This carries through in my travel as well. I guess you could say I like […]


Should You Even Volunteer? How to Know When It’s Not a Good Idea

There’s a lot of information out there about how to volunteer, where to volunteer, and why we should volunteer. Something that doesn’t get talked about enough is when not to volunteer. I’ve volunteered for a long time and I’ve seen the power volunteers have to effect change. I truly believe in the Dr. Seuss quote that […]


Cambodia’s Elephant Valley Project: Roam With the Ellies

Animals and tourism don’t often play well together—at least not responsibly. Even Ringling Bros. Circus is retiring its elephants after nearly 150 years due to public concerns about treatment. People are becoming more aware, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the reputable organizations from those that put money ahead of animal well-being. This is especially […]


Meet Our Newest Team Member, Veena

GV is growing and I am so pleased to announce the addition of a new volunteer on the management side of Grassroots Volunteering. Veena reached out a few months ago and was quick to note that she’s worked in public service, with international NGOs, she’s studied the issues at the university level, and she travels […]


Good for Community: Service Offered Abroad Can Be Just As Powerful at Home

“Community service” is an interesting term. Technically, it is simply another phrase synonymous with volunteering. The word’s connotation, however, implies a style of volunteering with a much more tangible and direct impact, often on underserved populations and projects within a community. Let us therefore look at community-driven volunteering and how it plays out in your […]


A Creative, DIY Approach to Volunteering in Nepal

The idea of volunteering in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal came to me as a surprise. I had spent the better part of two years traveling the world, after becoming disenchanted with a career as an accountant working long hours. I had just completed my postgraduate qualification, when I gave notice of my resignation. After six […]


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 […]