Volunteer in India

Map of India

Narrow Your Search by Popular Cities

Flag of India

Bordered by the towering Himalayan Mountains to the north, an immense river system to the east, the western Thar desert, and nearly 5,000 square miles of tropical southern coast, India is unquestionably a geographic and culturally diverse nation. After declaring independence in 1947 from the United Kingdom, India has since emerged from many difficult financial and political struggles to see itself become a powerful member in the world economy.

Despite this rapid growth a large portion of India's population remains impoverished and in need of basic human necessities. 850 million people (70% of the population) still have limited access to housing and clean water. With an estimated 6 doctors for every 10,000 people, the people of India also continue to face severe public health challenges on a daily basis.

Right now international volunteers are desperately needed to help India's underprivileged population gain access to better education, healthcare, human rights, and infrastructure. Volunteer programs are located in metropolitan areas such as Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as rural villages in states including Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. These programs give volunteers the chance to simultaneously help those in need while immersing themselves in India's rich culture.

  • Capital: New Delhi
  • Write Hello in Hindi: nmste
  • Population: 1.17 billion
  • Popular Destinations: Mumbai, Goa, Agra, Jaipur, Darjeeling, Old Delhi, Leh
  • 25.8 million tourists visit every year (Wikipedia)
  • Poverty Level: 25% (CIA World Factbook)
  • Landmass: 3,287,263 sq km (CIA World Factbook)
  • Did you know: More films are made in Bollywood than in Hollywood.

Whatever area of volunteering you'd like to be a part of, chances are that India will offer it. Depending on what you choose, you could be working in urbanized areas such as Mumbai or Bangalore, or the rural peace of somewhere like Tamil Nadu or Rajasthan. Here's a snapshot of what you could be doing:

Volunteer with Childen in India
Volunteer with Childen in India

Health: Few countries have such a polarized healthcare system as India. The rich enjoy world-class treatment while poorer inhabitants often have no access to health basics. India is home to the highest amount of AIDS and HIV cases in the world too. As a volunteer you can work in an HIV clinic and help spread awareness. Medical and dental students can also gain first-hand experience in clinics and hospitals.

Gender Equality: Many women in India fall victim to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Fortunately, there are a number of NGOs that have now been established to counteract such atrocities, and they're always on the lookout for volunteers.

Youth Development and Education: There are about 100 million street children in India and to counteract this, a large number of orphanages and shelter homes have been set up across the country. You could also help promote education by working in a primary or secondary school, teaching basic English.

Community Development: Only 75.3% of men and 53.7% of women in India are literate. Working as part of a community development program, you can help people discover their potential and make a better go of their lives.

Environmental Conservation: India's rapidly-increasing population means there has been much damage to natural surroundings by way of plastics, chemical pesticides and general high productivity. There are a number of projects in India where you can help promote sustainable farming and environmental conservation.

  • Volunteer Support: Any good organization will look after its volunteers, and always be on hand to answer questions and provide help whenever required. Your embassies will be based in New Delhi, while dozens of consulates are located in towns and cities across India. About.com: India Travel also has tons of relevant resources for anyone traveling to India. You might also consider joining up to an expat forum such as @llo' Expat to chat to people already living the lifestyle.
  • NGO/Nonprofit/Volunteer History in India: Unsurprisingly, India is a popular destination for volunteers and as such, NGOs and volunteer schemes are widespread, dealing with all manner of the country's issues from poverty and health through to education and environment. Popular volunteering schemes in India include those run by Raleigh, Bunac, and i-to-i but you should take your time to find the company that best suits your wants. Here is a complete list of NGOs in India.
  • Will I need to learn the language? The only country in the world with more English-speaking inhabitants that India is the USA. Around 11% of all Indians speak English and you will find that especially amongst young people in urbanized areas, English is widely used. As with every new culture, you should still make a point of learning the basics of the native language, in this case probably Hindi (although this can depend on the area you're working in).
  • How Will Volunteering Help My Future? Your time as a volunteer will prove an unforgettable experience; you'll gain a valuable first-hand insight into another culture, forge new friendships and create networking opportunities. The experience will also boost your CV no end; employers want to hire people who make things happen.
  • How to Save Money While Volunteering: India can be a cheap place to live, especially if you budget yourself properly. Get around by foot or public transport rather than by taxi. Find out where the best value restaurants and markets are. Take it in turns to cook with your volunteering companions. Keep tabs on how much you spend in the first week or so, and regularly check your bank balance.
  • Best Places to Volunteer: Mumbai, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Delhi, and Bangalore are good starting points but India has no end of great volunteering locations. What's most important is that the program is right for you.
  • Questions to Ask: Lots! Here are a few examples: How many people will I be working with? What is an average working day? What amenities are available? Which nearby sites should I visit?
  • Health and Safety of Volunteers in India: You'll need to be up to date with a number of vaccines for India. These include typhoid, hepatitis A and diphtheria. Depending on the areas you plan to visit, you may also require jabs for tuberculosis, hepatitis B, rabies, cholera, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. These latter vaccinations often apply to more rural areas. Tap water is generally unsafe for drinking, so stick to the bottled stuff. For detailed info visit MD Travel Health.

    India is not without its problems and wherever you are in the country, you should keep your wits about you, aware of such dangers as theft and reckless driving. There are certain areas of India which you are advised against traveling to altogether. These include the rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir (other than Ladakh) the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (other than at Wagah) and all travel in Manipur. More in-depth advice can be found on the U.S. Department of State and Foreign and Commonwealth Office websites.

    Most visitors to India experience little or no trouble, and your volunteer agency will also be looking out for you.

  • Visas: Visitors from the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia require an Indian visa. A tourist visa lasts up to 6 months. Allow yourself plenty of time to apply for your visa and ensure that your passport has remaining validity on it (6 months is usually needed). Visit your own government's official travel site for more details on obtaining a visa or visit VISA HQ.

Photo Credit: Children in India


Contributed by Will Noble

Will is a freelance writer from England who has worked for the Prague Post and the Bournemouth Daily Echo. He studied Scriptwriting for Film and TV at Bournemouth University and is co-creator of comedy podcast The Chop House. He regularly writes for the Pimsleur Approach leading retailers of language learning software including Learn To Speak Brazilian Portuguese and Learn To Speak Japanese.

Do you think there is something missing in our guide? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.

Programs & Reviews

Take a trip to India and volunteer with Volunteering Solutions! Volunteering is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture while learning and giving back at the same time. Volunteering Solutions partners with local NGOs to ensure the...
12 Reviews
More Programs by Volunteering Solutions Programs
Volunteer abroad with IVHQ in India! Highly affordable programs are available anywhere from a week to 6 months. Whether you're interested in healthcare, women's empowerment projects, teaching, or orphanage work, there are a variety of...
6 Reviews
More Programs by IVHQ
Discover Delhi. Get heady in the Himalayas. Immerse yourself in the welcoming Indian community of Himachal Pradesh, meeting volunteers from around the world as you make a difference in the local economy. The sky is the limit on this unique...
1 Reviews Request Info
More Programs by First Abroad
Join Love Volunteers on a variety of programs in northern India. Programs are available in 2 locations, Jaipur, and Dharamsala. Volunteers can join one of many programs, including teaching, orphanage care, women's empowerment projects,...
2 Reviews
More Programs by Love Volunteers
India is diverse in many aspects: history, religion, politics, landscape, language, and customs. Although India has recently become one of the fastest growing economies, much of its population still lies in poverty. Cross-Cultural...
12 Reviews
More Programs by Cross-Cultural Solutions
Education Project in India! Greenheart Travel partners with local community development organizations in Jaipur that provide funds for initiatives in under-served communities. These initiatives are focused on empowering women, building up...
2 Reviews
More Programs by Greenheart Travel
Projects Abroad has been providing volunteer placements in the developing world since 1992. Our volunteers directly impact local communities through service projects arranged and coordinated by expect in-country staff. We offer a wide...
6 Reviews
More Programs by Projects Abroad
If you have a passion for acting and a love of children, this is an excellent project for you! Our teaching Drama projects are based in primary and secondary schools in Madurai. You'll be introduced to the Principal on your first day and...
1 Reviews
More Programs by Travellers Worldwide
Work With Elephants in India. Volunteers required to do care and help work for Elephants and their mahouts. For a long time now all the elephants located in Jaipur have not been living together. Every day, in the morning, the elephants in...
17 Reviews
More Programs by Volunteer India
India is at once an ancient civilization with deep historical and cultural roots and also an economic and political juggernaut dominating the world stage. High tech parks sit next to ancient Hindu temples; majestic architecture lines...
5 Reviews Request Info
More Programs by Global Leadership Adventures
Volunteer working with children and Explore India You will be volunteering in a run down schools/ orphanages that desperately need volunteer help .You will be helping with education and extra curricular activities for children aged between...
6 Reviews
More Programs by Rainbow Voluntours
Join Volunteering India to travel and make a difference in New Delhi, India! Volunteering India offers a variety of types of volunteer projects. Volunteering India works with local organizations to guarantee the most positive social impact...
4 Reviews
More Programs by Volunteering India
UBELONG offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in Delhi. There are over 40 projects in different fields, including: caregiving, education, health, and business development. Highlights Affordable: Without compromising quality...
More Programs by UBELONG
DestIndia Internships is a leading social enterprise offering the exciting internships and volunteering opportunities in India for international students and graduates. We partner with companies with the highest reputation, who will give...
2 Reviews
More Programs by DestIndia Internships
Volunteer with local grassroots community organizations in India, focusing on raising environmental awareness, work with children, community development and more! Projects range from 2 weeks to 6 months. VFP partners with India non-profit...
6 Reviews
More Programs by Volunteers for Peace

Ask a Question About Volunteering in India

Do you have a burning question about volunteering abroad in India? We're here to help! Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Here are some example questions:

  • What's a typical day like on a volunteer program in India?
  • Do I need to speak the local language?
  • What kind of impact can I expect to make in India?