Despite rapid economic growth, a large portion of India's population remains impoverished and in need of basic human necessities. 70% of the population still has 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 -- not to mention issues with women's rights, education, and small business development.

Right now, you could volunteer in India to help underprivileged populations 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 volunteer projects, when done responsibly and with the engagement of local communities, are important aspects of India's overall development.

Whatever area of volunteering you’d like to be a part of, chances are that India will offer it. Depending on which sectors can make use of your specific skill sets, 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 the types of volunteer projects 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.

What kind of Volunteer support exists in India?

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.

What NGOs and non profits work in India?

Unsurprisingly, India is a popular destination for NGOs and charities of all missions and sizes. NGOs India has a full list of NGOs in India.

Will I need to learn the language to volunteer in India?

The only country in the world with more English-speaking inhabitants that India is the U.S. 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, which in India could be Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, Tulu, Urdu, or any one of India's many official languages.

Where are the best places to volunteer in India?

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.

Often, the type of project you want to work on will dictate where you go.

What kind of visa will I need?

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.

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. Also check to make sure that water bottles are properly sealed, as some scammers will refill water bottles with unclean water and resell them.

As for safety, India is not without its problems and wherever you are in the country, you should keep your wits about you and be aware of dangers such 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 (other than a bit of traveler's tummy...), and your volunteer agency will also be looking out for you.

Contributed by Will Noble

Volunteer Programs in India

Volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful
Displaying 31 - 45 of 232 programs
VESL
Volunteer and Teach English in South East Asia
Multiple Countries
9.91 •11 reviews

Looking for a great opportunity to develop your C.V whilst having the...

Uplift Humanity India
Uplift Humanity India Summer Volunteer Program
India
9.94 •16 reviews

Our mission is to empower juveniles in India to break the cycle of...

The Tarzan Way
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Rishikesh, India
India
9.83 •6 reviews

Rishikeshi, is also known as the yoga capital of the world. Lying...

Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad - IKPVA
Most Affordable Program in India from $430 USD for 2 weeks
India
10 •2 reviews

Volunteer abroad with Iko Poran in Jaipur, India, the pink city. Iko...

Developing World Connections
Developing World Connections Projects in India
India
10 •2 reviews

Developing World Connections volunteers work with one of our two...

American Jewish World Service
AJWS - World Partners Fellowship Volunteer in India
India
9.4 •5 reviews

AJWS World Partners Fellowship is a fully funded award granted to...

Volunteering India
Street Children Volunteering Program in India
India
9.11 •9 reviews

Make a difference by volunteering in shelter homes in Delhi, India...

Volunteering Journeys
Volunteer in India with Volunteering Journeys
India
8.58 •12 reviews

India is one of the most diverse and culturally enriching countries...

Volunteering With India
Theater Volunteer Work India
India
8.67 •3 reviews

Do you like helping amateur children & young people in acting, drama...

Active Internationals, India
Volunteer Abroad - Volunteer in India
India
9.91 •11 reviews

Active Internationals offers volunteering program in Rural & Semi...

Volunteering India
Volunteer for Teaching Program in Palampur, India
India
9.6 •5 reviews

Volunteers joining the Teaching Program will work in primary schools...

Volunteering India
Short Term Volunteer Program in India
India
9.33 •6 reviews

Volunteering India welcomes all willing participants to be a part of...

The Tarzan Way
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Jaipur, India
India
10 •2 reviews

Rajasthan is one of the most colorful and flashiest states in all of...

Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme
Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (India)
India
9.83 •6 reviews

As our name suggests, the Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (HELP...

Sankalp Volunteer Society, India
Volunteer Programs In India $110/week
India
9.43 •7 reviews

We offer you or your group meaningful volunteer work opportunities...

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I volunteer in Delhi?

    There are dozens of volunteer program options in Delhi, India that can be found on Go Overseas. In order to decide on a program that will best work for you, you'll want to think about the type of work you want to be doing: teaching/education, building projects, female empowerment, healthcare, etc. Opportunities are located all over the city.

  • Where can I volunteer in India?

    India is a large country with many heavily populous cities. You can find volunteer opportunities in most of them, including: Jaipur, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, and many others. You can also find opportunities that serve a rural population, and these will generally be outside of the large urban centers. Some of these options might take you to the Himalayan region or the forests in the south.

  • How can I volunteer for free in India?

    There are a number of global work exchange programs that allow you to volunteer and in return receive room and board. Organizations like WWOOF and Workaway offer opportunities like this in India. But there are also a number of affordable alternatives listed on Go Overseas that, while not free, provide structure and security for a small fee.

What People Are Saying

Although our trip was cut short because of COVID19, I still had a blast. I made a lot of friends whom I still talk to even after we returned home. My overseas educators Rebecca and Adam were so kind...

Protovillage

I recommend Carpe Diem to anyone interested in taking a Gap Year. The organization was so supportive my whole trip, and my time in India was amazing. The semester was fun and challenging in all the...

Taken in the Himalayas

I came back from India a more confident, compassionate human being. I made friendships that will last a life time and had leaders who widened my perspective tremendously. Carpe Diem had a miraculous...

On a rooftop during the last few days of the trip!

Related Volunteer Abroad Articles