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 61 - 75 of 240 programs
Sankalp Volunteer Society, India
Orphanage Volunteer Work Opportunities, India
India
1 review

The aim of Sankalp Volunteer's orphanage work program in Jaipur, India...

Sankalp Volunteer Society, India
Volunteering & India Expedition Program
India
1 review

Spend a gap year in India on a six-week expedition and volunteer work...

Sankalp Volunteer Society, India
Volunteer Program for Street Children, India
India
1 review

Contribute to the Street Children Education Project. You will be...

Skilled Impact
Therapy and Medical Electives - Volunteer in Hyderabad, India
India
2 reviews1 interview

Skilled Impact is a responsible volunteering organisation that...

Volunteer Ladakh
Teach Young Buddhist Monks & Nuns in Ladakh, Northern India
India
3 reviews

Volunteer Ladakh, operating in the Himalayas of Northern India, is a...

MovingWorlds
Experteer Your Design & Branding Skills Anywhere You Want to Travel
Multiple Countries
1 review

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, Experteering...

MovingWorlds
Volunteer Your Skills in India
India
1 review

Use your real skills to create change by supporting locally-led...

Volunteering India
Summer Volunteering Program in India
India
2 reviews

Travel to India and get a taste of the rich Indian lifestyle as you...

India Volunteer Care
Participate in Community Projects in India
India
6 reviews

Change lives through India Volunteer Care! Located in Pondicherry...

Idex
Travel and Volunteer In India with IDEX
Multiple Countries
5 reviews

What all to expect in this excellent program : 1. Volunteer in the...

Volunteering With India
Theater Volunteer Work India
India
3 reviews

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

Global Crossroad
Volunteer Adventure in India-Lowest Fees & Trusted Since 2003
India
2 reviews

Join Global Crossroad most amazing mini-adventure program in India...

Global Crossroad
Volunteer in India - Lowest Fees & Trusted Since 2003
India
3 reviews

India, land of enlightenment and beauty on a grand scale, has a very...

Vivegam Godfrey Trust Profile
Vivegam Godfrey Trust: Volunteer at a rural day care
India
3 reviews

Would you like to do some voluntary work in India? Do you enjoy...

Globe Aware
Volunteer in India with Globe Aware
India
2 reviews

Participate in Globe Aware's India program and promote empowerment and...

Explore Volunteering Abroad in India

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

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Very good experience, ‏I rate Delhi 2/10 because the weather was polluted, the roads so traffic, unsafe driving and not clean. ‏ About the accommodation; it good, safe and very clean also the staff...

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Sambhali Trust supported over more than 12 years underprivileged women and children in Rajasthan for a better future with teaching them English, Math and several workshops. Many projects in Jodphur...

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I was volunteering at Sambhali Trust for one year and it was the best year in my life so far. All people at the NGO welcomed me with open arms and tried their best to make my stay as perfect as...

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