Grassroots Volunteering is a resource connecting travelers to causes and communities in the places they travel. The site consists of a dual database of organizations all over the world:

  1. Volunteer Opportunities: Independent volunteer organizations all over the world. Travelers with weeks and months (years even!) use this search engine to locate local level community-based organizations in need of their skills. More here.
  2. Social Enterprises: These small businesses operate with an underlying social mission. All businesses are geo-located so travelers can easily support grassroots initiatives in the places they visit. More here.

How it All Started

Grassroots Volunteering was founded in 2011 by Shannon O’Donnell (more about her here) as a way to decommodify the volunteerism industry. The idea for GV was born in 2008,  when Shannon traveled around the world for a year, volunteering along the way, and envisioned a site freely offering service-minded travelers easy ways to support the places they travel. The site grew to help travelers access ethical and sustainable service-minded projects that fit their definition of giving back. For some travelers this means long-term volunteering, while others prefer to support locally run initiatives (like restaurants and boutiques with underlying social missions). No matter what service means to the traveler, GV facilitates meaningful connections between travelers and local causes and communities.

A husband-wife team from Utah offered the coding and website design work that brought the site into reality in 2011, and Hannah donated logo design work to round out the website. O’Donnell solely vetted the organizations in the GV database until 2013, when GV Ambassadors began mapping the world and expanding the project into every country and continent.

To find out more about how we vet organizations, funding, and how you can help, please check the FAQ page. And by using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.


Grassroots Volunteering has been featured by National Geographic, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Canada’s Globe and Mail, among others. View the highlights here. The site’s founder speaks about about international travel with universities and schools, and her work has been featured in a range of national and international news outlets including: CNN, Daytime, ABC, Fox news, BBC, News.com.au, Times of India, Money Magazine, USA Today, and more listed here.

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