Choose from five projects in South Africa: a child care centre, an Aids hospice, teaching life skills, working with street children or in a rehabilitation programme.
Cost: £725-£904 per month
Contact: 020-3214 6024 ; www.be-more.org/be-more-en/
Specialises in marine conservation in Madagascar, Malaysia and Fiji. Learn how to scuba-dive and protect the environment at the same time.
Contact: 020-3176 0548; http://blueventures.org
Work with street children across Latin America. Volunteer opportunities include getting out-of-school children to return to the classroom, helping abandoned pregnant teens, animal protection and gardening.
Contact: 00 51 4494 992 4445; http://bruceperu.org
Caledonia Languages Abroad
Study, work or volunteer while perfecting a second language. Learn Spanish in South America or Spain, French in France or the Caribbean, Portuguese in Portugal or Brazil. Russian, German or Italian are also offered.
Cost: £900-£1,660 for a month
Contact: 0131-621 7721 ; www.caledonialanguages.co.uk
Community Service Volunteers (CSV)
Reduce your carbon footprint by staying in the UK to volunteer. Work in refugee programmes, homeless shelters and young offenders' institutions, or care for disabled students.
Cost: Free accommodation and food, with weekly allowance
Contact: 0800-374 991 ; www.csv.org.uk/gapyear
Coral Cay Conservation
If you're passionate about the underwater world and conservation, then spend up to four months scuba-diving in the Philippines or Tobago.
Contact: 020-7620 1411 ; www.coralcay.org
Ethical volunteering website
Take a look at this website before choosing a gap-year company. It provides sound advice and recommendations on how to ensure the placement you choose genuinely helps the host community and country.
Contact: 07720 461716 ; www.ethicalvolunteering.org
Work on the Arctic border in Canada as a teaching assistant for 10 months or constructing houses for low-income families for a minimum of three months. Some relevant experience needed.
Cost: Salary of $50 a week and all living expenses paid.
Contact: 001 416 690 3930 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Take part in a new initiative run jointly by the British Council and VSO. Spend six months volunteering with young people from different countries in an exchange programme whereby you spend half the time in their country and half in the UK.
Cost: £600, all other costs covered
Contact: 020-8780 7500 ; www.globalxchange.org.uk
International Voluntary Service
Check out the IVS databases for a variety of projects such as art workshops with disabled people in Croatia, helping in a national park in Botswana, or working with visually and physically impaired children in Bangladesh. You may need to be flexible with dates.
Cost: varies depending on project, some free.
Contact: 0131-243 2745; http://ivsgb.org
iSPiiCE – Integrated Social Programmes in Indian Child Education
Immerse yourself in Indian culture. Choose from the following projects: women's empowerment, street children, education, child care and health care, lasting from two weeks to three months.
Contact: 00 91 9805 401 998; www.ispiice.com
Spend a month overlooking the Indian Ocean in Mozambique, while working on community or medical projects.
Contact: 00 27 797 456 778 ; email@example.com
If you are looking for a serious placement working with an established NGO in Peru, this could be for you. Placements in education, public health, environment, business and development, and human rights, generally lasting one to three months.
Contact: 0051 1242 6670 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervise kids' art activities in Brazil for £83 a week, live with an Indian family and volunteer on local community projects for £47 a week, or teach in Thailand for up to 12 weeks for a flat fee of £100, and much more.
Cost: £195 one-off fee, plus the weekly charge.
Contact: 0800-345 7582; www.originalvolunteers.co.uk
People and Places
Volunteer on a bicycle project in South Africa, work with lemurs in Madagascar, conserve Swaziland's savannah or ecotourism project in Gambia, to name just a few.
Contact: 0870 0460 479; www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk
Runs 14 projects across Africa and South America, such as rainforest sustainability in Ecuador, helping children prepare for carnival in Rio de Janeiro, and a water relief project in Kenya.
Contact: 01273 777 206; www. questoverseas.com
Tailor-make a placement for yourself in Kenya working for an HIV/Aids charity. Work with sensitisation, outreach programmes, caring for sufferers, fundraising and research etc.
Cost: £210 per month
Contact: 00 256 414 595 996 ; www.rweyowa.org
S H A D (Support and housing assistance for people with disabilities)
Volunteer in the UK and give people with disabilities the same choice that is available to the able-bodied.
Cost: free accommodation in London, £60 weekly allowance
Contact: 020-8675 6095; www.shad.org.uk
South Africa Volunteers
Become part of South Africa's Port St Johns community. Volunteer in a school or boys' home, work in a life-skills centre or co-operatively set up a coffee base cash crop.
Cost: £25 per day
Contact: 00 27 721 023 949 ; email@example.com
Student partnerships worldwide
Help combat HIV/Aids by volunteering on youth empowerment and health education schemes in India, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia for five to 12 months.
Contact: 020-7976 8070; www.spw.org
Ticket to Ride Worldwide Surfing Adventures
Learn to surf in Costa Rica, South Africa or Mozambique and qualify as an SSA level-1 surf instructor and Surf Proficiency Awards lifesaver, and hopefully earn some money afterwards.
Contact: 020-8788 8668 ; www.ttride.co.uk
You don't need to go abroad to get involved in a community volunteer project. Check out the Timebank website and search for projects in your local area.
Contact: 0845 456 1668 ; www.timebank.org.uk
Immerse yourself in Nepalese culture by working in an orphanage, teaching English, learning Nepali or raising awareness of environmental and health issues. Projects last two weeks to five months.
Contact: 00 977 1449 7282 ; www.veepnepal.org.np
Meditate with Thai monks, learn Thai boxing, undertake a nursing placement, turtle conservation, teaching, or school development, all in Thailand.
Contact: 07518 356 223; www.venus-volunteering.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Opt to live in Sri Lanka, India or Thailand for one to six months teaching English, working as a language assistant or on a community project.
Contact: 0845 094 3727; www.vesl.org
Village Education Project (Kilimanjaro)
Teach English to village children on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for six months or more.
Cost: £3,250 including flights
Contact: 01732 743 000; www.kiliproject.org
Work in an orphanage or on a grass-roots community development project in rural parts of Tanzania for four to 12 weeks.
Contact: email@example.com; www.volunteerafrica.org
Cloud forest conservation in Ecuador, leatherback sea turtle research in the Caribbean, wilderness conservation in Nevada (cost: £110 regardless of length of stay). Some other projects have age limits.
Contact: 01935 864 458 ; www.workingabroad.com
Check out this mammoth database containing 1,700 voluntary organisations with the potential for 1.5 million annual placements across 214 countries.
Contact: 01935 825 588 ; www.worldwidevolunteering.org.uk
WWISA: Willing Workers in South Africa
Opt to spend two weeks to three months living and volunteering in Kurland village. Work in housing initiatives, kids camps, environmental programmes, a primary school, day-care centre, organic farming and healthcare assistance.
Contact: 00 27 445 348 958 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Way Development
Aimed at graduates, this organisation places skilled volunteers with experienced NGOs all over the world. Projects involve helping victims of child prostitution in Cambodia, or psychosocial rehabilitation in Botswana, and last at least six months