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Social service and nonprofit jobs for adventurers


Some of us just have too much of the adventurer in us to sit in an office all day. If you’re at your best working in the great outdoors, you might want to consider nonprofits. They offer some great opportunities for those ready to explore the world.

“I have an incredible job. Initially as a volunteer and later as a consultant to international nonprofit aid agencies,” writes Matthew Bolton, a private consultant to humanitarian and development organizations, in a post for Transitions Abroad. “I have worked in ten countries, including Bosnia and Iraq. I have worked alongside a former Marxist guerrilla, arranged financing for landmine clearance, helped organize relief convoys to conflict zones, talked with some of the poorest people in the world, and watched international diplomats dancing to folk music in a garden surrounded by minefields.”


Field work gives you the ability to think on your feet in fluid situations and diplomatically negotiate in atypical environments.

Field work gives you the ability to think on your feet in fluid situations and diplomatically negotiate in atypical environments. Cross-cultural experiences and newly acquired linguistic skills will look great on your resume.

And the best part is there are multiple ways you can explore the world while making it a better place. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. Estimates put the number of NGOs worldwide at 10 million.

Just by their very nature, environmental nonprofits need you outdoors and on the front lines. And the demand is growing. In 2017 alone, over $11 billion was donated to these causes.

“Have you ever heard the beauty of a whale’s song? These giants of the deep used to be hunted around the world – last century 3 million were slaughtered and many species were driven to the edge of extinction. We are part of a movement that stopped that from happening,” writes Greenpeace on its website. “Let’s take a trip back to 1975. That was the year we made our first Save the Whale action, which was in the North Pacific Ocean and against Soviet whaling ships.”

No matter what your planet passion may be – sustainability, renewable energy, saving wildlife, protecting the oceans – it can lead to an unforgettable experience.

Want to work outside while making a difference in people’s lives? The outdoor health and wellness arena uses the wilderness as a therapeutic approach to address trauma, addiction, emotional and behavioral issues for teens, young adults, veterans and families.

“As I sit and watch the sun grasp bits and pieces of the valley I sleep in, I have this wonderful sense of serenity,” wrote a participant of the Anasazi Foundation, an outdoor behavioral health care provider. “This whole experience was like a tea-time for my soul. I drank in all the beauty of mother nature. I sipped on the happiness of the bubbly brooks. I gulped in the freshness of life and what living can do for me and my heart. There was never a day out here that I didn’t want to live life to its fullest.”

A healthcare background is helpful, but not mandatory. There is a need for wilderness instructors, trail walkers or guides. Backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering and whitewater rafting are desired skills.

Perhaps you’d like to take your adventure to a foreign land? There are a number of international nonprofits just waiting for you to pack your bag.

CARE, UNICEF and Doctors without Borders are examples of better-known humanitarian organizations with opportunities in the field. But there are also areas you can work in that you might not think of when going international. Some groups are using technology to make an impact. Others are developing sports programs as a way to make a difference.

Most international nonprofits will help you get started with such germane needs as visas, vaccines, learning a language and securing housing.

So get up from that desk and start exploring. There’s a world of opportunity waiting for you out there.



[1] Bolton, Matthew. How to Become an International Aid Worker An Experienced Professional Explains How It’s Done. Retrieved from:
[2] Giving USA. (2018) Annual Report on Philanthropy.  Retrieved from:
[3] National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) Retrieved from:
[4] The 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report (2017) 25 Facts and Stats about NGOs Worldwide.  Retrieved from:
[5] The Muse Editors. How to Break Into Nonprofit Work. Retrieved from:
[6] White Creek Walking. Stories From The Anasazi Foundation: Retrieved from:
Body Photo Credit: finchfocus /
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