The Catholic University of America

Long Term Service Organization Questions

With the abundance of service opportunities available, how do you choose which program is right for you?  Below you will find two categories: Questions to ask Yourselfand Questions to ask of a Volunteer Organization.  A little research and reflection will have a huge impact on finding the right volunteer site and will make for a life-changing experience.

Questions to ask of a Volunteer Organization


  • What is the philosophy of the program? 
  • Does it list goals for the volunteer or of the organization?
  • In terms of a spiritual component, what can volunteers expect?


  • Age requirements?
  • Languages needed? 
  • Particular skills needed (teaching certification?)


  • What are the service options?
  • Do I have a choice of work options? 
  • Who makes the final selection - the organization or the placement site?
  • Is there a job description?


  • What are the financial costs to me?
  • Will I receive a stipend?
  • Who pays for housing and meals? 
  • Who pays transportation costs to the site, to training, back home?


  • Where will I live?
  • In a community of other volunteers?
  • A mixed community of volunteers and religious?
  • With a family?
  • On my own?


  • What kind of training will I receive?
  • Skills training?
  • Language training?
  • Is there an orientation program?
  • Is there any mid-service training or an end-of-service re-entry program?


  • Can my student loans be suspended until completion of my term of service? 
  • Will the program assist with the paperwork?


  • If I need to raise money, will the organization assist me? 
  • Are donations tax-deductible for my donors?


  • What are the dates of the training program?
  • When does the volunteer program end?
  • Can I extend my term of service if I desire?
  • What happens if I terminate my volunteer service early?


  • Is the area I work in safe?
  • (International: Is the political situation stable?)
  • What precautions are taken?
  • What resources are available to me on-site?


  • What type of health insurance policy will I receive? 
  • Who pays for the policy?
  • (International: Do I need to get a physical, a mental health check-up, immunization shots, etc.?)


  • What kind of support will I receive?
  • Is there a support person for each site?
  • Are there people to whom I can turn if I need to talk about an experience?
  • Will the volunteer program staff make site visits?


  • Can you give me the names of people who have participated in your program with whom I can talk or meet?


  • Do I get vacation?
  • Can I travel back home for a family emergency, or for holidays?
  • Who pays for an emergency trip?
  • (International: can I travel back to the US? Will I need a visa to be there?) 
  • Any religious requirements or expectations as per spirituality (i.e. prayer, retreats, etc.)?

Provided by the St. Vincent Pallotti Center