Six Ways (Big and Small) to Help the World

Gap years filled with well-meaning assertions to travel while simultaneously saving the world can be at best naive and at worst glib. While motivations for such declarations are well intended, the means by which such ventures are achieved - and the impact they have - are often misplaced. From innovative applications to skill-set focused volunteering, we've compiled a shortlist of positive actions (big and small) to help our world.

Donate to Help Refugees

The biggest facilitator of grassroots humanitarian aid in Europe, Help Refugees fill gaps and acts where other NGOs and governments don't. Funded by a group of "normal" people, the organisation provides vital aid to those fleeing war, persecution and poverty.

Work ranges from life-saving emergency treatment to sustainable initiatives such as education and housing. 94% of donations are put directly towards supporting refugees across Europe and the Middle East, and the charity now funds more than 80 projects worldwide. Among other initiatives, their work in Syria - in partnership with the White Helmets - has funded 10 ambulances to help the Syrian Civil Defence in their response, as well providing resources for psychological therapy and rehabilitation treatment needed to enable injured first responders to return to work.

Click the Action Button

Bridging the gap between media and impact, Action Button is about doing more than simply reading headlines; it's about changing them. Founded by Jordan Hewson (Bono's daughter), it was created to provide media consumers with an accessible way to make a difference. Using inaugural technology, the application moves readers beyond passive news consumption by enabling them to immediately donate to a cause, sign a petition or email a policymaker. Partnering with charities including Amnesty International, Planned Parent-Hood and One Campaign and working media partners include VICE, The Guardian and The Huffington Post, it's a quick way to achieve positive and reactionary change.

Go Experteering

One of the primary barriers to global progress is a lack of access to expertise, aka "the talent gap". Go Experteering aims to fill this by utilising the skill sets of international volunteers to solve worldwide challenges. Ethical placement partners like, can help you find the right match with organisations that provide benefits in exchange for your skills. Ranging from arts to architecture, finance to fashion, you can search for hundreds of live projects across Central America, Europe, India and beyond. Training is provided pre-trip to ensure a high-impact experience and sign-up is straightforward. Simply create a profile, become a member, get matched, take a training course and get ready to go experteering.

Offset Your Travel

Flying one international roundtrip has the warming effect of about three tons of carbon emissions. TerraPass helps you calculate your emissions and donate directly to offset them. To start, purchase their Eco Tourist Bundle worth a carbon offset of 10,000lbs, the equivalent of five average flights of four hours or 10,800 miles travelled by car. Funds collected are contributed to projects to further clean energy from wind farms and catalyse landfill gas capture among other initiatives.

Become a UN Volunteer

When large-scale emergencies like the Ebola outbreak, Syrian Refugee Crisis and Philippines cyclone occur, a rapid coordinated response is critical to ensuring that the UN can cope with the demands, support the host government and reorient its programmes. Becoming a UN Volunteer enables you to be directly involved in humanitarian, peace-building and post-conflict recovery, as well as sustainable development and poverty eradication. Profiles in high demand include technical specialists, legal and medical professionals, political scientists, public information officers, administration and finance experts as well as professionals with experience in development, management, humanitarian affairs and peacekeeping. In most cases, a college degree and fluency in English is required in addition to other key skills.

Stay Local

When you stay at an international chain, 80% of profits leave the country you're in, fact. To tilt that statistic back to at least neutral, opt to stay local with groups like Airbnb, Innclusive, CouchSurfing, or a locally owned hotel. Small choices like this couldn't be more simple and help to keep travel income in the areas that need it most.