Make a difference in 2023! Discover our cheapest programs
Community Development Volunteer Project in the USA - San Diego
Next start date available: Apr 10, 2023

Community Development Volunteer Project in the USA - San Diego

Interested in helping people as a Community Development volunteer in the USA - San Diego? International Volunteer HQ’s Community Development project is a great opportunity for volunteers to give a hand up to a city with one of the biggest low-income and homeless populations in western America. Volunteers gain experience in a range of community development activities that help increase access to support services needed to prevent and alleviate homelessness and poverty in San Diego.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from $626 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help provide support and assistance to disadvantaged communities

  • Enjoy the great weather and stunning beaches of San Diego

  • Stay in a comfortable hostel near many tourist attractions

Key information

Support marginalized & low-income communities
Based with local initiatives
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Fully hosted experience from $626 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 12 weeks
Enjoy California's 'city of beaches'
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who have compassion for disadvantaged people and communities and want to help give them a better quality of life.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

San Diego has one of the highest low-income and homeless populations in western America, and this population has increased in the last few years due to lack of affordable housing. This is compounded by the fact that people who overcome homelessness in San Diego return to the streets at a much higher rate than in other West Coast cities. Volunteer help directly benefits the lives of those who rely on support services for food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.

As a Community Development volunteer you can expect to assist with a variety of tasks including but not limited to:

  • Coordinating food outreach campaigns
  • Renovating homeless shelters
  • Sorting and distributing donations
  • Supporting urban farms and food access initiatives
  • Collecting housing data
  • Assisting with education programs in community centers
  • Administrative tasks
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Covid-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting disadvantaged and minority communities the hardest. To reduce inequalities, we must provide better services and support to refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

Why do Community Development volunteering in San Diego with IVHQ?

As a Community Development volunteer in San Diego you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving access to basic necessities for vulnerable people
  • Supporting local initiatives to help their communities
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining a wide range of volunteer experience
  • Learning about community development
  • Exploring San Diego and California

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program and must be a minimum age of 14
  • All volunteers aged 14+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 14-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply For Free

Not sure which program to join?

Get personalized recommendations >

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit

”Pushing past your fears will be extremely worth while at the end of it all. You can learn much more going the distance then sticking with what you know. It’s also very safe and it really lets you get to know yourself better.”

Read reviews from Community Development volunteers in San Diego

See more reviews
Volunteer Abroad in the USA, San Diego with IVHQ


The IVHQ USA - San Diego volunteer program has volunteer placements in neighborhoods throughout the coastal city of San Diego, located on the Pacific Coast of California.

Known as ‘California’s beach city’ with near perfect weather year round and 70 miles of spectacular coastline, you’ll discover some of the most picturesque views the west coast has to offer, along with a thriving arts and culture scene and a strong sense of community. You’ll gain an authentic insight into San Diego by working alongside local people and supporting community-driven projects. Make sure you don’t leave without a surf lesson, a visit to the House of Blues, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, or some whale watching out on the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you are looking for short term volunteer opportunities, or longer volunteer vacations in the USA, the IVHQ San Diego volunteer program can support you to make a positive difference while experiencing everything that this iconic city has to offer.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday. Volunteers need to arrive in San Diego on the Sunday before orientation day.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at San Diego International Airport (SAN). You’ll be greeted at the airport by a representative of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee if you arrive on the Sunday before your program start date. Pick-ups are made between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Sunday, and volunteers must arrive during this period. If you can only arrive after 8:00 PM, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

If you are traveling in San Diego prior to your volunteer program, our local team can arrange for you to be picked up in the San Diego CBD area on Sunday between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our San Diego team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs all day. It covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in San Diego. It includes an introduction to San Diego, reflection on the importance of volunteering, code of conduct and expectations, transportation and safety instructions, and an overview of the week. Volunteers travel to the volunteer project sites and take a brief tour of the surrounding area. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

Your first day of volunteering in the USA is taken up by a program orientation, which includes a visit to your project placement to meet the staff you’ll be working with. From there, you’ll start your volunteer work.


Volunteer schedules are varied based on the organization you’re placed with and the time of year. Usually volunteer days range from 3-5 hours. A typical volunteer day may look like:

8:00 - 9:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 - 1:00 PM Lunch break.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the project typically ends between these times. Use your free time to either travel back home, sightsee or do some shopping. In the evenings you are free to use as you wish. Most volunteers head out together to get dinner and enjoy the city.


With 70 miles of coastline and beaches on offer in San Diego, this destination is an ocean-lover’s dream. Take time for a snorkeling adventure at La Jolla Cove, head on a whale watching trip or even hit the waves at surfing at spots like Point Loma and Coronado Beach.

The city also boasts a lively nightlife, delicious food, and a vibrant arts scene so there is something for everyone. You can head off to explore the city and its history by visiting spots including; Sunset cliffs, Balboa Park, the House of Blues, La Jolla Playhouse Theatre, San Diego Air and Space Museum, USS Midway Museum and the great San Diego Symphony.

Slightly further afield, you can head over to Tijuana, Mexico for an exciting long weekend.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style public hostel in the heart of downtown San Diego, mere steps away from San Diego’s Bayfront Park as well as some of the city’s hottest spots including restaurants, bars and shops.

You should expect basic dormitory style accommodation. Rooms are mixed gender and you could share a room with up to 16 other volunteers. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds with bedding provided but you will need to bring your own towel.

The accommodation has shared bathroom facilities equipped with western toilets and showers. Staff clean the accommodation throughout the week. However, volunteers are required to do their own dishes and to keep their rooms tidy.

The accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen, reading/computer room, common area, and a TV. There are a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets, and pharmacies in close proximity to the accommodation, not to mention most tourist sites being within short walking distance.

The accommodation is equipped with WiFi for you to use and a free house phone for calls within the US and Canada. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to access the internet and make calls further afield.

Single-sex dorms or private rooms, if desired, can be booked after you have registered for the program, subject to availability and an additional cost.


San Diego boasts a diverse food scene with influences from its ethnic and cultural mix as well as its proximity to the coast. Whether it’s a Mexican feast or ocean bounty, you’ll be able to treat yourself to many delicious meals during your stay.

Volunteers are responsible for their own breakfasts, lunches and dinners, but with no shortage of delicious food options in the city, you’re sure to find a wide range of food, specific to your personal taste. You may also prepare your own meals using the fully equipped kitchen available at the hostel.

Volunteers are expected to do their own dishes after each meal so please be prepared and willing to do this.


Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
1 week $626 Equivalent to $89/day
2 weeks $979 Equivalent to $70/day
3 weeks $1,257 Equivalent to $60/day
4 weeks $1,584 Equivalent to $57/day
5 weeks $1,850 Equivalent to $53/day
6 weeks $2,160 Equivalent to $51/day
8 weeks $2,659 Equivalent to $47/day
10 weeks $3,160 Equivalent to $45/day
12 weeks $3,711 Equivalent to $44/day
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of $329 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, extra meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in San Diego generally find US$300 - US$400 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as meals, and local tours and activities.
  • Any cancellations or changes within 14 days of a volunteers start date is subject to a minimum 25% late change/cancellation fee.

Check what's required to visit United States

Check out the widget below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for United States, based on your country of residence.

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Safety and support with IVHQ

Protecting against COVID-19:

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Essential city information

City San Diego
Population 1.43 Million
Languages English
Currency United States Dollar (USD)
Time zone GMT-07:00 Pacific Standard Time

Weather and climate

San Diego’s west coast location means that the climate is warm year round, with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. August is the hottest month in San Diego with an average temperature of 77°C (12°F) and the coldest is December, with an average temperature of 65°C (18°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 12 in June. The wettest month is February with an average of 58mm of rain. The best month to swim in the ocean is August when the average sea temperature is 70°F (21°F).

Other projects you may be interested in

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!