Every year hundreds of volunteers organize group trips with International Volunteer HQ, contributing to a variety of development projects in over 40 different destintations around the world. Volunteer group travel is fast becoming a popular way to volunteer abroad, and whether you’re a group of students, colleagues, friends or family, IVHQ specializes in providing customized itineraries for groups looking to travel and volunteer abroad affordably.
Want to learn how to volunteer abroad as a group? Let’s look at why group volunteering is such an awesome way to travel, and share, step by step, how to get your group volunteering abroad!
Why volunteer as a group?
When you travel and volunteer as a large or small group with IVHQ, you’ll gain the support of your peers, your group leader and a dedicated IVHQ Groups Manager. You can be accommodated together and placed alongside each other within your volunteer placement - whether it be on a Medical, Construction, Childcare or Teaching project.
You’ll find that each group member brings a new perspective to the entire volunteering experience, you’ll learn from each other (and a lot about yourself), while also being able to share new experiences with your fellow group members.
Hold on… What do you class as an IVHQ Group?
Simple really, an IVHQ group is a number of volunteers who wish to travel and volunteer together. Your group could have 8 members, or 28. You could simply be a group of like-minded friends looking for an adventure or Spring Break alternative, or a family looking for a meaningful holiday.
Volunteering abroad as a group can also serve as an exciting corporate or social team building adventure, taking personal and team development to the next level while providing support to communities around the world!
IVHQ works with many youth, high-school and university volunteer groups on a variety of different projects customized to the particular group’s area of study, including many medical and nursing students who take part on our popular Medical Electives.
Ok, we’ve got a group together… Now what?
Once you’ve gathered the members of your group, you’ll need to assign a group leader. Don’t worry, the group leader doesn’t have to take on lots of extra work (remember that you’re all working as a team!), but you’ll need a designated group member assigned to be the contact between your group members and your IVHQ Groups Manager, to ensure everyone has the information they need to prepare for the trip.
Up next, work out your group name! This can be any name that resonates with your group… You could be anything from the ‘Texan Spring Breakers Group’, to the official name of your university, school, business or church. Once you’ve got your group name sorted, it’s time to get in touch with our IVHQ Groups Manager.
Where can volunteer groups go?
A volunteer group can be accommodated in any of IVHQ’s 50+ volunteer programs around the world! The length of your stay can be between 1 and 24 weeks, and your group can begin volunteering at anytime of the year! Our IVHQ Groups Manager will work with you to customize your volunteer experience - this means you’ll be able to add excursions, language lessons and cultural activities to your group’s itinerary.
The type of project you opt for will depend on the preferences of your group. For example, a group of Medical students might choose one of our Medical or Healthcare projects, whereas a social or corporate group may prefer working together on a Construction and Renovation or Environment and Conservation project.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends or a mixed-skill group, we don’t expect you to all have the same interests. In this case, we allow volunteer groups to work on varied projects while still volunteering in the same destination. Half of your group can head off to a Teaching or Childcare placement, and the remaining group members could tackle a Sports Development project.
Also consider how you want to spend your weekends and free time. Will you disperse on separate activities, or stick together on an organized cultural or sightseeing excursion? Depending on what you all prefer, have a chat with our IVHQ Groups Manager who can help organize these activities to tie in with your volunteer schedule.
Once your group has made it to this stage of the process, it’s time to get in touch with us. We can then check the availability on your chosen program with our local team and ensure that we can accommodate your groups’ needs.
Anything further we can do before we leave?
As a group, you can decide if you want to fundraise for your trip, or fundraise to support the community you’ll be working in. Together it’s amazing what you’ll achieve, whether it enables you to volunteer for longer, or provide a generous contribution to the local community.
A ‘supply drive’ can be effective when coupled with your individual group’s goals. For example, Medical groups can gather vitamins, gloves and bandages for local clinics and healthcare centers, while groups heading to a Teaching placement could bring books, pens, and educational resources. Our IVHQ Groups Manager can offer direction in regards to the needs of each project to ensure your donation will assist in supporting sustainable initiatives within the local community.
Next, let your local newspaper, school and university know that you’re fundraising for an upcoming volunteer journey. Consider creating yourselves a logo, printing some t-shirts and having some fun “branding” your group. The more dedicated your group looks, the more support you’re likely to recieve, and gaining support from your community to help another community can make a BIG difference!
Time for take-off!
Finally your volunteer experience together as a group begins! Once you arrive in-country, you’ll be greeted by our local team and transported to your accommodation. From here, our local team will be your main point of contact, with on-going support behind the scenes from your IVHQ Groups Manager back at the IVHQ head office.
During your group placement, we encourage you to share your experiences with other IVHQ groups around the world. Start using the #IVHQgroups hashtag across your social media. Sharing your group’s experience can provide inspiration, confidence and support to future IVHQ Volunteer Groups.