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Volunteer Abroad FAQ with IVHQ

Volunteer Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know that IVHQ is a legitimate volunteer travel company?

International Volunteer HQ is a registered New Zealand company and our incorporation number is 1936998. We are also registered and verified by a number of international volunteer travel portals, including GoOverseas and GoAbroad. We have placed tens of thousands of volunteers abroad and many of these volunteers are active in sharing their experiences via IVHQ social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. If you wish to talk to an IVHQ staff member, please free to contact us and we will answer any queries or concerns you may have.

Why volunteer with IVHQ?

IVHQ was established to provide affordable, high quality and responsible volunteer programs for people wishing to volunteer abroad. The company is built on ten strong foundations that we aim to provide every volunteer with – Affordability, Responsibility, Quality, Support, Safety, Friendship, Need, Loyalty, Experience and Enjoyment. Visit our Why IVHQ? page to learn more about why thousands of volunteers choose to volunteer with IVHQ every year.

Why volunteer abroad?

Volunteering is founded on the concept of giving through the donation of your time, your skills, your energy, and often just simply your presence to help others in need. However, while volunteers have a tremendous effect on the people they work with, you will very rarely find a volunteer who feels they have given more than they have received. The lessons and benefits that a volunteer receives while volunteering abroad are endless and can include increased self-confidence and social awareness, development of life skills, personal growth, friendship and building of independence. Furthermore, volunteering can help to enhance career prospects. Not only do volunteers increase their skill base, work experience and international contacts through volunteering abroad, employees often look favorably upon those who are willing to go outside of their comfort zone and give up their time to assist others.

Volunteer abroad frequently asked questions

Why pay to volunteer?

As an IVHQ volunteer, you give up your time and your skills to assist abroad, therefore many people fail to see why they should also have to pay to volunteer. The Registration Fee you pay to volunteer abroad with IVHQ goes to IVHQ in New Zealand and is the fee that we receive to run IVHQ and facilitate your volunteer abroad trip. The Program Fee you pay goes directly to IVHQ's partner organization in the country you are volunteering in. The Program Fee is used to pay for the expenses associated with your stay in country, including airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, food and staff support to ensure your volunteer program goes as smoothly as possible. All IVHQ partner organizations are funded almost entirely by the Program Fees and therefore in order for the program to continue, it is imperative we charge volunteers for their airport pick-up, accommodation and meals. To see exactly what you receive for your fees, visit our Program Fees page.

Why are the IVHQ fees so much more affordable than other volunteer travel companies? 

IVHQ was established to provide genuinely high quality and responsible and yet affordable volunteer travel opportunities. Our Registration Fee and Program Fees have been designed to keep the quality of our volunteer programs high, yet at the same time ensure we do not include any unnecessary costs or middle men, which often inflate the fees of other organizations. The Program Fee you pay goes to our partner organization in the country where you are volunteering, leaving only the Registration Fee to cover costs outside of the country, such as marketing, quality control, program visits, and pre-departure administration and support from your dedicated IVHQ Program Manager (to help you prepare before you depart). Many other companies take thousands of dollars from volunteers, much of which never make it to the country in which you are traveling to. IVHQ does not sacrifice the quality of our programs, rather we work on a transparent financial system, whereby we can operate at a sustainable level, provided we have high numbers of volunteer travelers participating on our programs.
While other companies may only have two or three volunteers in each country at one time, due to the fact IVHQ has thousands of volunteers joining our programs annually, we can operate on a system of economies of scale, allowing us to keep fees low and the quality of our programs high. In each of the countries where we run programs, we have at least 150 IVHQ volunteers participating on our programs annually, with some programs hosting over 800 volunteers! The majority of our programs average between 250 and 450 volunteers each year. By guaranteeing our partner organizations high numbers of volunteer travelers, we can ensure IVHQ volunteers are offered low fees. The benefits of this are not limited to low fees, but also great social interaction with other volunteers from a diverse range of cultures. Not only are our programs incredibly affordable, but their popularity means you have the peace of mind of knowing that you will always have a group of international volunteers to socialize, work and travel with.

How do I volunteer with IVHQ?

Visit our Booking Process page for more details on how to volunteer abroad with IVHQ or simply apply online now. 

How to volunteer abroad with International Volunteer HQ


Does IVHQ accept groups? 

IVHQ does accept volunteer groups and if a group has 10 or more members, we can even arrange special projects and itineraries for groups. Every year, IVHQ hosts hundreds of group volunteers from universities, schools, church groups and companies who participate on a wide variety of volunteers programs. More information is available on our IVHQ Groups page.

Can I volunteer with a friend(s) or a partner?

IVHQ accepts friends and couples who wish to volunteer together and we can ensure that you are placed in the same accommodation and project as a friend or partner, provided this is request prior to arrival on the program. When you apply online, please make a note on the application form with your friend's name stating you wish to be placed together.

Can children under the age of 18 volunteer with IVHQ?

If a person is under the age of 18, it is not possible for them to volunteer abroad on an IVHQ volunteer program alone. However, if they are volunteering as part of a group (with adult minders) or with a parent, guardian or family member (18 years or over) then this is acceptable. When a volunteer under the age of 18 applies to volunteer with IVHQ, it is important that he/she notes the name of the person they are volunteering with (and their minder does the same), so we can ensure they are placed together and our staff know they are eligible to volunteer.

Medical placements volunteer abroad with International Volunteer HQ

Do I need specific skills or qualifications to volunteer?

Requirements vary from project to project, however for many of our projects, our only requirements are fluency in English, a clean criminal background and a willingness to learn. It is important to note that for the majority of our Medical and Health projects, volunteers must be qualified or training in a relevant medical field (documentation to be presented to partner organization on arrival in host country).

Is IVHQ a charity and does IVHQ accept donations?

IVHQ is a social enterprise and not a charity. As a social enterprise we are a registered company that does good. IVHQ is focused on providing the most affordable, quality and responsible volunteer abroad opportunities available and due to the fact we are not a charity, we will not accept donations. If an IVHQ volunteer wishes to make a donation to their volunteer placement, we encourage volunteers to inform our local staff so they can ensure the donation is invested as intended. If you are not volunteering and wish to make a donation, a very worthwhile charitable organization that always requires more funding is the KCC Slum Project in Kenya. You can donate to KCC directly via the KCC website.

Can people from outside of New Zealand volunteer with IVHQ?

Although IVHQ is based in New Zealand, we are an international volunteer travel company and therefore we accommodate people of all nationalities. 99% of our volunteer travelers come from outside New Zealand. IVHQ volunteers travel to our programs from a variety of countries, however we find the majority come from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, China, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy and Ireland.

Volunteer Abroad Thailand frequently asked questions

Will I be working with other volunteers?

On the majority of IVHQ programs, volunteers are placed in small teams at placements and can expect to be working with at least two to three other IVHQ volunteers. Some of our programs are flexible and if you wish to be placed by yourself our local team may be able to accommodate this, however in most cases IVHQ volunteers live and work together in small groups.

How do I obtain a criminal background check?

To participate on an IVHQ volunteer program, all volunteers are required to provide a criminal background check to our partner organization during their program orientation. As IVHQ volunteers are from all over the world, there is not one process for applying for a criminal background check that will work for all. Among a number of factors, it will be determined by each individual's country of residence. As a first step in obtaining a criminal background check, you should check online or contact your local police station to enquire what the process is in your country. To ensure the background check you obtain meets your IVHQ Program requirements, you can refer to your program information booklet once you have registered, or you can ask your IVHQ Program Manager. For further guidance, please see the IVHQ Criminal Background Check page.

Is travel insurance included in the Program Fee?

Travel insurance is mandatory in order to volunteer abroad on an IVHQ volunteer program. To keep costs as low as possible for volunteers, we do not include travel insurance in our fees. While IVHQ does everything it can to ensure your trip abroad goes smoothly and is a fantastic, memorable experience, it is imperative to ensure you have adequate travel insurance should you fall sick, your bags go missing, or something is stolen. IVHQ has therefore partnered with World Nomads to ensure volunteers have access to the best insurance deals, designed specifically with volunteer travelers in mind. World Nomads is recommended by highly regarded travel experts, Lonely Planet, and is underwritten by insurance giants Allianz, IHI, BCS Insurance Group, BUPA, Mondial Assistance and Millstream. This insurance covers medical emergencies, emergency evacuation, trip cancellation, personal belongings and personal liability. World Nomads quotes are extremely competitive and they are one of the only insurance companies that allow travelers to claim whilst traveling, or to extend their policy if they decide to stay longer. Visit our Travel Insurance page to get more information, and a simple, no obligation free quote from World Nomads - IVHQ’s recommended travel insurance provider.

How far in advance should I apply and register?

We do not have a deadline for volunteer applications and registrations, but our advice is the sooner the better. IVHQ volunteer programs are very popular and at busy times of the year, some programs are booked up months in advance. As soon as you apply to volunteer with IVHQ, you will be connected with an IVHQ Program Manager who will help you prepare for your volunteer trip. Once registered on an IVHQ program(by paying your Registration Fee), you are given access to extra features on My IVHQ and are provided with an in-depth IVHQ Information Booklet about the program and country you are traveling to. Your IVHQ Program Manager is also on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have and to collect all the required information from you before you depart. In addition to this you, are introduced to our local team who will email you to welcome you on the program. In order to avoid disappointment, please apply online and register as soon as possible.

Do I require a visa to travel to the country I wish to volunteer in?

Every situation is different and visa requirements are dependent on the country you are traveling to and your nationality. You can contact the IVHQ team to provide guidance on where to find the information you require, or contact your nearest embassy for the country you are traveling to. More information can be found in your IVHQ Information Booklet which you will gain access to after registering to volunteer with IVHQ. 

Will IVHQ provide a reference or act as a referee for me once I finish volunteering?

Your IVHQ Program Manager can provide you with a letter of reference at the completion of your trip, upon request. Our local staff are often happy to act as referees for past volunteers as well.

Volunteer abroad frequently asked questions accommodation and meals

What are the accommodation and meals like?

The type of accommodation and meals provided on IVHQ programs vary from country to country. For more information on accommodation and meals, visit the specific country you are interested in via our Programs page.

Which vaccinations will I require?

The vaccinations you require will depend on which vaccinations you have had previously, and the country that you are traveling to. The only vaccination legally required in some countries is Yellow Fever. This is only a requirement in some countries in Africa and Latin American, depending on where you have been traveling through. A full list of recommended and required vaccinations is provided within the IVHQ Brochure located on each IVHQ program page, and also in your IVHQ Information Booklet, which you will receive once you register on an IVHQ volunteer program.

Do I need to be able to speak the local language?

Language requirements vary from country to country and can depend on the type of project you are participating on. However, for the most part, volunteers are generally only required to speak English to participate on an IVHQ program. On some of our programs in Latin America, volunteers are require to speak varying levels of Spanish or Portuguese. More information on language requirements is provided within the relevant Program page. IVHQ volunteers are provided with basic language lessons during their orientation and we recommend that volunteers take additional language lessons where available. The more you can speak and converse in the local language, the more you will be able to immerse yourself into the program and local culture.

Can IVHQ help with fundraising?

IVHQ has a partnership with leading crowd-funding website Fund & Seek which provides IVHQ volunteers with access to professional online fundraising services. IVHQ volunteers have been successful in raising thousands of dollars via Fund & Seek, highlighting the effectiveness of this system in raising funds. If you would like to explore other forms of fundraising in addition to Fund & Seek, see our Volunteer Fundraising Tips page to pick up some more fundraising ideas from previous IVHQ volunteers. Your IVHQ Program Manager can also provide you with a verification letter that verifies that you are volunteering with IVHQ and gives potential donors some information about what you are doing to help you raise money.

volunteer abroad frequently asked questions traveling and sightseeing

Can I go traveling and sightseeing during the weekends of my volunteer program?

At IVHQ we believe an important aspect of any IVHQ volunteer trip abroad is the sightseeing and tours that volunteers can do outside of their volunteer work. Although we believe an IVHQ volunteer trip abroad is the most authentic way to experience a country through living and working with locals, we also understand that many of our volunteers wish to visit and experience sites like regular travelers. Our local teams are flexible and often encourage you to take time out from volunteer work to travel and explore the country you are volunteering in. 

Is there a discount for returning volunteers or volunteers registering on multiple IVHQ programs?

All volunteers who have completed an IVHQ program are eligible to receive a 10% Registration Fee discount when they register for their next IVHQ program. Volunteers who register for more than one IVHQ program for the same trip (eg. 2 weeks in Kenya, followed by 2 weeks in Ghana) are eligible to receive a 10% Registration Fee discount for each subsequent IVHQ program that they register for. See the IVHQ Rewards Terms and Conditions for more information.

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