We’re thrilled to announce that our new volunteering program in Italy signifies the first step of an exciting plan that we have to change the face of international volunteering.
We built IVHQ around the idea that international volunteering should be accessible to everyone and should provide an affordable solution to people looking for a meaningful travel experience. We’ve now supported more than 116,000 volunteers to make a valuable contribution in more than 50 destinations and we’re proud to have been a small part of each and every experience.
But quite a bit has changed since we started out in 2007. There are now far more providers offering far more options to a growing pool of volunteers and there are more questions than ever before about the long term role that volunteers play in supporting social or environmental projects in developing countries. We’ve been very conscious of these questions and we are constantly taking steps to ensure that our volunteers make a positive contribution to a community in a responsible way.
The future of international volunteering isn’t in poverty and it isn’t in developing countries alone. We think the future of international volunteering is in communities across all countries - rich, poor and everything in between.
The perception that volunteering is all about wealthy people traveling to poor communities needs to change and we know many of our volunteers put a great deal of effort into saving and fundraising for the opportunity to volunteer abroad. More important than that, we know that they leave their volunteering experience richer than when they arrived - which means that they gained an incredible amount as a result. This directly challenges the somewhat naive perception that volunteering is a one-sided thing and we think it’s important to acknowledge.
As we flip volunteering on its head and offer programs which could see people from developing countries traveling to developed countries to experience a new culture, and to offer a unique perspective and contribution to a community or environmental project, we want to make sure that this two-way exchange is truly maximized.
Our volunteers are motivated to make a difference, to be active and engaged citizens of the world and we believe they should be enabled to do this in any country and in any community. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to Nairobi, New York, or Naples, in the future we want to empower anyone willing to get involved with a community project and make a lasting contribution. We’ve never been shy about innovating and giving something a go. Our expansion into developed countries has started with an outstanding program in Italy, which is already proving popular, and we have some really exciting plans ahead. So watch this space!