The IVHQ Approach
Volunteering abroad is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world, with tens of thousands of volunteers packing their bags annually to partake in a volunteer program abroad. While many volunteers depart with great intentions, there are some companies running volunteer programs that are hugely expensive and yet largely ineffective. How is IVHQ different?
An important aspect of effective volunteer abroad programs is community involvement, and for that reason, it is imperative to have local stakeholders. This begins with volunteer programs being run by local people. At IVHQ, we have developed a bottom up approach to our volunteer programs, whereby we work with independent local organizations to receive IVHQ volunteers, place them on projects, and take care of them throughout the duration of their program. Local organizations are in the best position to place volunteers within that country – local organizations know the people, they speak the language, they can identify where volunteers are required, and most importantly, they are part of the community. These local organizations know what is important for the community and the people with whom IVHQ volunteers will be working.
AFFORDABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
A common question fielded at IVHQ on a daily basis is “How are your fees so affordable?” One of the main motivations behind establishing IVHQ back in 2007 was to create a volunteer travel organization that was affordable and yet transparent in its fees structure.
To ensure affordable fees, IVHQ works directly with local organizations throughout the world, many of which are based in developing countries, where the cost of living is relatively low. The low cost of living in these countries is directly reflected in the volunteer program fees – 100% of which are sent to the local organization in country. Using economies of scale, IVHQ is provided with heavily discounted program fees by these local organizations due to the fact that we provide large numbers of volunteers annually. These are always the most affordable fees that the local organization can provide, which ensures IVHQ volunteers have access to the best volunteer programs at the lowest prices. To ensure our affordable fees are also transparent, we developed the IVHQ Pricing Model.
The IVHQ Pricing Model was established so IVHQ volunteers know where their fees are going. This very simple pricing structure consists of two fees – the Registration Fee and the Program Fee.
The Registration Fee for every volunteer program is US$279 and is paid to the head IVHQ office in New Zealand. This fee confirms a volunteer’s place on the chosen program and provides the income which allows IVHQ to operate. The Registration Fee paid by each volunteer is used to pay for IVHQ staff salaries, program marketing costs, travel costs to inspect and maintain high quality programs, website maintenance and development, administration costs within the head IVHQ office, and a contribution is also made towards the IVHQ Fund.
The Program Fee varies depending on the volunteer’s chosen program and the duration of the program. This fee is due no later than 4 weeks before an IVHQ volunteer is due to start their program and covers all of the costs of the IVHQ volunteer program in country. These costs can include airport pickups, local staff salaries, accommodation, meals, project donations, in country administration costs and transportation costs. The Program Fee is also paid to IVHQ but passed onto our local teams prior to your arrival in country.
From the moment of registering on an IVHQ program, volunteers have access to huge levels of support and information to ensure they are confident in their roles as IVHQ volunteers. Our friendly team at IVHQ help prepare our volunteers for their trips abroad through on-going email and telephone correspondence and all registered volunteers gain access to a series of online volunteer training modules, developed exclusively for IVHQ volunteers. These training modules provide guidance in areas such as how to stay safe while volunteering abroad and how to ensure you make a valuable contribution to your host community. Our IVHQ Program Managers provide volunteers with a comprehensive information booklet and guidance regarding what they need to do next to prepare for their trip, in addition to facilitating communication with local staff in country. Once in country, our local partner staff take over, meeting and greeting volunteers at the airport, running orientation and training sessions, and providing 24/7 in-country support while volunteers are volunteering with IVHQ. After volunteers finish their program, they can stay involved with the IVHQ Alumni Network.
IVHQ BEST PRACTICE AND TRAINING
IVHQ partners with organizations throughout the world, to receive and place our volunteers on local projects. Sending thousands of volunteers abroad annually, we have developed a framework of best practice for hosting and managing volunteers to ensure our local partner organizations can create an effective fit between the volunteer and assigned placement to create maximum benefit for the project during the volunteer’s stay.
CONSISTENT VOLUNTEER NUMBERS
IVHQ is one of the world’s most popular volunteer travel organizations, sending thousands of volunteers abroad every year. Our consistently high volunteer numbers enables us to send a steady stream of volunteers to our partner organizations, allowing them to provide local placements with consistent volunteer numbers throughout the year. At busy times of the year when our programs reach capacity, they are capped and no more volunteers are accepted on these programs. This ensures the work by volunteers is effective throughout the year and not just during peak travel seasons.
Another benefit of being part of one of the world’s largest volunteer travel organizations is the fact we have created a community reaching all corners of the globe. We have IVHQ Alumni from thousands of universities, campuses and companies throughout the world. The IVHQ community connects via our social media channels, allowing past volunteers to provide advice for future volunteers and prospective volunteers to collaborate before they travel.
IVHQ TRAVELER EXPERIENCE
At IVHQ, we believe in the “work hard, play hard” philosophy. While it is important for our volunteers to spend their weekdays working hard and making valuable contributions to their placements, we also believe it is important to get away on weekends to experience more of their host country and refresh for the upcoming week. All the local organizations we work with supplement their income from volunteer program fees with travel and tourism (another reason we are able to keep our volunteer fees so low). This in turn provides IVHQ volunteers with access to incredible travel opportunities at affordable prices. We encourage all IVHQ volunteers to work hard, but also to experience the country they are volunteering in.
IVHQ RESPONSIBLE VOLUNTEER TRAVEL POLICY
IVHQ was established to provide affordable and high quality volunteer programs. The implementation of responsible volunteer travel practices is paramount to running any high quality international volunteer program. See our Responsible Volunteer Travel Policy to learn how IVHQ ensures it leads the way in responsible volunteer travel.