Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering for an NGO

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Have you ever considered volunteering? Whether it’s for a church, school, or another place, many organizations benefit from (and in some cases, completely depend on) volunteers to help. Volunteers also benefit from donating their time and effort to a cause they support: they gain a better understanding of the situation and culture surrounding the cause –– especially if it’s a volunteer program abroad. If you volunteer in a country where another language is spoken, you’ll also probably start to pick it up and actually learn it!

Read More

How to Volunteer While Traveling With Your Kids

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

For a deeper experience, consider a volunteer vacation, also known as voluntourism. Organizations such as Global Volunteers, Globe Aware, and Projects Abroad run one-week-or-longer family programs in the United States and abroad. Some allow children as young as six; others, like Earthwatch, have a minimum age of 15. Most organizations also provide cultural activities (such as language lessons) and tourism opportunities (the Lipsons visited Machu Picchu while volunteering in Peru).

Read the article here!

Podcast with Projects Abroad on Ending Orphanage Volunteering

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Jennifer Puyo from Projects Abroad sat down with Molly Stern, Communications Consultant at the IVPA to discuss the organization’s decision to end orphanage volunteering placements. In the discussion, Jennifer talks about how leadership came to make the decision to end this type of volunteering, other ways Projects Abroad supports communities and families around the world, and alternative placements for volunteers hoping to work with kids.

Thank you to Jennifer and Projects Abroad for this insightful conversation.

Why Standards Matter For International Volunteering Programs

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

Steve Atamian from Cross Cultural Solutions discusses the importance around the IVPA standards and why volunteers should ask organizations tough questions before committing to their volunteer abroad programs. Read more about the important IVPA standards on our webpage here and learn more about the incredible programs that Cross Cultural Solutions offer here.


For a link to our SoundCloud Podcast series, click here! 

AYUDA Podcast – Sending Volunteers Abroad with Diabetes

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The staff at AYUDA were kind enough to sit down with me and record the first podcast for the IVPA to discuss the wisdom they’ve gained over the years in sending people with diabetes (and other disabilities) abroad to partner with communities on educational projects surrounding diabetes. As more organizations work towards making their programs accessible to people with disabilities or who may need accommodations, AYUDA has been doing this type of work for a long time and sheds light on some of the considerations for both organizations and prospective volunteers before going abroad. Thanks to both Melanie Goldring and Arianna Tuomey for sharing their perspectives on this topic.


For more information on how to volunteer with AYUDA, please visit their website:


Prefer to listen via Soundcloud? Click here for our SoundCloud Page.

JK Rowling Condemns Orphanage Tourism – IVPA’s Responds

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

JK Rowling, famed Harry Potter author, has recently been posted on twitter about the dangers of voluntourism and orphanage projects. Rowling has founded a charity that seeks to end institutionalization of children called Lumos. The Lumos site states, “Of the 8 million children in institutions worldwide, more than 90% are not orphans.  Most have families who love them and want them but they are driven into institutions because of poverty and discrimination on the grounds of disability or ethnicity.” The charity works with stakeholders including governments, communities, caregivers, and families to remove the institution and replace it with a network of support for families. Rowling has been tweeting about voluntourism projects in orphanages and how unwittingly they can be damaging to the children and support corrupt institutions.  

While it is important to be aware of the dangers of orphanage volunteer projects the media has been portraying all voluntourism projects as harmful. Equating orphanage tourism as the same as all international volunteer experiences does not paint a clear picture of the field of international volunteerism. There are a lot of community-led, sustainable, and mutually beneficial volunteer projects around the world. A key message to the public is that potential volunteers should educate themselves and research before they embark on a volunteer trip.

There are many quality organizations doing great work in true partnership. There are also organizations, like IVPA, working to create standards of excellence in the field of international volunteering.

International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit association dedicated to promoting awareness and access to quality volunteer abroad programs. IVPA member organizations must uphold the IVPA’s Principles and Practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria.

Volunteering Internationally…in the US?

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Leonore Kriegel of Magdeburg, Germany, works in the Eden Gardens Block Club community garden. (photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Tribune)

By now, you may know that IVPA is a legitimizing body for international volunteer organizations to send volunteers outside of the United States on projects to improve the communities they temporarily inhabit. Our member organizations do fantastic work outside of this country, and we commend their efforts constantly.

Interestingly, though, no one ever seems to talk about the volunteer work that people outside of the United States do in this country. An article published in The Philadelphia Tribune titled “Overseas volunteer help tend Detroit community garden” details the international volunteer adventures of a few people from Germany flying over to help improve Detroit’s rapidly decreasing infrastructure, by helping out in the community garden, as well as partaking in other projects.

Their volunteer experience is very comparable to ours – starting with anxiety, driven by passion, and ultimately becoming an unforgettable and rewarding experience. These international volunteers, with nothing more than the intention to do good, help connect us to people from across the seas; and together, we can make a better world.

I definitely recommend giving the full article a read – we appreciate the international efforts to make the US a better place!

IVPA Updates for the Field 8.4.15 – Upcoming Events!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

There are LOTS of events coming up in the name of international volunteering. From webinars to conferences, we highly recommend becoming a part of the international volunteering community and giving these events a little love with your presence there! Our Executive Director, Ms. Genevieve Brown, personally handpicked these events to be aware of – here are all the events happening in the near future:

Building Bridges Coalition Webinars
1. September 9, 9:00AM PST –
“Pre-Departure for Your Fall Program Staff: When 80% of your field staff-time is going to a few students: maximizing the group dynamics in support of sustainability”
>>Presented by Sarah Persha, Director of Education for American Gap Association.
2. September 10, 9:00AM PST –
“Pre-Departure for your Fall Program Staff: Executive Function and Dysfunction in the Developing Young Adult Brain and Why it Matters to You as a Gap Program”
>>Presented by Sarah Persha, Director of Education for American Gap Association.
3. September 10, 11:00AM PST to 12:30pm PST –
“Fair Trade Learning: an ethical framework for global service, volunteering, and learning partnerships”
>>Presented by Eric Hartman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University.  Co-organized by the Building Bridges Coalition.
4. October 26, 10:30AM PST –
“Learning Service – a framework for cross-cultural exchange”
>>Presented by Daniela Papi, Deputy Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.  Co-organized by the Building Bridges Coalition.

Leading Change Summit – Nonprofit Technology Network

September 13-16, 2015

Washington DC

The summit is a collaborative approach to finding solutions to challenges. “Hubs” include program design and effectiveness, developing technical solutions, new models of funding, and activating constituents for impact.

Conference on Volunteering and Service – Points of Light

October 19-21, 2015

Houston, TX

This conference tends to focus on domestic volunteering but does have global and volunteer engagement tracks.

Global Engagement Forum – PYXERA Global

November 10-12, 2015

Washington DC (assumed)

The focus of this forum is around the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and bringing together social, private and public sectors to reach those goals.

Global Health & Innovation Conference – Unite For Sight
Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
13th annual Global Health & Innovation Conference is is the world’s largest and leading global health conference as well as the largest social entrepreneurship conference.

Research, program, and Innovation Prize/impact pitch abstracts are currently being accepted. The first abstract deadline is August 31.The registration rate increases after July 31

We hope that you all will check out and/or attend some of these awesome events coming your way! We encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities – happy volunteering!

IVPA Updates for the Field 8.4.15 – More News!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I know it hasn’t been too long since the last post on international volunteering making the news, but it seems like it’s a hot topic! Here are some more news finds, courtesy of IVPA’s Executive Director, Genevieve Brown (as always).

What’s Keeping Black Students from Studying Abroad


Only 5% of Americans who study abroad are black. “Losing out on cultural interaction abroad could also mean losing out on job prospects and other benefits. And these missed opportunities don’t just harm individuals—they also rob society of social capital. “

ISA Internships & Service-Learning have come together in a joint website

This website is a comprehensive new resource for all internship and service-learning opportunities available through ISA.

New Online Listing Service

Happy Reading!

Travel Tip #3 – Know the basics!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know there is a recurring segment of travel tips – tips for the volunteering amateur to the expert. For the third installment of this series, it’s a little vague, but VERY important – know the basics of the place you will be volunteering at!

Whether you are volunteering abroad for a long period of time, or  even just at a local establishment in your hometown, knowing the basics will always get you through the day. Two basic things people often forget to think about are:

1) understanding and being comfortable with the volunteer briefing, and

2) knowing where to go for medical emergencies.

(photo courtesy of

If you don’t know if a volunteer program is right for you, then pay close attention to the briefing that programs provide potential volunteers to see if it is suited for you. Make sure to keep in mind make-or-break factors such as technology access, weather, amenities, etc. When it comes to volunteering, it is always recommended to step out of your comfort zone; however, if that compromises your well-being, it may not be worth the risk. Find a program that suits you best!

(photo courtesy of

It is also a good idea to understand where to go if something pops up that requires medical attention. Always have contact information on hand, and also learn how to make appointments, pay doctors, and find/buy medications. Not only will it provide you with a peace of mind, but it may also save a life.

There are plenty more “basics” I could cover in this article, but I wanted to specifically highlight the ones I felt get neglected or forgotten. If you have any other basic tips to keep in mind when volunteering – whether locally or internationally – please comment down below!

And as always, thank you for reading!