In 1996, the LaFetra Foundation held a meeting with various international volunteer organizations to try to raise the standard of volunteer programs. The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) was born out of that meeting, independent from any past or current IVPA members. Since then, IVPA has become a distinguished mark of excellence that promotes responsible and ethical standards in the international volunteer industry.

In its early years, IVPA was a forum for all volunteer organizations to exchange ideas and discuss best practices in the industry. By 2000, IVPA represented around 50 organizations and had developed a set of Principles and Practices for the industry.

With the explosion of interest in volunteering after the tragedies of September 11, 2001, the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, IVPA recognized a need for an accrediting organization to provide unbiased information about quality in the industry.  In response to this need, the IVPA implemented a rigorous application process based on its Principles and Practices in 2007.

Today, IVPA and its members stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteering. The IVPA seal is a distinguishing mark of excellence for volunteer programs.