Thinking about offering international volunteer opportunities through your company’s volunteering program? These opportunities can be rich for both personal and professional development, taking employees beyond their comfort zones and teaching them to use their skills in new ways while benefiting international communities. It’s in this unfamiliar space that employees are given the opportunity for a truly transformative experience.
By Christine Johnston
They also have the potential to deliver significant social and environmental impact in local communities – when it’s done right. Don’t know where to start?
Check out these organizations:
Are you looking for a way to engage your millennial employees? Emzingo, founded in Madrid, Spain, by IE Business MBA students, specifically targets young professionals and provides two main programs: NextGen Fellowship Program and The Impact Learning Trek.
The NexGen Fellowship is a 6 to 8 week program that allows participants to contribute their skills to a hands-on social impact project in an emerging country with nonprofit and social enterprise partners.
The Impact Learning Trek (ILT) is a 8 to 10 day program in developing countries with emerging markets, that exposes participants to their unique social and economic challenges through a firsthand learning experience from local social enterprises.
Costs: Both programs require a fee (dependent on the program and country you choose), on top of travel costs to and from the service location.
Check out participants sharing their experiences with Emzingo:
Do you want to use international volunteering as a team building opportunity? Hands Up Incentives offers companies the opportunity to recognize their staff through a volunteer incentive trip which includes gala dinners and luxury hotels, while also providing a grassroots experience giving back to local communities through “hands on volunteering.” Hands Up is a valuable opportunity for team volunteering and team building, taking employees out of their comfort zones together.
Costs: Contact HandsUp for a customized program assessment and quote.
Check out participants sharing their experience from a Softcat incentive trip to Cambodia:
Do you have self-starting employees that need a hand finding personally relevant and exciting volunteer opportunities abroad? MovingWorlds acts like a dating site and guarantees the individual – in this case, the employee – a personalized match to a verified social impact organization in one of many countries around the world. All the employee needs to do is fill out an online profile and the system will provide a volunteer opportunity match aligned with their professional skills and personal preferences.
Costs: Annual subscriptions range from $99 USD to $799 USD per employee. Partner organizations provide free accommodations to volunteers, making travel costs less expensive.
Check out MovingWorlds Founder, Mark Horoszowski, talking to tech sector employees in Seattle about the opportunities they offer and why:
Do you want to offer international pro bono opportunities with clear social and economic benefits as part of your corporate volunteering program? PYXERA Global provides unique opportunities tailored to the specific professional skills of your corporate employees looking to build grassroots capacity abroad with local public and civic partners. These opportunities act as a way to give back, as well as a way to enable your employees’ personal and professional development in a new context.
Costs: Contact PYXERA Global for a customized program assessment and quote.
Check out PYXERA Global’s CEO, Dierdre White talking about Purposeful Global Engagement and the benefits of Pro Bono Volunteering:
Do you want to partner with an organization that makes a difference by focusing their efforts specifically on equality, economic development, health and AIDS, education, and governance? By focusing on these issues, Uniterra creates international cooperation between volunteers and partners. Their zones of volunteer service are Canada, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Find out more about Uniterra here.
For companies, Leave for Change is Uniterra’s corporate volunteering initiative. It enables employees to use part of their annual vacation as a volunteer assignment in a developing country. Employers invest in the development of their human resources and demonstrate leadership in corporate social responsibility. Employees put their knowledge and skills to work in an international development project, expand their personal and professional horizons and acquire a deeper understanding of broader global issues.
Costs: In the majority of cases, employers cover part of the costs and Uniterra covers the rest such as pre-departure training, vaccinations, visas, flights, lodging, food and local travel required for work. See additional information here.
Check out the Leave for Change Pinterest board here.
VSA provides not only skills-based opportunities, but skills-sharing with the communities in which employees volunteer. Based in New Zealand, potential volunteers can search the site for positions that best fit their skills, interests, preferred location, and duration. At Realized Worth, we’re big fans of VSA CEO Gill Greer. Gill has been a source of knowledge and insight for RW and plays an important role in Impact 2030, an initiative to achieve the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals through corporate volunteering.
Costs: Once approved, VSA provides volunteers with a living allowance as well as accommodations, return flights, comprehensive insurance cover, and visas and permits. Find out more here.
Check out Volunteer Service Abroad working with our partners in the wider Pacific to give women the economic opportunities to help lift them and their families out of poverty.
Whether your corporate volunteer program focus is on unique team building experiences, engaging millennial employees, providing pro bono opportunities relevant to your employees, or assisting self-starting and adventurous employees, these organizations can help you do it right.
Have you ever taken your employee volunteers on an international service trip? Have you volunteered internationally yourself? Tell us about your experience! Leave a comment below or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultant, Project Manager, Realized Worth