Written by Mildred Delgado, a young and responsible marketing strategist at Academic Brits. She works with a company’s marketing team in order to create a fully-functional site that accurately portrays the company.
You know your heart, and your passion is to have meaningful travel experience. You know you want to serve in such a way that positively impacts the world, and you know you don’t want to do it alone. Now what? You have so many resources and paths to navigate, but not a clear idea of where to start. Here are some necessary steps you can follow to alleviate the confusion when it comes to organizing a memorable group volunteer trip.
What and Where?
It seems pretty straight forward that the first thing you need to do is decide where in the world you need to go. This can be overwhelming, given that the world is a big place, and there are so many communities in need. So to help navigate this, focus on the why. Focus on the mission you want to accomplish and what type of work you want to do. Once you can narrow down what kind of outreach and volunteer work the group will provide, you can start researching communities and programs that require that type of heart.
GivingWay is a great place to look for a nonprofit once you know what you kind of volunteer work you want to do. The platform works with over 5,000 organizations from all over the world. You can filter your search by location, cause, cost and more!
When it comes to what you are doing, this also includes partnering with a nonprofit that you can aid and walk alongside as you navigate the planning process. This is an important step and should not be overlooked. The GivingWay platform allows you to communicate directly with a nonprofit you would like to volunteer with thanks to its built-in messaging app.
Who Are You Taking with You?
This is almost, if not equally, as important as where you are going. Once you narrow down the where and the what, you can decide how many hands are needed. You also don’t just want any hands. Knowing how many people you need along for the ride gives you the ability to start reaching out to find people who share a heart or mission for the work you want to be doing. Creating a team of passionate and committed volunteers is probably one of the more difficult steps, right up there with fundraising. Don’t let this process discourage you, instead continue to give honest and authentic descriptions of what the trip will entail, and I promise this will save you from much frustration when you are out on the field. It is better to have a smaller team with a coherent mission than a large group that doesn’t cooperate.
What to See
The reality is, even when it comes to volunteer work, you may have quite a bit of free time, and during this time, you will have the opportunity to learn so much about the place you are visiting. Take advantage of any moment where you can experience the real hands-on culture of the community. “Although hitting all the tourist hotspots is a great time, sitting down and eating local and shopping in the local area will give you a much more fulfilling experience as you pour your time and energy into the community. It can even be helpful to make a checklist that combines both tourist and local experiences that you would like the group and yourself to have,” says Jenna Sallivan, travel writer at NextCoursework and Britstudent. This will help when free time comes up, and you scratch your head, forgetting all of the things you wanted to do before you got there and got busy.
Making It Happen
Now the least favorite part most of the teams experience when planning to volunteer abroad, the money. A considerable way to aid this effort is by being candid with the team about having a willingness to ask. The people who never see a penny come in for their trips are the ones who are too afraid to be bold and ask. Most of the time, family and friends, and even local organizations are willing to give when they know the funds are going towards a good cause. There are also many crowdfunding sites and travel gurus who can teach the step by step process of fundraising. Also, don’t forget to look into scholarship programs.
Although not as common, if fundraising is something that is holding your team back, you have to be willing to pull out the stops to make the mission come to life. Volunteering trips come in all shapes and forms and their costs can vary greatly. Volunteering through GivingWay is relatively cheaper than other options as there is no intermediate and the cost you pay covers only hat it costs the organization to host you. There are also free volunteering options available where you only have to cover the costs of your flights, visa requirements and insurance.
Give the Team a Timeline
“The worst mistake you can make is letting everyone on the team commit and fund on their own fruition. You have to be stern with the “when” to keep the group on the same page and keep costs low by budgeting and early bookings,” says Natalie Rowson, a volunteer at Write My X and 1 Day 2 Write. The best thing you can do is give everyone precise dates from the very start about when you need to know their commitment and when they need to have flights funded. Booking flights as early in advance as possible. This will give you time to make sure the entire group will stay together, and you can have all travel documentation and processes studied up and ready to go.
It Is in the Details
When it comes down to all things packing, budgeting, visas, and insurance, the key is in the research and asking the right questions. Start with one thing at a time. Start with packing; that seems easy enough. You can find so much material online on how to coordinate packing with international flight rules and group travel. Don’t be afraid to use those resources and modify the individual items to what your area of interest would require. Same with visas and insurance. Doing your research and asking former travelers the required documentation way in advance will help prevent confusion and chaos later on in the planning process. You want to ask these questions and do this research before you ever start handing out trip information. Know the answers and have the document information before anyone on the team even has to ask.
Enjoy the Experience
As silly as it sounds to remind you of this, don’t forget to enjoy the work and the experience. You will get overwhelmed. Your team may need motivation and encouragement at times, but the only reason to put in the work and give the time is to watch the fruit of your mission come to full bloom. Remember to rest and enjoy the purpose behind all the details and stressful nights. The world is ready for you to have that meaningful travel adventure you always dreamed of.
Head to our blog for more helpful tips about volunteering abroad! You can also check out our GivingWay Volunteer and Travel Advice Facebook group to connect with other volunteers and nonprofits! 😁
The views expressed in this guest post are solely those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of GivingWay. The material and information contained on the GivingWay blog is for general information purposes only. GivingWay will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in the GivingWay blog.