GivingWay is a social marketplace that is completely changing the way international volunteers engage with nonprofit organizations worldwide. As an open platform, volunteers can easily locate and engage directly with nonprofits to plan and arrange volunteering experiences that are truly impactful for volunteers and organizations alike.
As Volunteer Travel (or "Voluntourism") became increasingly popular, it became clear that finding nonprofit organizations to volunteer with abroad was easier said than done. Geographical and connectivity constraints made it very hard for volunteers to find organizations and for organizations to recruit volunteers on their own. Hence, a new type of travel agency was born – the Volunteer Placement Agent.
Basically, Volunteer Placement Agents are commercial companies that serve as middlemen between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. For a typical fee of thousands of Dollars, volunteers are sent to nonprofit organizations they usually know nothing about.
The Volunteer Travel market today is completely dominated by such placement agents. While some agents do in fact provide valuable services, for the most part this situation has created 3 main problems:
1. Costs: It has become extremely expensive to volunteer abroad. What’s more, only a tiny fraction (if any) of volunteer fees reaches those who really need them – the local nonprofits themselves. The vast majority of this industry's $ go to the agents.
2. Transparency: In most cases volunteers only know upon arrival which organization they will be volunteering for, which itself causes many problems. How can you prepare for your volunteer work when you don't even know where you’re going?
3. Impact: Since volunteers and nonprofits don’t communicate directly, all too often volunteers are matched by agents without properly considering how their relevant skills can best suit actual needs on the ground. The result – both volunteer and nonprofit don’t get the maximum value out of the experience.
We believe the current system of volunteering through agents is wrong and we have set out to change this.
We believe volunteers and nonprofits should connect directly and that by doing so the chances of maximizing impact are far greater. We also believe that if any fees are involved with the volunteering, they should ALL go to the nonprofits themselves (For more about fees, read the questions below).
We therefore created a social marketplace through which anyone can access hundreds of nonprofit organizations around the world, connect directly with the organizations, and set out to accomplish truly impactful volunteering experiences for all involved.
GivingWay is unique in 3 ways:
Often not, but sometimes yes.
As a platform we do not interfere with how nonprofits choose to manage their affairs with volunteers – it is entirely up to the organizations to decide whether they charge their volunteers any fees. Many organizations don’t charge any fees at all, but some do request a registration/application/commitment fee. In addition, some organizations will require fees for providing accommodation and meals. Read through the organization profile to see if and what it charges volunteers and make sure you understand what you will be paying for.
In any event and to be very clear – such fees are requested by the local organizations themselves (not GivingWay) and 100% of such fees go to the organizations.
The organizations you'll find on the platform:
While we wish that only legal, locally-based and ethical organizations join the GivingWay community, we are aware that as a digital marketplace we cannot check all organizations, especially in light of the global spread and remoteness of many organizations, and therefore cannot guarantee that no mistakes will be made. We do, however, reserve the right to examine organizations that do not comply with our requirements and to suspend or cease activity at our discretion. In addition, as we are strongly opposed to the whole concept of “Orphanage Tourism” and the negative effects this has on vulnerable children, we do not wish to have orphanages on our site; if we are notified that a certain organization on the site is an orphanage or can reasonably be suspected of conducting such activities we will take immediate action to handle the issue.
It is our hope that members of the GivingWay community comply with our policies but we are not responsible for the activities and conduct of the organizations themselves. We strongly encourage volunteers to do as much research as possible and use their judgement when examining various organizations.
Finally, please bear in mind that reviews from volunteers who were actually on the ground serve as an excellent vetting mechanism and we urge volunteers to make this small effort for the benefit of the GivingWay community. In any event, if you have a concern that any organization on the network does not comply with our policies we urge you to let us know as soon as possible so that we can look into the matter and take appropriate measures if needed.
If you're still not sure how you can get involved, or what you can contribute, you’ve reached the right place.
There are many different ways to get involved:
The GivingWay Passport™ opens up a whole level of activities and features on the platform that you will find useful when starting to arrange your volunteer trip.
After exploring the various volunteering opportunities available on the platform, the next step is to get active. With the GivingWay Passport™ you can use the various tools GivingWay has developed to:
For as long as your GivingWay Passport™ is valid, you will enjoy unlimited access to all of the features above.
Volunteering abroad can and should be a truly meaningful experience. We believe that the more prepared you are, the better experience you will have. This is where we see great value in our community – to exchange information with organizations and volunteers, to get all your questions answered, to learn from the experiences of others and to find the right people to travel with – all these things shape the actual experience you will have and help in making the most of it all.