Frequently Asked Questions
Before volunteering abroad with IVI, you’ll likely have many questions! Take a look at some of our most asked questions, and if you still need help, you can contact us at any time.
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Involvement Volunteers Association Inc is a government registered Not-For-Profit organisation established in 1989 (Australian Business Number 61 226 364 141). This can be verified by contacting the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) in Australia. Outside Australia, contact an Australian embassy or consulate.
Over 33+ years, we’ve placed thousands of volunteers overseas successfully. We are more than happy to put you in contact with recent volunteers upon request. Please feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss any queries or concerns you may have. You can also check out our vollie photos/videos on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
There are plenty of benefits of volunteer travel, for both the local community and for yourself. You may be wondering how much of a difference you can actually make while volunteering abroad for just a few weeks. On some of our projects it may be hard to initially see how your work is changing anything, but we can assure you that changes does happen!
We have seen for ourselves, as well as via contact with our overseas partners, how much of a difference volunteer’s do make. From building schools, repairing temples, teaching English, and performing health checks and education, over time results happen. Each volunteer is valued, and we encourage you to keep in contact via social media, to see how the project is developing after you have left.
The benefits for the volunteer themselves are also huge. Volunteer travel is more than a holiday, you get to interact with the local people and live like them. This can open your eyes to another culture and build confidence with talking to people from all around the world. You may learn a new language, build life-long friendships, build confidence and independence, learn new skills, as well as seeing some incredible sights along the way. Our volunteers often come back home already planning their next overseas volunteer travel!
We have 33+ years of experience hosting international volunteers and have first-hand experience of the projects. With over 25,000 volunteers successfully placed abroad, we offer over 100 programs to choose from in 20+ countries.
We are a proud non-profit charity, with an excellent safety record, as well as offering in-country 24/7 support & emergency assistance. We focus on projects with genuine needs. You’ll leave feeling like you truly achieved something.
As we are a non-for-profit and registered charity, we welcome any donations, big or small. You can visit our donate page, where you can make a general donation to IVI, or donate to a specific course. 100% of the donation money goes towards our projects/ causes and directly to where it is needed most.
We require two fees to be paid, the application fee, which helps secure your spot, and then the final program fee, which is due 33 days before departure.
The application fee goes to IVI to cover the costs involved in creating and maintaining the programs including inspection costs, marketing, and administration. It also covers all of your pre-departure support and welcome pack.
The program fee goes directly to our in-country partner organisation, whose job is to look after you and ensure you receive a high quality, unforgettable experience. Program fees will go towards your accommodation, meals, airport pickup, orientations, and 24/7 support whilst on your project.
At IVI, we believe in ethical volunteering, which is why the program fees go directly to our local organisations. Whilst helping to cover the costs of hosting volunteers in-country, these fees also help to provide local employment and can help support the wider community.
As a non-profit organisation, profit is not a main motivator for us. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate in quality life changing experiences at an affordable price.
By working with local organisations, we can help to keep the project costs as low as possible. The local NGO’s and non-profits we work with know where the help is needed most on the programs and can support volunteers whilst on project. By using a local company, costs are lower, as well as providing more employment opportunities for the local community.
IVI is as big or as small as the volunteer base that signs up for the teams each year. Although some outside funding and grants are used throughout the year to run the organisation, the volunteer program fees are how the organisation sustains itself.
IVI charges a program fee in order to fund our projects in areas of operation and to run the organisation at large. This cost may be paid out of pocket or through fundraising. Program fees go towards project costs, housing and food, volunteer support, training and handbooks, promotional items, domestic overhead, etc.
When you pay a program fee, you are facilitating impact around the world, as every location costs the same for volunteers but not the same to run on the ground. By volunteers paying for their upkeep on the programs, it keeps volunteering free, so the local teams are not out of pocket.
The application fee ensures volunteers receive pre-departure support and helps with regular auditing of our programs to ensure they are sustainable, meet our goals, and are kept safe for volunteers.
Absolutely! You will have a dedicated volunteer manager assigned to your booking from the time you enquire to the time you return home. You will also have dedicated in-country assistance on all programs. Our in-country staff are specialists in volunteer operations and have heaps of valuable information to share.
You’ll receive a departure pack which includes all the relevant information pre-departure such as contact details, addresses, transfer information, local customs, culture and much more. Once in country, for most programs you’ll also receive a detailed operations guide with more detailed localised information. Alternatively, you can contact IVI in Australia, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in the world.
Yes. You may volunteer in as many countries as you wish. The US$275 application fee is a one off and covers you for as many programs or countries of your choosing within a 12-week period.
When applying, there is a dropdown section for any additional projects/ countries you wish to take part in. This allows you to select a second project, either in the same country or a different destination.
If you would like to volunteer on 3 or more projects, just write this down in the ‘extra information’ box and you can talk through your itinerary with our volunteer manager.
No. While many volunteers have just finished high school or university, people of all ages are valued.
We have had volunteers as young as 16, however written parental consent (such as a letter) is required if under 18. Most importantly, a volunteer needs to be self-sufficient, independent, and be able to travel alone in a foreign country.
Certain placements have a lower limit of 21, and this is specified where applicable. To date, our oldest volunteer was 75! We are always happy to accept mature individuals for our programs.
Yes! You will both need to fill out an application form individually. Just make sure to add in the ‘extra information’ box, the name of your travelling companion.
Certainly. Over the years, IVI has placed hundreds of volunteer groups from corporate team building to universities, church groups and schools. We can tailor most programs and offer group discounts as well. Volunteering in a group is amazing as it really maximises the impact which can be made in a short period of time. For more information, visit our groups page.
In placements involving the care and education of children, volunteers are required to provide a Police Records Clearance. Please allow time for your Police Records Clearance to be processed.
We advise you to organise your Police Records Clearance as soon as possible, so that we can send a copy to the local host. Please take the original with you so that you can produce it if required.
Some projects may be able to count towards part of your university or college course, however we cannot guarantee that all aspects of the overseas project will meet every requirement you may need. We advise you to speak to your tutor, to get a detailed description of what you will require, and then to contact us before booking your placement, to ensure this is possible.
We have had volunteers in the past, use some of our medical projects as part of their course requirements, but as each institution is different, be sure to check with us/ and or your tutor prior to applying.
Applying is simple and no money is charged upfront. You will put in your project details and dates, and a bit of information about yourself, then we will get back to you with project approval within 24 hours. After this, you will need to pay the registration fee, and then the final fee 33 days prior to departure.
For more information on how to apply, please visit our ‘how to apply’ page.
For sure! We operate from Australia, but anyone can volunteer with IVI. All our fees are in US dollars, and the application can be made from anywhere in the world, as you will apply online. We welcome people from all nationalities and backgrounds.
You can apply at any time, however, to ensure we have availability it’s recommended to book at least 3-6 months prior to departure. To confirm your spot, we take a deposit of US$275 with the balance paid 33 days prior to departure.
Generally, no experience is required on the majority of our projects.
Some placements do require specific skills and/or experience and are generally included in the specialist program categories. These are mostly for our medical/ veterinary programs.
Travel insurance is mandatory for all programs; however, we do not provide this coverage within the application or program fees.
For the best travel insurance deals, there are plenty of affordable options, such as World Nomads, Insureandgo, or you can use Compare the Market to find the best deals. Remember to always read the small print and ensure it covers what you need.
This depends on the country you are visiting and your nationality. Some countries will allow you free entry without a visa for a certain length of time, and other countries you will need to organise your visa several months prior to departure.
We advise you to look at your own country’s government travel advice page, as well as government page of the destination you are headed to. Here you will find all the advice on visa requirements.
This depends on the country you are visiting, or in some cases, countries in which you are arriving from or have visited recently. We suggest you book an appointment with your GP, to discuss any vaccines you may need.
Remember to do this as soon as possible, as you might need to have your vaccines over a period of a few weeks.
You may wish to fundraise to help fund a portion of your trip or even a donation toward your chosen project. GoGetFunding is a popular crowd funding site which offers a simple and professional online fundraising solution.
Simply create a fundraising page to share your story via social media platforms such as Facebook & Twitter. If you use the above link, our logo will be displayed in your profile to help us share our message through your social network community. IVI receives no direct financial benefits. GoGetFunding simply take a small cut of all funds donated. The rest goes to you!
A Certificate of Completion is provided to all volunteers. This is normally emailed to you approximately 1 month after your return home. The completion certificate outlines the program and dates volunteered. If you require a letter of reference, we are more than happy to provide for you upon request.
You will be met at the airport by one of the local team members. They are very friendly and welcoming, and will take you to your accommodation, where you will be allowed to settle in and meet the other volunteers or your host family.
The local coordinator will give you an orientation, explaining things about the local area, such as where the local supermarket is, where you can take cash out, advice on dress codes, using public transport, local customs, and information about your project.
This depends on the program type and time of year. You may be with just a few other people or there might be a larger group of you. If you stay in the volunteer centre, you will likely be surrounded by more volunteers, compared with a homestay.
You are always free to message us to get an idea of how many places have been filled up already on the project.
We offer two types of accommodation, which are homestays or volunteer centres.
In a home stay, you’ll typically have your own room or shared room in a house with up to 4 other volunteers and the host family. You’ll commute out to the project site daily where you’ll meet up with other volunteers participating in the same program. The number of volunteers at each project site is normally between 2-5 maximum (although some projects such as turtle conservation or construction it may be more).
In a volunteer centre, you’ll be sharing a house dorm style with sometimes 20+ other volunteers. You’ll commute out to the project sites daily normally in teams of 2-5. While the volunteer centre is inherently, a more social experience, for the home stay placements, we provide either a central hub for volunteers to connect or a regular BBQ get together. For example, in Fiji the IVI Country Manager hosts a BBQ every fortnight where all volunteers meet to eat drink and enjoy the friendly Fijian hospitality.
The meals on our project can vary quite a lot, based on where you are staying and the country you are in. Generally, you will receive 3 meals a day (on some placements lunch is not included), and they will mostly be local dishes. Westerns dishes like pasta and sandwiches are sometimes on the menu.
You are also welcome to buy your own snacks and food from the local supermarket, or bring with you some of your favourite snacks from home (if you can fit them in!). Don’t worry if you have no room to bring food from home though, our vollies usually have great things to say about the local menu!
Of course! We understand that whilst volunteers want to give back on their volunteer trip, they also want to explore some of the local sights too. Weekends are free for you to have some time off, whether that’s exploring nearby sights or just chilling with a good book! We operate in some incredible countries, and our local teams can advise you on the best companies to book with for any day trips you may want to take part in.
Each country will vary in terms of a specific dress code. Many of our countries more conservative than what you may be used to. It is important that volunteers respect the local norms, and that might mean having to cover up at times.
Each project can vary on what volunteers are advised to wear. Some projects may be more relaxed on what you can wear whilst on the project, but if exploring the local area, particularly if visiting non-touristy places, it may be advised to cover up.
In many places women are advised to cover their shoulders, knees, and stomach, and sometimes their heads when entering temples. For men, covering shoulders and shorts no higher than the knee is recommended.
After booking, you will receive a detailed pre-departure pack on the best dress code for your country and project.