Global Volunteer Network (GVN)


Our vision is to connect people with communities in need. We do this by supporting the work of local community organisations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.

At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organizations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we provide volunteers to help them achieve their goals.

The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Why do we do it?
"We believe in inspiring learning, innovation, and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world."

GVN places volunteers in Asia, South America, and Africa and has fundraising treks to Everest Base Camp, Mt Kilimanjaro, and Machu Picchu; along with specialist tours such as the Youth Tour for 15-17 year olds, and our Young At Heart Tour.

GVN profile

Programs from GVN

  • Multiple Countries
    This week long Be The Change Course is designed to take your idea or dream and give you the skills and confidence you need...
    16 reviews
  • kids in Nepal
    Placements currently on hold due to Earthquake see our website to help with Rebuild and Recovery Projects. Nepal Children's...
    9 reviews
  • Volunteer in the Philippines with children
    You have the opportunity to work in a variety of projects teaching, childcare, mentoring and community projects to assist...
    7 reviews
  • Volunteer teach in Vietnam with GVN
    Are you crazy about kids? Do you want to support them in building a brighter future? The Global Volunteer Network currently...
    6 reviews
  • Peru 2012
    This is a unique opportunity for a small team of volunteers to see how funds are distributed from our Eat So They Can...
    5 reviews
  • Peru Jungle conservation
    GVN has opportunities to work on a range of projects in Peru such as childcare, teaching, construction, healthcare and...
    4 reviews
  • Volunteers with local children in Uganda
    The Global Volunteer Network currently has opportunities aimed at providing primary and secondary education to needy...
    4 reviews
  • Everest Base Camp
    Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Our Everest Base Camp trek is a unique opportunity to challenge yourself,...
    4 reviews
  • GVN Childcare and Orphanages Program in Guatemala
    Costa Rica
    Are you driven to help the world's most vulnerable citizens? Do you love kids and want to help them thrive? There are many...
    4 reviews
  • Multiple Countries
    The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand....
    3 reviews
  • Wildlife in Ecuador
    You have the opportunity to participate in different projects which have their location at four different biological...
    3 reviews
  • Kenya
    Take on a "bucket list" physical challenge while supporting a community in need with GVN's Mount Kilimanjaro Fundraising...
    3 reviews
  • Volunteering with children in Rwanda with GVN
    Volunteers will assist our partner organisation's mission to facilitate processes to help eradicate poverty, reduce HIV...
    2 reviews
  • Volunteer teacher in Ghana
    You have the opportunity to assist underprivileged communities in Ghana through Global Volunteer Network and our local...
    2 reviews
  • Multiple Countries
    Volunteering in the medical field is your chance to make a huge difference in people's lives. GVN offers medical related...
    2 reviews

Program Reviews

  • Olessia
    Age: 31-50
    Find another

    On their website GVN claims that the overwhelming number of negative reviews they get come from those who never participated in their programs or were done by competing volunteer organizations. Well, I am a regular person, a registered nurse, I might add, who has extensively travelled and participated in other volunteer projects in the developing countries. I HAVE volunteered in a medical program offered by GVN and managed by Maximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru in August 2015. And by far, it was the worst volunteer experience I've ever had, it lacked structure, involvement and supervision by GVN. The concerns reported by me and other volunteers were not addressed, GVN and Maximo Nivel took little to no responsibility for their failure to deliver what they signed people up for. The total cost of the program was $765 for a week. There are much cheaper volunteer programs out there... hell, there are free ones out there! During the orientation, they offered free t-shirts for positive reviews and "likes" on Facebook. If your level of integrity was what you say it is, you would not have to ask for praise, your Goodness would be undeniable. I wish I had known better, but I guess it was a learning experience. So my suggestion is read, do research before you sign up with these guys. Make an informed decision. And good luck impacting lives <3 Olessia :) #dontmakemeshowyoumystethoscope

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  • Jann
    Age: 51 or older
    Crossville, Tennessee
    Do NOT use Global Volunteer Network

    I assistant taught for 4 weeks at a middle school in Soweto, South Africa. Global Volunteer Network (GVN) arranged for the housing for me while I volunteered. ZOTE was the local organization that oversaw my stay. My money was stolen from my bedroom. GVN has not stopped placing volunteers in that house or stopped using ZOTE as I suggested. If you volunteer with GVN and ZOTE, lock your bedroom door.

    Response on June 9, 2015:

    Miriam (GVN),

    You're right, I talked to Colin, GVN Founder. He reinforced what you mentioned, that the house I stayed has not been used since I left, and there are no plans to use it. He also said he would be visiting South Africa in August and ZOTE would be evaluated after that.

    Colin and I agree that volunteering in South Africa is a great idea. The school I volunteered at welcomed me warmly and appreciated my help. The people in my community, Soweto, were wonderful. Many of them helped me in various ways. The children were especially interested in talking to me and learning who I am. As a bonus, the country is beautiful as I found out in 2 weeks of sightseeing. The scenery, and more importantly, the people were wonderful.

    I recommend everyone consider volunteering in South Africa.

    All the best,


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    Response from GVN
    Hi Jann, We're always sad to hear when something negative happens to affect a volunteer's placement with us. I understand you will be speaking with Colin (Founder) over the phone. Just to let you know, we haven't placed any further volunteers with this family since your stay. Thanks, Miriam (GVN)
  • Edward
    Age: 51 or older
    Real Connection

    As the typical NGOs pass by in their tinted windowed white SUVs you feel more connected to the communities since your modes of transport are jeepneys and trykes. The Nutritional day starts with shopping at the open air wet markets and veggie stands. You make a connection with your favorite vendors who are aware of the valuable work you are doing. The tryke drivers know you and transport you in their often overflowing trykes down the dirt roads to the village. Awaiting you are children who are the most well adjusted, smart and creative kids you will ever meet. You will be amazed at how the sense of community exists as you observeve 5year olds caring for their younger siblings. The richness and depth of community will awaken your passion for the day's work. Live your life like you mean it!

    How could this program be improved?

    I would only suggest that options for housing be offered

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  • Ruth
    Age: 19-24
    Brazil Teaching Program

    I volunteered on the GVN Brazil Program this September and it was by far the most rewarding, eye opening and heartwarming experience I've ever had. GVN supported me before, during and after my trip and is always there to answer any questions you may have.

    During my stay in Rocinha, I was working and living with wonderful volunteers from all over the world in a shared apartment. I did the Teaching Program, so I got to teach smart and enthusiastic kids every afternoon, as well as equally amazing adults some days of the week. At night we got to do some locals classes which was a lot of fun as well, I've never met more welcoming and friendly people than the ones in Rocinha!

    The children running up to you yelling "Teacher!", grabbing your hands and hugging you, will put a smile on your face every single day. The lessons are great because the kids are genuinely happy to be there and eager to learn, especially when you put in the effort to make everything interesting for them (singing songs, playing games, reading stories, letting them act things out and draw, asking people to come up front to point things out etc.).

    Arriving in a favela by yourself is daunting of course, especially when you don't speak Portuguese. All I can say is that it's SO worth it to jump in head first and go for it, you will not regret it. Sure, it won't always be easy but that just makes you a stronger, more independent person. The people you meet, the experiences you have, the things you visit in Rio will stay with you forever. My main advice: come with an open mind and stay as long as you can!! I was only there for a couple of weeks and I so wish I could've stayed longer.

    Thanks to GVN and the local Brazil Program, I can't wait to come back some day!!

    How could this program be improved?

    It is not always very organised, though this is very understandable as the program is located in a Brazilian favela. Come with an open mind and don't expect too much, just take in the favela life and rhythm :).

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  • JoAnne
    Age: 51 or older
    Ammon, Idaho
    Brigham Young University
    GVN's Be the Change in Taupo

    I attended Be the Change in Taupo, New Zealand in November, 2013. It was my first venture into the volunteer abroad arena and was an ideal venue for me to get information and interract with experienced volunteers. The week was life-changing for me.
    GVN staff picked me up at my hotel as arranged through e-mail. There were 9 of us there as participants and 6 GVN staff. We lived as family in 2 houses with both staff and participants intermixed, which was a bonding experience. We shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities. I loved this format, finding that volunteers are an adaptable and thoroughly interesting group to live with for a week. We were a diverse group, ranging in age from 20 to 67, of varying ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. At the end of the week, I considered them all friends.
    The purpose of this workshop was to both inform and motivate volunteers to pursue our own charitable projects at either a local or international level, or to feel confident in participating in existing projects. I came away both informed and motivated. I was most impressed with GVN staff's enthusiasm and dedication to their work.
    Having previously attended both business and horse training workshops, I had a vlue comparison. Be the Chage delivered what I considered to be a good product for the price.
    I have no criticism for the Be the Change program. When I fail to find anything to criticize, I tend to be generous with my ratings. I will be going to Uganda in June as a follow-on to investigate how GVN distributes money they raise through participating in the global Eat So They Can fundraising campaign.

    How could this program be improved?

    I do not have the expertise to suggest changes to this program. I consider it a unique training and idea exchange venue.

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