Community Choice Awards 2019: Volunteer Abroad

There's no feeling quite like the one you get when you give back and truly do good to improve the world for someone else. Volunteering abroad is a powerful experience because it allows travelers to go out, experience the world, and hopefully change it for the better in the process.

Companies across the world offer services to help prospective volunteers reach areas with the greatest need; voluntourism is one of the biggest travel trends we've seen in the last decade. Here at Go Overseas, we strive to help prospective volunteers identify those companies who work with the local community, offer services that don't undermine local efforts, and ethically interact with the people or animals they serve.

When a volunteer wants to share their experience here, we ask them to rate the volunteer program on five categories, too: Impact, Support, Fun, Value, and Safety. Based on the scores for all volunteer programs reviewed here on Go Overseas last year, here are the top volunteer abroad providers in 2019.

Learn more about how we scored programs for this year's awards by clicking here.

Overall Top Volunteer Abroad Providers

There are companies everywhere working hard to improve the world for the better. When these companies allow volunteers to join them from abroad on their mission, it's a powerful opportunity to literally change the world. It's also hard for volunteers to know which providers offer the best experience, across all the important areas that affect the volunteer experience. The following providers had top scores across all of the categories we ask reviewers to rate, making them the top volunteer abroad providers from 2019:

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International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Review Highlight:

"I was in Vic Falls through IVHQ for 4 weeks and it was the best 4 weeks of my life, hands down. I don't often write reviews but this experience was just unbelievable." -Nicholas, 31

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GVI

Review Highlight:

"I have so many wonderful things to say about GVI I never know where to start!!" -Melanie, 28

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Angloville

Review Highlight:

"The programme was very well organised, from recruitment, to the city tour and being provided with all relevant information for the lessons." -Lauren

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Top Volunteer Abroad Providers: Impact

Volunteering abroad, unlike other categories on this site, is the one category where it's not only important to understand how the experience changed the reviewer. It's also important to understand if the program achieves its goals and the work volunteers do has a lasting positive impact, so we ask reviewers to rate the impact of their program. The following providers had the top scores in the Impact category:

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GIVE Volunteers

Review Highlight:

"My trip to Nepal with GIVE was immersive and impactful." -Alexis, 23

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Volunteer Programs Bali

Review Highlight:

"I did the program for 8 weeks and had the time of my life here in Bali." -Clara, 18

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Think Pacific

Review Highlight:

"This was genuinely one of the best experiences I’ll ever have!" -Cara, 19

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Top Volunteer Abroad Providers: Support

While volunteering abroad is an opportunity for volunteers to experience freedom and independence they might never have before, it's also critically important that the volunteer abroad program they choose is available for any support they do need. We ask alumni to consider how much support the volunteer abroad program staff provide; the following providers had the top scores in the Support category:

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GIVE Volunteers

Review Highlight:

"My trip to Nepal with GIVE was immersive and impactful." -Alexis, 23

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Think Pacific

Review Highlight:

"This was genuinely one of the best experiences I’ll ever have!" -Cara, 19

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Projects Abroad

Review Highlight:

"I really enjoyed the trip, the people were fantastic and helpful and I felt as though I experienced a lot." -Kate, 17

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Top Volunteer Abroad Providers: Fun

We obviously think that volunteering abroad should be a fun experience -- in fact, we ask every reviewer to tell us how much fun they had overseas, for almost every program they rate on our site. For volunteer abroad programs, we ask alumni to share what they rate the social scene for their volunteer abroad program. The following providers had the top scores in the Fun category:

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Volunteer Programs Bali

Review Highlight:

"I did the program for 8 weeks and had the time of my life here in Bali." -Clara, 18

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Village Book Builders

Review Highlight:

"Village Book Builders is an incredible organization that brings hope and excitement about learning to communities through books." -Anne, 55

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Manna Project International

Review Highlight:

"I worked with Manna as a 13-month Program Director in Nicaragua and it was the best decision I could have made." -Jessica

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Top Volunteer Abroad Providers: Value

Value is a tricky thing to score; everyone has a different idea of what they value and how much something is worth. Generally speaking, our goal in asking volunteers to rate the value of a volunteer program is for them to tell us whether they think the cost of their program was worth the money they paid. The following providers had top scores in the Value category:

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United Hatzalah Colombia

Review Highlight:

"4 weeks working in the ambulances of Hatzalah, the best I could ever have dreamed off!" -Laura, 18

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Village Book Builders

Review Highlight:

"Village Book Builders is an incredible organization that brings hope and excitement about learning to communities through books." -Anne, 55

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BLUE Missions

Review Highlight:

"If you're looking for an exciting way to get out of your comfort zone and give back at the same time, then BLUE Mission's Pico Duarte trek is the trip for YOU! " -Daniela, 20

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Top Volunteer Abroad Providers: Safety

Safety is one of the most important factors we ask reviewers to rate; almost every program on Go Overseas (even those that aren't in the volunteer abroad category) is rated on safety. In particular, we want to know how safe volunteers felt while volunteering and living in the local community. The following providers had the top scores in the Safety category:

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GIVE Volunteers

Review Highlight:

"My trip to Nepal with GIVE was immersive and impactful." -Alexis, 23

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Projects Abroad

Review Highlight:

"I really enjoyed the trip, the people were fantastic and helpful and I felt as through I experienced a lot." -Kate, 17

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The Excellence Center

Review Highlight:

"The Excellence Center is not only a great educational program, it is a great community leader and facilitator of civic relationships." -Chris, 52

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