For the third year in a row, African Impact has been named the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by the leading resource for meaningful travel, GoAbroad.com. In the ultimate list of who’s-who in international travel, African Impact topped the charts, with over 2500 independent reviews from participants who have joined one of nearly 70 different volunteer programs or internships in Africa.
What makes African Impact the best volunteer abroad organization according to GoAbroad?
After completing a placement with African Impact, volunteers are invited to provide feedback about their program, which is then posted live on GoAbroad. Across seven different factors that are essential to a great volunteer project, participants are able to rate African Impact between one and ten. But what are those seven factors and how does African Impact keep raking in the tens? It’s easy, let us explain it for you.
It might sound vague, but it’s what we rate the highest on and what makes us the best volunteer abroad organization going into 2019. For us, overall experience combines three main factors (that also happen to be our tagline); experience, impact and transformation. They are all equally important, but also interlink. A great experience will mean tangible impact, which provides a huge transformation for everyone involved.
Part 1: Experience
We believe in the spirit of Africa and that a volunteer’s experience is just as important as their impact. Volunteering is a two-way thing. It’s not just about the help and skills that volunteers bring; it’s also about what this amazing continent, its people and its wildlife can give those volunteers in return. An experience filled with adventure, learning, and breathtaking moments will make volunteers go home and share the magic of Africa. It will keep them coming back again and again. Ultimately, we combine extraordinary experiences…
Part 2: Impact
…with genuine impacts. We know Africa, we live and breathe it every day. We know our communities, our families, our tribes and our staff. We have built every project hand-in-hand with them, meaning it is led and directed by them. We measure every single thing we do, so if a volunteer is looking for a part-time, sit-around in the sunshine kind of deal, we’re not for them. Our team of international and local staff live and work with our volunteers and will help them contribute to our long-term goals. This lets us go beyond what the world thinks of as ‘volunteering abroad’…
Part 3: Transformation
…and provides an experience that truly transforms communities and volunteers. Forget the savior complex; it’s out of the door by the time we’re through with our volunteers. We know they go home richer and worldlier. They are better friends, better neighbors and better people. Volunteering in Africa helps to change perceptions and stereotypes about Africa, its people and its problems, while it provides local communities with an exchange of culture, mindsets and ideas. Win-Win.
Volunteer Placement. A.K.A: Impact and Sustainability
Impact is at the heart of what we do. And not only because it’s in our name. Founded in Zimbabwe, we know first-hand the struggles that many communities experience on the African continent, and have also seen the damage left behind by unsustainable, irresponsible organizations in the past. This is why we make sustainability a priority and stress the importance of our charity arm, the African Impact Foundation. Together we work to ensure our presence on the ground is in the best interest of the local communities we work with. We set long-term objectives with our local partners, measure everything we do, and undertake valuable monitoring and evaluation of our projects, meaning anyone joining us will positively contribute to a long-term impact. Head over to our awards page to see what we’ve won for sustainability, innovation and responsibility.
Program Administration. A.K.A: Pre-Departure Advice, Orientation, and Coordination
A lot of people hate admin, but we are all about the admin. We have an entire team at our head office in Cape Town devoted solely to program administration, ensuring you receive only the best pre-departure support. That means up-to-date project resources, travel tips and advice, and being on-hand 365 days a year to answer every single question you have about volunteering in Africa. Give us a call to say hello. When you arrive at our project, you’ll meet the specific staff we hire to make sure your volunteer experience goes perfectly (we call them Volunteer Coordinators). Behind the scenes, the Project Managers and Business Managers are constantly ‘adminning’ away, perfecting our orientation and induction material, aims and achievements reports, agreements with our community partners, distributing donations, renewing vehicle and house insurances, and so much more. Running the best volunteer projects in the world isn’t an easy feat.
Living Situation. A.K.A: Amenities, Support, Comfort and Housing Options
When it comes to housing options, there’s only one option per project… Our volunteer accommodation. In total, we have 9 different bases around Southern and East Africa, so that’s 9 different volunteer houses where participants from around the world live and work. We really pride ourselves on the ‘home-away-from-home’ spaces that we’ve built and grown for our volunteers; they are privately-run by African Impact, staffed with chefs from the local community, and provide a safe, welcoming and lively place to live while you’re volunteering in Africa. Did we mention that our team of international volunteer coordinators live with you too? They are always on hand to answer any questions you have, but to also make sure that you are making the most of your time abroad – whether that be planning an entire weekend’s worth of adventure activities, or showing you hidden treasures and secret spots that take you beyond a regular tourist trip.
Community Engagement. A.K.A: Engagement with Locals and Cultural Immersion
As an African organization who actually work, and are based, on the African continent, it’s no surprise that we receive top ratings for community engagement. We’re the best. Aside from volunteering alongside local staff members, every African Impact volunteer project focuses on engagement with the community – yes, even conservation projects in Africa. A top volunteer organization should ensure that you are fully immersed in the local community throughout your stay, and should have strong long-standing relationships with the community’s members. This is something African Impact are the best at as we only run a project if the community not only wants us there, but actually has ownership of the project. Community buy-in is essential and we work hand in hand with local tribal chiefs, community leaders, government departments, clinics and schools to ensure that the best possible impact is being made. We constantly monitor and review this, working towards mutually agreed commitments that help drive our impact forward.
Health and Safety. A.K.A: Security and Accessibility of Health Care
A good volunteer organization should put your health and safety at the top of its priority list, as it’s not uncommon to volunteer in third world countries, where poverty can often lead to high crime statistics. At African Impact, we do just this. Every single volunteer who joins us will be supported 24-hours throughout their placement by our team of live-in staff, as well as our wider network who are available 24/7. The staff team that live and work alongside you consist of a mixture of international and local people, all who are trained in case of an emergency and are very familiar with overseeing large numbers of volunteers – we do this all year round. Because African Impact staff are – literally speaking – with you every day, you are always in safe hands while volunteering in Africa.
Day to Day Life. A.K.A: Social Activities, Excursions, and Daily Routines
Despite everything, what really matters to volunteers – and what makes the best volunteer project – is an amazing day to day experience. We really care about that, as for most people this could be their only holiday of the year. While African Impact projects certainly require a volunteer that has plenty of energy and drive to volunteer full-time Monday to Friday, it’s also very important that a top volunteer organization ensures you get to explore and experience everything your host country has to offer. African Impact do this by helping you book excursions for your free time, hosting social events, and even checking in with you throughout your stay to make sure you’re having the best time. Like we said earlier, volunteering abroad is a two-way street and it’s ok that your experience is just as important as your impact.
The team at African Impact want to say a huge thank you to every volunteer and intern that joined us in 2018 and helped make us the Top Rated Volunteer Abroad Organization for the third year in a row. Here’s to an amazing 2019!