Global Volunteer Network - FAQ


Got A Question?

You're not the only one! Take a look through these common questions, there's a good chance you'll find the answer...

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox. This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.


Why pay to volunteer?

We are often asked why there are costs involved with volunteering. Initially it may seem surprising but we are here to explain.

Before we get into the details, we want you to know that the Global Volunteer Network is a registered Charitable Trust in New Zealand (Reg # CC46460). This means that we are a non-profit organization and we exist simply to fulfill our mission of connecting volunteers with communities in need.

So why do you have to pay?

Although you may not realize it initially, there are all kinds of costs involved in establishing and maintaining successful volunteer programs. At GVN we believe that a successful volunteer program should bring genuine benefits to both the communities we work with and our volunteers. This is more difficult than it may sound and requires us to carefully select, manage and review the partner organizations we work with.

There are also a number of costs involved with the services we offer our volunteers. GVN is a NGO and does not receive any government funding so we are dependent on the fees paid by our volunteers to pay for the services and resources we provide. These services begin before you volunteer when you'll be assigned a GVN volunteer coordinator to help you prepare for your trip, and continue when you return home when we'll help you to stay connected to your projects through our newsletters and updates. You'll of course also receive a whole range of services while you're volunteering, including airport pick-up, training, accommodation, meals, supervision, and access to our 24hr emergency line.

GVN volunteer programs are based in developing countries within poverty-stricken communities. We partner with local grass-roots organizations who are working hard to make a difference in their community/environment where the majority of people do not have the funds to adequately feed their families, afford health care, or send their children to school. The communities themselves are in need of infrastructure and support and do not have the ability to cover the costs for the much needed assistance a volunteer provides.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that the cost of volunteering varies between different organizations and we encourage you to do your research carefully. Although GVN may not be the very cheapest option available you can be confident that by volunteering with us you will be joining a sustainable and ethical program. We have placed over 16,000 volunteers since 2002, have been verified by Idealist, are a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, and we have been recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.

If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask and we'll be happy to explain in further detail.

Tell me more about the Global Volunteer Network?

The Global Volunteer Network was set up by Colin Salisbury, its founder and director, after spending time volunteering in Ghana, West Africa. While he was there he saw the tremendous difference volunteers can make in helping local organizations achieve their goals. Upon returning to New Zealand he spent some time researching the different volunteer organizations around the world and was amazed at how expensive some programs were and how limiting many were in terms of volunteer options. The Global Volunteer Network was launched in December 2000 with the aim of providing quality placements for volunteers.

The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand. Our Charitable incorporation number is: CC46460.

We are currently offering volunteer placements through our partner organizations in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, USA, and Vietnam. If you are interested in volunteering abroad I suggest that you subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

How can I be sure that the Global Volunteer Network is a legitimate organization?

The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand. Our Charitable incorporation number is: CC46460.

We have been verified by Idealist, which is the largest volunteer portal on the internet. This verification means that Idealist have viewed and approved our certification. We are a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations. Prestigious web sites such as Lonely Planet and have placed web links to us.  Additionally, when you apply, we can provide you with contact information for previous volunteers if you wish. 

Do I have to be from New Zealand?

No, our volunteers come from all over the world.

Which countries do most of your volunteers come from?

The majority of our volunteers come from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. We also have smaller numbers of people from Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, and many other countries from all over the world.

Is there a discount available if I volunteer with someone else?

The 5th person in a group will have their program fee waived.  This is applicable for every 5th person in a group.


Are there discounted fees for groups?

Group fees are available for those going under the supervision of one team leader. Specific details in regards to this can be requested.

What if I need to postpone my placement?

There's no problem if you need to postpone your placement, as long as we receive your request to transfer/postpone in writing two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your placement. This provides GVN volunteers the freedom to participate at a later date or in a different program if your circumstances change.   (See our terms of service)

Are program fees subject to change?

Our partner organizations review their in-country fees twice a year and any resulting fee changes will only apply to volunteers who have not yet confirmed their placement.  Once a placement has been confirmed the quoted program fee is valid for a 12-month period.  Any other fee changes will be advised via a news post announcing the change at least one week before the fee change takes place.

Do you provide any financial support?

Unfortunately GVN is unable to provide financial assistance.  However we provide all our volunteers with a comprehensive fundraising pack (including software), that will provide you with the resources to raise 100% of your costs!

Are the fees and expenses tax deductible?

GVN is a non-profit,  a New Zealand based registered charitable trust – the GVN Charitable Trust (Reg # CC46460). Under New Zealand legislation, fees paid to GVN are not tax deductible in any country (eg. application, program, or trek fees).  Donations made to the GVN Charitable Trust by NZ citizens are tax deductible, and GVN will provide a tax receipt for all such donations.  To receive a tax rebate, donations must be over NZ$5.00.

Do you have any ideas for fundraising for my volunteer experience?

Yes; once your application has been accepted we will send you the link your Program Guide which includes our 20 page Fundraising guide.  To get started you can visit our fundraising page at

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes - travel insurance is compulsory for GVN participants. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you checking to ensure your policy will cover you during your volunteer placement.

For your convenience GVN offers a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering through Accident & Health International Underwriting Pty Ltd (AHI), an Australian based insurer. It includes excellent medical and accident cover as well as a 'loss of deposits' cover which covers all fees paid to GVN, Airlines etc (up to US$8,000). Please refer to the policy for full details of benefits, excess, exclusions etc) just follow this link:

Who organizes my flights?

You do. Once you have confirmed your volunteer placement and are ready to book your flights we will put you in touch with our travel partner who will provide you with access to preferred airfare pricing and personalized service. On top of this we will also give you a resource guide filled with tips and travel advice to help you find the best airfare available to your destination country.

I applied for one of your programs more than 48 hours ago, and I'm yet to hear back. What should I do?

Why volunteer abroad?

The benefits of volunteering extend to you - the volunteer, and to the community and project where you serve.  Personal benefits include development of life skills, personal growth, friendship, increased self confidence, social awareness, and building independence.  An international volunteer experience will also enhance career prospects.

When you volunteer with GVN, you can be assured you are helping a local grassroots organisation.  Volunteer efforts directly benefit local groups, local communities, and local people. We work with our partner organizations to support them in achieving their goals and ensuring that their projects are sustainable and effective.

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Tel: 0800 032 5035 (UK)
Tel: 1800 963 1198 (USA/CAD)
Tel: 1800 203 012 (Australia)
Tel: +64 4 566 1197
Email: [email protected]
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