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    The best way to volunteer while staying home: contribute to charity work abroad

    Article by Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo

    Posted: February 8, 2021

    The pictures in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

    Feeling inspired to contribute to the for-good sector, but unsure what’s the best way to volunteer and remain distanced at the same time? Let’s find more about charity work abroad and how you can make a sustainable impact from home.

    You might’ve guessed it – one of the most powerful ways you can get involved is through donations, donations, donations! But, there’s a lot more to donations than just giving your money away.

    Donating to charity work abroad

    First things first. You have to choose the right organisation to donate to. But, what makes an organisation a good fit for your donation? Well, start by thinking about the type of charity work abroad that you want to contribute to.

    Do you want to contribute to charity work abroad that helps animals and the environment? Maybe you want to contribute to people-focused work, like women’s empowerment projects



    Even better – you might be interested in charity work abroad that contributes to both these areas.

    Once you’ve found the type of charity work abroad that you’re passionate about, you’ll want to make sure that your contribution will make a long-term impact. That means contributing to charity work abroad with an organisation that focuses on making an impact sustainably. 

    Further reading: How to volunteer for charity work and make a sustainable impact

    You’ll also want to understand the benefits of the charity work abroad that you’re contributing to, to make sure that it’s the type of work you want to support.

    Charity work abroad that makes a long-term, sustainable impact

    So, how do you know if your donation will make a sustainable impact? When you choose which type of charity work abroad you want to donate to, make sure you choose an organisation that requires sustainability plans.



    This plan should include the following:

    • Strategy – a collaborative plan of action to achieve clear economic, environmental and social goals set out by community members and stakeholders
    • Method – details of the organisation’s operations, which should be guided by a code of ethics, empowerment principles and include a responsible exit plan
    • Exit goal – a clear plan that defines when support will be withdrawn and how (will the project end at a set time, after certain goals have been met or when local stakeholders have become self-sustaining; will it be phased down slowly or handed over to the local community or a partner organisation)
    • Timeline – projects that use a data-driven approach, with staging posts, measurable goals, and a planned timeline to achieve the projects’ goals by.

    And, to make sure that you know where your money goes to, you should choose an organisation that’s transparent about their operations.

    Where your donation to charity work abroad goes to

    We mentioned transparency, but what does that mean? Transparency means that an organisation is open about their operations and its costs. Having transparency is also one way an organisation sticks to best practices in the industry.

    Your donation will add to the financial sustainability of the organisation. Financial sustainability is another form of best practice in the charitable sector. Best practice in the sector is to ensure that at least 85% of donations are channelled directly to outcome-based project work and no more than 15% is used to cover central operating costs. 

    How does your donation support charity work abroad?


    GVI Charitable Programs is a non-profit organisation and partner of GVI. Its role as a charitable partner on GVI’s sustainable development projects is to help raise and manage funds to support our on-the-ground volunteer and internship programs. 

    Let’s find out more about their fundraising efforts, and how they contribute to GVI’s programs on the ground.

    1) Tackle rhino and wildlife poaching in South Africa

    GVI Charitable Programs works with us and other partner organisations, such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust, in anti-poaching efforts. In 2019 alone, 594 rhinos were poached, and the species remains vulnerable.

    COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 led to the closure of 40% of lodges on nature reserves in the Limpopo region. This means less tourism and in turn, less money to fund conservation in South Africa, which makes South African rhinos more vulnerable to poachers.



    So, how does GVI Charitable Programs support us with your donations? 

    Donations towards this project help us to maintain a presence on the reserve to deter poaching activities, to detect signs of poaching, and to assess weaknesses in our anti-poaching strategies. Some signs of poaching include snares – traps for capturing animals – or our most recent finding of 13 holes that were cut into the fence that protects the reserve. 

    Your donation allows us to continue monitoring the animals and to support our collaborative local stakeholders with fundraising strategies to maintain a 24 hour anti-poaching unit at the Karongwe Private Game Reserve. 

    We also conduct surveys of rhinos and other megafauna in the reserve, using camera traps to monitor the movement and behaviour of the animals. This information helps our team to know which areas in the reserve to focus their efforts on.

    We want our efforts to make a sustainable impact, which is why our projects are collaborative and our work is not purely focused on immediate impact, but also on the empowerment of our local stakeholders. 

    For long-term impact and sustainability, we conduct environmental education lessons and skills development workshops with local community members. These workshops provide guidance to local people on how to make use of their natural resources to generate an income and promote sustainability. 

    These workshops also raise awareness about issues facing conservation and how the work we do protects the animals in the region. Our workshops include classes on environmental education, youth development, community environment, and presentations for high school students, as well as individualised skills development training. 

    We also assist stakeholders on our projects to develop their own anti-poaching funding strategies to avoid dependency on GVI. 

    Your donation will support these anti-poaching efforts, by helping us to carry on the work we do. This includes vehicle maintenance, fuel expenses, fence repairs, training participants, purchasing and maintaining equipment for surveys, and running educational workshops.


    2) Research to support turtles and jaguars in Jalova

    In Jalova, we work to support the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy with conservation efforts in Tortuguero National Park. 

    2020 gave rise to many challenges, including a significant decrease in tourism, which is a major source of income in this region. Data collection activities were also disrupted and the numbers of cases of poaching have risen.

    Here, we work alongside the Sea Turtle Conservancy to help protect green, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles during nesting season. 

    We conduct data collection for conservation research and patrol beaches to make sure nests are protected and to collect data on mother turtles during birth. 

    In 2019, we counted 18,111 turtle tracks on the beach, assisted 5,403 hatchlings with safe passage to the ocean and marked 109 nests.



    The beach in Tortuguero National Park has also welcomed increasing numbers of jaguars. The rise in the jaguar population in the park was brought on when plantations were cultivated in other parts of their natural habitat. This caused the jaguars to move closer to the coast where the turtles are. 

    The jaguars’ target prey species also decreased because of poaching in the area. This, in addition to their proximity to the nesting turtles, led to the jaguars preying on the turtles that nest there.

    Further reading: Jaguars hunting green sea turtles: the story of two endangered species

    In order to protect both species in the region, which are both endangered, we need to understand the relationship between jaguars and turtles. We’ve teamed up with Panthera and Coastal Jaguar Conservation to conduct research on jaguar behaviour and movements, using camera traps. 

    Through our research and monitoring, we’ve also been able to collect information on other wild cats, including rare cat species like ocelots and pumas, making a broader contribution to big cat research. 

    Your support on this project through GVI Charitable Programs will help us to continue valuable research on species in the region by maintaining and up-keeping the equipment we use to collect data.

    3) Improve school facilities in Nepal 

    Quality education is the fourth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) and that’s why we want to make a contribution towards achieving it. An important part of improving education and the experience of learners, is to have facilities in place to give learners a safe, workable environment. 

    That’s why our project supports local schools in Nepal by refurbishing classrooms, building furniture like desks and chairs, and improving bathroom facilities.

    One of the best parts about contributing to this project through GVI Charitable Programs, is that your donation supports more than just the schools GVI works with. It also supports the local businesses that we purchase the materials from for refurbishments. 



    Volunteers, interns and other participants perform less skilled construction tasks on GVI programs. This is an important part of GVI’s stance on construction work and our commitment to health and safety on our programs. 

    We also employ local professionals or organisations to complete construction work that requires more specialised skills or experience. So, your donation supports the educational environment of learners, the income of local businesses, and promotes work opportunities for local community members.

    4) Promote healthy starts in Phang Nga

    If we weren’t already concerned about global public health, the year 2020 made it all the more apparent why we should all make efforts towards reaching UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being.

    Our project supports this goal by promoting global public health education for school-aged children and local communities. The aim is to raise awareness about the importance of leading healthy lifestyles and practising good hygiene. 

    Our project is guided by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recognised Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program, which provides practical learning methods and health education to support school children and local community members. 

    One way we do this is by running health workshops that teach children and older community members important daily practices, like brushing their teeth. 



    Our staff and volunteers lead demonstrations on a model of teeth and let students practise themselves. The students then get a chart to take home with them and to fill in their daily toothbrushing routines. 

    We also send students home with a letter to their parents, explaining what they’ve learnt at the workshop, so that parents can continue to encourage these health practices. Your donation to GVI Charitable Programs will help GVI provide these educational workshops and the resources used to teach people about health and well-being. 

    Find out more about all the GVI projects supported by GVI Charitable Programs and make your sustainable impact with charity work abroad now.

    By Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.