GVI wins ‘best volunteering organisation’

This year’s top award for a gap year volunteering organisation has gone to Global Vision International (GVI) of the UK.

The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for best volunteering organisation went to GVI as a result, said the judges, of the scale of their impact on the ground.

GVI sends over 3,000 people to 60 countries each year. Volunteers can work on environmental, research, conservation, education and community projects. According to the company, around 70% of all volunteer contributions are spent directly in the field.

Judges singled out the success of GVI-taught students as evidence of the beneficial impact of their programmes.

Operations Director, Andy Woods-Ballard, said: “We are thrilled. It proves that larger organisations can do good grass roots work in many different countries. Seeing many formerly illiterate and/or innumerate children in Guatemala hitting 80-100 % in national exams when the Guatemalan average is 45% is pretty special.”

The secret of their success, according to Mr Woods-Ballard, is keeping it personal. “Every volunteer develops a relationship with their coordinator early on in the process and this will typically be someone who knows the programme involved intimately and may even be an ex-volunteer or staff member. This ensures expectations are set correctly and the volunteers are well prepared to get into the field.”

The runner-up for ‘best volunteering organisation’ went to Tiny Island Volunteers in the Maldives.

Since 2004 the Responsible Travel Awards have celebrated change and innovation in the tourism industry by recognising tourism ventures, individuals and destinations from all over the world with inspiring approaches to responsible tourism.

Have you ever volunteered with GVI? What are some of your best volunteering experiences?

For those of you thinking of volunteering on a gap year then read our guide to choosing a volunteering placement.