Frequently asked Questions
Below are the most commonly asked questions we’ve been asked. If you don’t find your question here then please do get in touch!
Why skilled volunteering?
Why should I volunteer my skills?
We believe that skilled volunteering is the best way to donate your time in order to make a difference. As a responsible volunteer organisation, we make sure that we do not compromise the benefits of volunteering to our partner organisation by exclusively focusing on the volunteer experience and the benefits to the volunteer. By emphasising skill sharing, we ensure that both the volunteer and the partner organisation have a mutually-beneficial learning experience. As a result, our placements create long term impact that extends beyond the time volunteers spend overseas.
By carefully selecting and vetting volunteers and partners, we make sure that our placements have the greatest impact possible. It allows us to match skills with organisational needs, and ensure you and the partner get the most out of your time working together.
Learning, skill sharing and cultural immersion is the focus of each and every single Skilled Impact placement. We believe that the biggest difference can be made by exchanging knowledge and ideas. Volunteers can learn from working in a new environment, practice cross cultural communication and develop their knowledge in new and different fields. Organisations gain an outside perspective, new ideas, experience of working cross culturally and the knowledge brought in.
To delve deeper into the topic of skilled volunteering, check out these blog posts:
What skills do I need to volunteer?
The skills and qualifications required vary from placement to placement. For an internship, transferrable skills can often be applied in the role. For these positions we often work with people who are looking to gain more experience in an area or who want to develop their skills. For our elective placement, volunteers are required to either be studying or have graduated from a relevant medical degree. More experience is needed for professional placements. There we require volunteers to hold a relevant degree and to have worked in the field for a minimum of 2 years.
Volunteering also requires a certain outlook. Be ready to leave your comfort zone, try new things, and overcome challenges. As long as you keep an open mind and a “say yes” attitude, you will find volunteering abroad a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
What if I don’t have any skills?
You’re being modest! Sometimes we feel like we don’t have any skills that would bring value to a local organisation in a different country. But usually that’s not the case. If you’re not sure what your skills are, there is three things you can do.
- Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you figure out your skill set and how it might benefit one of our NGO or social enterprise partners.
- Think about your transferable skills. Transferable skills are your abilities and talents that you can apply to many tasks. These often include cross-cultural working, strong work ethic, teamwork, communication etc. Especially when volunteering abroad, transferrable skills are important.
- Check out our internships. These are placements that don’t require specific qualifications, but give you the chance to develop your skills and build new skills on the job.
Applications and Requirements
Who can volunteer?
You might be a professional looking to do something meaningful during your holidays, learn a new skills whilst on a sabbatical, or get your foot in the door of the international development sector whilst changing careers. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to apply your skills in a new setting and may provide you with the inspiration you need.
Or you might be a graduate, looking for your next steps after finishing university. Volunteering is a great way to gain hands on experience in your field of interest, and find out whether your dream career is really what’s right for you. Working abroad and sharing your skills in a different country also requires courage and dedication – qualities that will stand out to future employers.
Finally, you might be a student in your ultimate or penultimate year looking to spend your summer holidays expanding your skill set, making a difference, and working on your CV.
How do I find the right project for me?
Finding the best placement for yourself requires a little bit of self-exploration and reflection. You need to ask yourself questions around the type of volunteering you’d like to do and what skills you can share, how much time and money you can invest, and what it is that you want to achieve. We also have put together a some guidance to help you with your decision.
We’re always here to help. If you want to have an explorative call and find out more about our volunteer placements and which one would be the best option for you, you can contact us at email@example.com.
How do I apply for a placement?
Once you’ve found the right placement for you and are ready to apply, you need to fill in the application form online. Someone from our team will then get in touch and guide you through the next steps.
Can I apply from outside the UK?
Yes, you can. Skilled Impact welcomes applicants from every country.
What are the age restrictions?
Due to the nature of skilled volunteering as well as insurance restrictions, we require volunteers to be at least 18 years old. There is no upper limit to becoming a skilled volunteer, as long as you feel fit enough to travel and live abroad for the period of your volunteer placement.
Do I need a criminal records check?
Skilled Impact has a strict Child Protection Policy. In order to participate on a placements that involved working with children, you are required to provide a criminal records check. We can support you in applying for this in the country where you are located.
Do you help me with my visa?
You will need a visa to enter the country for all our placements. Once you have decided to join us on a skilled volunteer placement, you will receive our detailed Volunteer Guide. This document outlines the steps you need to take to apply for the appropriate visa for your placement and location.
About the Placements
How do you select placements?
We carefully vet each of the local organisations we partner with. As a social business ourselves, we are looking for NGOs and social enterprises that are tackling social, environmental and economic issues in their local communities, therefore working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The vetting process includes several site visits by our experienced programme managers. In the initial stages we work with the partner on assessing their needs, support the job description development process, as well as finalising legal agreements. This way we ensure that our partners are involved in long term projects and provide the right environment for a volunteer to join. All our practices comply with our mission to create responsible and sustainable volunteer placements.
How do I know if I’m a good match for the placement?
Once you make an enquiry, a Skilled Impact team members will get in touch with you to organise a call. The informal interview serves two purposes. By talking to one of our team members, you’ll have the chance to ask all your questions and find out more details about the placement, the role, and partner organisation. During the call we will also ask you about your skills, experiences, and motivations to volunteer.
Skilled Impact has developed a thorough matching process that follows the initial application. Both you and the partner organisation are involved in every step, to ensure we are matching your skills with the organisation’s needs.
When will I know all the details about the placement?
You will be able to ask questions about the placement and partner organisation during an initial call as part of your application process. Once you have applied and been approved for the position, we require a deposit to secure your place. We then put you in touch with the partner organisation so you can start discussions around refining your job description which can then be developed and shaped according to your skills and experience.
Who are the local partners?
In each of our placement locations, we work with socially impactful, inspirational, and results driven change makers and organisations. Hereby we focus mainly on locally run NGOs and social enterprises.
As a responsible volunteer organisation, we ensure that our volunteer placements contribute towards the long term goals that are having a real impact. We therefore make sure that each of our partner organisation is working towards a long term vision and goal in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Will I receive any training?
Before you start your volunteer placement, Skilled Impact and our local partner organisation make sure that you receive all necessary information and training. This might include training on a school’s curriculum for volunteer teachers, or a detailed induction to the business processes of a social enterprise.
Responsible volunteering means that volunteers are properly prepared for the tasks outlined in their job descriptions. As long as you have the required skills and qualifications, we will complement them with local training sessions if required.
When can I go to volunteer?
Our volunteer placements are usually available year-round. You can start placements every Sunday after agreeing on a commencement date with your local partner organisation.
There will be times where certain projects might be not be running. If that’s the case, we will inform you about the availability once you have applied for the placement.
How long can I volunteer for?
The available placement length are determined by our local partners. They decide the minimum and maximum amount of time a placement can be. That’s why you see that some placements start from a period of 2 weeks, whilst other require a minimum of 8 weeks.
When it comes to responsible volunteering, it is the general rule that the longer you can volunteer, the greater the impact you will have.
Where am I staying during the placement?
Your volunteer experience with Skilled Impact includes accommodation in the host country. You will be hosted either in a volunteer apartment, serviced apartment, or homestay. The type of accommodation depends on the availability and time of year.
Please do keep in mind that you will be living in a country where standards might differ to what you are used to from home. But no matter where you stay during your placement, we ensure that your accommodation is safe, clean and comfortable.
Average day of a volunteer
The daily tasks and responsibilities will differ from placement to placement. Generally, you will be working full time hours with your partner organisation at their office or in the field, unless otherwise agreed. You’ll be volunteering and working cross-culturally with local staff Monday-Friday, and then have the weekends off for exploring and cultural immersion.
For personal experiences and stories of our previous volunteers, check back on our blog regularly.
Will I receive a certificate after completing my placement?
Skilled Impact will provide you with a certificate and reference upon request.
Will I have any free time on my placement?
The primary objective of your volunteer placement is skill sharing and cross cultural working. But we also know that travel and cultural immersion are additional benefits of volunteering abroad. As a Skilled Impact volunteer you commit to volunteering and collaborating with the local partner organisation throughout the week, unless otherwise agreed. You can use your weekends to either explore your placement location more, or travel around the the host country.
What support will I receive?
Before you arrive in India, we make sure you are all set for your adventure ahead. We orient you to cultural nuances, share necessary information regarding visas and flights and provide you with the details about your placement and local partner organisation. And, of course, you can ask us any questions and we’ll get back to you within no time.
Once you arrive in India, we make sure you get picked up from the airport and dropped off at your volunteer accommodation. You will receive an induction, health & safety guidelines as well as a SIM card to help you navigate and understand your new environment. We will also facilitate your connection to a reliable and trusted network of local support. Your placement, partner and fellow volunteers have been carefully selected to ensure an enriching experience for everyone.
Skilled Volunteer Placement
Before you start sharing your skills, Skilled Impact and our local partner ensure that you receive a detailed induction and necessary training for your placement. Once you understand the local organisation, you can work with the partner organisation to adjust your job description and project scope.
As a volunteer overseas there are many things to consider to keep yourself safe in a new city . But in case of an emergency, you can always count on us. We have developed robust emergency response and incident management plans to ensure your health and safety.
After completing your placement as a volunteer in India, you have the chance to stay on and see more of india. We can give you travel advice and share our favourite places with you. Once you’ve made your way back home and are looking at your next steps, Skilled Impact is happy to provide your with a certificate and reference if you need one.
Will I be able to contact someone 24/7?
Yes, you will. When we onboard you onto one of our skilled volunteer placements, you’ll receive an in-country phone number that you can call 24/7 in case of emergency.
What happens in case of emergency?
We prioritise your health and safety during your overseas volunteer placement. Based on our extensive experience in volunteer management, Skilled Impact has developed safety best practices to ensure the wellbeing of our volunteers. They include regular risk assessments of the placement location and partner organisations, as well as detailed Incident Management and Emergency Response Plan.
Do I need vaccinations?
We recommend you visit you local travel nurse who can advise you on which vaccinations you will need.
Do I need travel insurance?
It is a requirement that you have travel insurance for all of our placements.
How do you know that Skilled Impact is a responsible volunteer organisation?
Skilled Impact is all about responsible and skilled volunteering. Our staff has been working in the volunteer industry for a cumulative amount of 10+ years. We have seen what works and what doesn’t, and collected much need experience to understand what practices are responsible and sustainable – and which one’s aren’t.
We have developed and adjusted our processes to reflect a responsible approach towards volunteering. We pride ourselves in not falling into the voluntourism trap, and simply selling a fun activity that you can put in a shopping cart and purchase online. From the application process to impact measurement, we want to make sure that our placements create value to both the volunteer and the partner organisation, contributing towards long term, sustainable development.
Find out more about our Mission and Vision.
The following blog posts also reflect our thinking on the issue of responsible volunteering:
Not convinced yet? Here are other useful resources on responsible volunteering:
Why do I have to pay to volunteer?
People often wonder why they have to pay to volunteer. You are giving away your time and expertise for free, right? Why should you have to pay for it?
When you are paying a placement fee, you are not purchasing the opportunity to volunteer. The fee is covering the costs of providing you with safety and support in-country, as well as finding and partnering with sustainable projects.
Our international team takes care of all the logistics in-country that you otherwise would have to organise yourself. For example, if you are going to volunteer alone, you might not be able to judge whether a partner organisation is safe and sustainable. Finding safe, clean and comfortable accommodation for weeks at a time can be difficult if you don’t know the local area. And finding local support in case of emergency or support with other inquiries may be difficult. And that’s exactly what Skilled Impact provides you with.
We keep our costs as low as possible, so that we can make the opportunity for responsible volunteering available to as many people as possible. For a detailed breakdown of where your placement fee goes, visit our ‘Where The Money Goes’ Page.
How much will the placement cost and what is included?
The placement cost varies from placement to placement. It depends on where the placement is, the partner organisation, and the duration. The placement fee covers: in-country operations, placement management and development, volunteer recruitment and management and office costs.
For all placements, the placement fee covers:
- Vetting and matching processes to ensure you find the best skilled volunteer placement for you
- Detailed Volunteer and Location Guide to give you as much information as possible before you embark on your adventure
- Support and information on travel logistics, such as visas and flights
- Airport pickup and transfer
- Placement supervisor
- In-country support team member
- 24/7 emergency number
- Incident management and emergency response plans
- Reference and certificate on request
How does Skilled Impact use my fees?
There are five major expenses that Skill Impact faces:
- In-country operations (41%)
- Placement Management and Development (35%)
- Volunteer Recruitment and Management (18%)
- Office Costs (7%)
- Insurance and Legal (3%)
Do local partners receive donations?
Skilled Impact does not give donations to local partners. We believe in sending skilled volunteers to placements instead of aid. Many other volunteer organisations make a donation with each placement fee. But through our experience we know first hand of many local partners who have become reliant on volunteers as a source of income. When this happens, volunteer positions may run on far beyond when they are still relevant and necessary. We believe in building capabilities, rather than creating dependency.
It is not mandatory, but many of our partners decide to make a contribution towards the placement fee, food or accommodation in order to reduce the overall costs for the volunteer. This reduction is reflected in the placement fee. We believe that this is a sustainable way of working with our partners and ensure that the need for a skilled volunteer comes above any financial transaction.
If you would like to make a donation after your volunteer placement is completed, you can discuss this directly with your placement supervisor.
When do I have to pay my deposit and the final amount?
The £250 deposit is due once you have decided to sign up for a placement. The deposit is then taken off the total placement fee. This is usually done after the application form has been filled out and we have had our initial call with you. The balance is required 6 weeks before your placement starts. If you are booking within 6 weeks of your placement start date, then the full placement fee is required.
What payment methods do you accept?
We accept bank transfers and paypal payments.
Are the deposit and final payment refundable?
All deposits are non-refundable unless we are not able to match you to your chosen placement.