Open Forum – a place for everyone in the International Volunteering world to come together.
When you think about it, for a sector that is so international by nature, it’s kind of amazing that there hasn’t been a place where everybody involved in the humanitarian and development volunteering sector can go to meet and discuss things that are important to that world.
At least, that’s what we thought.
We thought it would be great to have an online community that is free for everyone to join and to start discussions about humanitarian work and volunteering; a place where prospective volunteers could go to ask questions about how to become a volunteer; what locally identified needs exist in a particular country; to share experiences, knowledge and find opportunities to engage. A place where all stakeholders could discuss best practice, access training courses and potentially find new partners for projects around the world. A place where local organisations could engage with volunteer sending agencies and volunteers and tell the world about themselves.
Why is an Open Forum for International Volunteering necessary?
It was only when we went and looked for something similar that we realised that it doesn’t exist. There are some networks of organisations involved in the volunteering space. However, they are mostly networks of sending agencies, are small in scope and often you have to pay to become a member. There has been nothing that attempts to bring everybody in this space together to share, well, everything!
When one enters the humanitarian action or volunteering world, one quickly realises that there really is a lot of complexity to it. There are many different types of organisations – sending agencies, local partner hosting agencies, funding agencies – and their inter-relationships are often complex. And there is an awful lot to learn if you are running any of these agencies, or are a volunteer looking to work abroad or a student in development education trying to connect with local practitioners on the ground.
Open Forum is unique in that there is no other free to join global forum geared towards the needs of volunteers, humanitarian agencies, students of development studies and organisations seeking volunteers. Members can be individuals or organisations. Members can post new discussions, respond to discussions, link to events, showcase their work, introduce themselves to others in the community, download useful assets such as eBooks, view exhibitions of work, share best practice, form new partnerships and more. There are different categories for volunteers, hosting and sending organisations to discuss issues most relevant to them and also a more general category for stuff that impacts the whole sector. It is also a space for students to connect and engage for research.
It is a particularly good time to launch an initiative like this because the sector have changed due to Covid-19. However, on Open Forum, members can still communicate, exchange and connect. For instance, there have been over 3,000 downloads of Volunteering for Humanity’s series of eBooks on best practice in humanitarian and sustainable development project management. This is a good time for organisations in this space to ensure they are adhering to the latest and most effective methodologies.
Great success since soft launch in April
Response to the Open Forum so far has been very encouraging, with over 200 users registering from all around the world, including Asia, the Middle East and Africa since its soft launch in April.
Adrian O’Farrell, Communications Manager of Volunteering for Humanity, said
‘We are tremendously excited at the possibilities for Open Forum, as we have found that people involved in the international volunteering arena around the world are responding very enthusiastically. There is so much knowledge that some of our members have to impart, while there is also so much thirst for knowledge that some of our other members have. And the Open Forum is a very effective place to bring people together to learn and meet.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up?
You can find Volunteering for Humanity’s Open Forum at
The development of the Open Forum has been funded by EU Aid Volunteers (project number 604950). For more information on volunteering for humanitarian aid project work, check out #EUAVI
About Volunteering for Humanity
Volunteering for Humanity is a consortium of four European-based volunteer sending organisations that have come together as part of an EU-funded technical assistance programme. This programme is designed to strengthen the capacity of the member organisations to deploy volunteers under the EU Aid Volunteers programme #EUAVI. Volunteering for Humanity consists of Adice (France), Keric (Slovakia), NGDO Platform (Lithuania) and VC (Ireland).
Adrian O’Farrell, Communications Manager
Volunteering for Humanity
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