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International Volunteer HQ founder and CEO Dan Radcliffe started his volunteer programme as a result of his own experience. The Taranaki-based entrepreneur began IVHQ in 2007, with the aim of making volunteering sustainable, affordable and beneficial to both the volunteer and those benefiting from it. This month, Dan spoke to Kea about how International Volunteer HQ was created, and his experiences of working in philanthropy.


IVHQ in action

Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you got to be where you are today?
I finished university in 2006 and decided to volunteer abroad for 3 months in Kenya. I loved the experience but was disappointed with how the trips were run by international NGOs. Very expensive, poorly managed and many volunteers leaving feeling as though they were making little impact but paying a fortune for the privilege. IVHQ was dreamed up as a result of this trip and a desire to reshape the volunteer travel industry through affordable volunteer fees and real impactful work.

What does International Volunteer HQ do? What drives you to focus on this particular cause?

We place international volunteers abroad with local NGOs throughout the world. It is our job to recruit the volunteers, prepare them for their trips and connect them with legitimate local NGOs who they volunteer with on various projects. What makes us different from other organisations, is our affordable, transparent fees, legitimate volunteer programs and high level volunteer support that we provide.We now place over 18,000 volunteers annually into more than 50 countries where they work on hundreds of different projects.

What are the challenges of working in the philanthropy sector?

IVHQ is a social enterprise - we're a business that does good. Getting people comfortable that businesses can have a social focus and make money has been a challenge but Kiwis are slowly getting there. Although we work with a lot of international NGOs, ironically we work with very few NPOs and charities - as a general rule we find many of these are poorly and inefficiently run and as a result we prefer to work with companies that are financial incentivised to provide their services.  

Where do you believe the future of philanthropy is heading?

Social enterprises are the way of the future. Companies that are financially incentivised to make the world a better place will shape world over the next century. 

It has been reported that New Zealanders have the third highest rate of 'giving' in the world. Do you believe Kiwis have a natural draw to philanthropy?

Interestingly, less than 1% of people who volunteer on our programs come from New Zealand with the large majority of our volunteers coming from the USA and Canada. I think Kiwis still have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves as world leaders in philanthropy.  

How can Kiwis help?

Volunteering abroad is a great way to travel, learn more about a culture, but most importantly give back - www.volunteerhq.org 


Are you a Kiwi building a business overseas? Kea can help. We can provide personalised introductions to industry leaders for insights and advice. For more information, check out our Kea Connect service here.

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Part 12