A guest post from Billy Beltz, Co-Founder, Volunteer Forever
What is Volunteer Forever?
Volunteer Forever is a new web platform that makes it easier for people to find and
fund their volunteer abroad trips. The website combines program reviews (based
on a patent-pending review verification system) with a crowdfunding platform to
help volunteers find the right project and then fundraise for their trip. The company
launched their website in mid-September.
Why Did We Create Volunteer Forever?
Our goal in creating Volunteer Forever was to reduce the information and financial
barriers that prohibit more people from volunteering abroad. As volunteers ourselves,
we’d experienced both of those obstacles firsthand and knew we weren’t alone.
What do I mean by information and financial barriers? I experienced the latter during
my first volunteer trip to a small village in rural Greece. Like most volunteers, I had the
skills, time and willingness to make a positive impact but not necessarily the funds to
pay for the entire trip. In my case I was able to raise enough funds to make it a reality,
but the fundraising process seemed unnecessarily inefficient. There was a community
of people that wanted to offer their support but no effective way to convey my story
and easily collect donations from my network. With Volunteer Forever we’ve created a
fundraising platform that allows volunteers to simplify and personalize the fundraising
process. Volunteers can create custom pages with integrated blogging and social media
tools that instantly tap into the power of their extended networks, making it easy to
receive donations from family, friends and community members.
Volunteer Forever’s Founder and CEO, Steven Weddle, witnessed the information
barrier firsthand after participating in a volunteer trip to India. He returned from his
volunteer project with several concerns about the experience and how the project
was being run. Steve wrote an honest review of the organization on a review site, only
to find it deleted the next day. He later found out he wasn’t the only one concerned
about a lack of trust among user reviews and the information available to prospective
volunteers. One of the driving forces behind creating Volunteer Forever is to combat
this problem and help provide the most accurate information possible to prospective
volunteers. Because Volunteer Forever includes a fundraising component, the usage
cycle for users on our site very unique. A volunteer can create a crowdfunding campaign
(linked to PayPal) and raise donations from their family & friends through social
networking, and then blog about their experiences pre and post-departure. This gives
us the opportunity to collect verifiable information about a volunteer’s experiences and
help determine the credibility of a review.
At Volunteer Forever we’ve attempted to use the power of crowd-sourced information
and personal networks to make volunteering abroad more accessible to everyone. Our
hope is to not only help people effect positive change in communities around the world
that need it most, but in the end create a more globally-engaged, aware, and concerned