Volunteering Abroad for Company Groups
UBELONG is a pioneer in offering impact-driven international volunteer trips for companies. Serving with UBELONG is an ideal way for companies to empower their employees to come together, make an impact, and build critical cross-cultural skills.
“It was an excellent opportunity to give something back to society while coming together as a team.” – Mascha Driessen, Microsoft, Regional Senior Director of Strategic Sales, UBELONG Portugal Volunteer from the Netherlands – read her interview here.
What companies serve with UBELONG?
UBELONG has organized service trips for employees from companies throughout the world. Some companies have been among the largest in the world, while others have been small mom and pop shops. We always offer companies the same level of world-class support, professionalism and laser focus on offering trips that truly make an impact.
Some of the companies from which employees have travelled with us in the past include:
- ABN Amro
- Prouty Project
- Goldman Sachs
Who at my company can organize trips with UBELONG?
The short answer is anybody at your company can organize a trip with UBELONG.
And for the long answer…
The company groups who volunteer with UBELONG are oftentimes organized by company leaders and/or human resources professionals. With that said, sometimes employees self-organize themselves and then ask their managers for paid time off to do a trip with UBELONG. Every company is different – we’re flexible and can work with whatever your situation is.
The trips are often part of a talent development, team-building or corporate social responsibility program. Many employees also join us to develop their cross-cultural skills.
How do I organize a service trip with UBELONG?
Companies have two options:
1. Browse our existing service projects. Pick to go from 1 week to 6 months, and go to Africa, Asia or Latin America. If you’re looking for a highly affordable trip that is focused largely on service, then this is your best option.
There are over 100+ volunteer projects to pick from in areas like education, business, food security, NGO support and more. Depending on the country you pick, you can start any week of the year, or any other week.
2. Contact us and we’ll work with you to design a custom made trip around your exact budget, schedule, team size, and trip requirements. If budget is less important to you, and you’re looking for a fully customized itinerary designed just for you, then this is your best option.
In customizing a trip with us, you have lots of flexibility on such logistical items as:
- Your trip’s length of time. While most companies travel with us for 5 to 10 days, we can build trips that are much shorter or long. For example, with Microsoft we organized a 1-day service experience at our food bank project in Lisbon.
- Your destination. For example, while we do not offer volunteer trips to Cuba on an ongoing basis, for the Prouty Project, a consulting firm in Minnesota, they expressed a desire to learn about Cuban-American relations, so we designed a trip to Cuba for them that coincided with President Barack Obama’s historic 2016 visit there.
“This is an immersion, this is not tourism.” – Jeff Prouty, Prouty Project, Founder and Chairman, UBELONG Cuba Volunteer from the United States – watch his interview here.
Additionally, we can layer in team-building, networking and capacity-buildings aspects, for example:
- Meetings with VIPs. UBELONG trips in the past have visited the US Embassy in Ecuador; senior officials at the World Food Program in Cuba; the chief of the United Nations mission to Cambodia; the Minister of State and Finance in Portugal; and countless distinguished academic, business and nonprofit leaders.
- Visits to local businesses and nonprofits, always with a focus on engaging senior leaders in an authentic and direct manner.
- Offering highly interactive team-building, capacity-building and/or cross-cultural workshops focused around such critical questions as:
- How can we better leverage today’s inter-connected world to create value for our company?
- How can we use our experience serving abroad to build trust amongst ourselves?
- How can we position our company as one that puts social responsibility at its core?
- How can we better communicate across cultures?
- How can we develop more international relationships?
- Incorporating fun, engaging touristic activities into the itinerary. For example past teams hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru; visited the Taj Mahal in India; snorkeled in the Galapagos; and went wine tasting in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
A few of our locations at a glance
While all our volunteer locations across Africa, Asia and Latin America are open to company groups, here are four of our most popular locations for company trips:
Volunteer in Cusco, Peru
Located high in the Andres Mountains, and the jumping off point to Machu Picchu, Cusco has an incredible energy. Cusco is a small city, yet it offers many rich cultural experiences, as well as excellent outdoor activities like hiking and rafting, which many company groups build into their itinerary.
However, beyond the glitter of its many tourists, Cusco faces serious social and environmental challenges. Company groups serving in Cusco can create lasting change. Pick from projects in business, education, sports and more.
Company groups live in a Volunteer House located in the heart of the city. They can also spread out across host families. The choice is yours.
Volunteer in Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is a very popular location for company groups. Hanoi is Vietnam’s bustling capital city, yet it still maintains a traditional and more mellow vibe compared to other Asian cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.
Volunteers in Hanoi have many opportunities to serve on a grassroots level tackling challenges related to children’s education and urban poverty. They can live in the Volunteer House, which is located in the center of town, or in a more upscale hotel.
Hanoi has all the amenities of a big city and offers a wide array of activities, including art shows, great restaurants, museums and countless opportunities to walk around and experience Vietnamese culture at its finest. Learn more about volunteering in Vietnam with UBELONG.
“The local team is terrific. They are very helpful, kind and accommodating. There is also a lot of work to be done, so we are thankful we could do so much in a short period of time.” – Robine Hartman, ABN Amro, Analyst, UBELONG Vietnam Volunteer from the Netherlands – learn more about her company service trip here.
Volunteer in Rabat, Morocco
Rabat is a fascinating city. It combines Morocco’s old-world charm with great beaches and a year-round mild climate. The Moroccans are famous for their friendly and welcoming demeanor.
The construction, education and women’s empowerment volunteer projects are particularly popular among company groups serving in Morocco with UBELONG.
Volunteers live with local host families, which offers the perfect opportunity to live and experience life in Morocco in a very authentic manner. Learn more about volunteering in Morocco with UBELONG.
Volunteer in Galapagos, Ecuador
The Galapagos are a great fit for companies looking for a very physical experience in a beautiful setting.
The environmental projects there are outside and hands-on. In the Galapagos there is also a wide range of outdoor activities, including hikes, snorkeling, boating and scuba diving.
Company groups live in a rustic environmental reserve on San Cristobal Island. It can be a big step outside of peoples’ comfort zones, but also an incredible opportunity to experience something totally different.
“In our work at home we’re so used to being strategic and looking at the big picture. But in the Galapagos I was just a very small piece looking at a narrow part of the overall effort. And that was very enlightening, to be able to step back and understand that alone you can’t change the world, but collectively we can.” – Diane Berthel, Berthel Shutter, LLC, Co-Founder and Principal, UBELONG Galapagos Volunteer from the United States – read her interview here.
Volunteer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Company groups can pick from a variety of volunteer projects in Cambodia, including volunteering in an animal shelter, microfinance organization, school, clinic and various NGOs that work across areas like women’s empowerment and land rights.
In Phnom Penh you can live in a Volunteer House or with a local host family.
Phnom Penh is a very dynamic city that combines comforts of the Western world with traditional Asian culture. Many groups like volunteering in Cambodia because of the breadth of our programs there, as well as the city’s fast-paced nature.
What we do not do: “voluntourism” and “factory volunteering”
We do not do “voluntourism” and “factory volunteering,” which are unfortunate ways of travelling that have been perpetuated in recent years by money-driven tourism companies. Some of these are even owned by private equity firms.
While these companies spend millions of dollars on slick advertisements and websites, we believe these companies have little interest in actually making a positive social impact. We believe their goal is to pump as many people as possible into local communities. They have little regards to whether their “volunteers” are making a positive social impact or not, and, in our opinion, they do not properly mentor and support the people who travel with them.
Whether you travel with UBELONG or not, please do your research as you look into providers. We believe that as a responsible traveller you have the duty to only support organizations that are socially minded.