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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

GVN Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, International, International Development, International Economic Development, Microfinance

Mission: We believe that empowering women and children is the key to changing the world. We do this by providing financial resources to grassroots organizations working with vulnerable women and children in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our core objectives are: - To provide a source of funding for GVN projects that work with vulnerable women and children; - To provide fun, inspiring and educational opportunities for GVN volunteers to stay connected to their volunteer projects through fundraising; - To introduce new people to the work of GVN through our fundraising campaigns.

Results: To read more about our achievements to date, please read our Annual Reports: http://gvnfoundation.org/learn/reports/

Programs: We support grassroots organizations in Peru, Ecuador, Nepal, Vietnam, the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Community Stories

66 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Emma R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

By far my favorite non-profit because GVN supports communities to achieve THEIR own set goals. GVN connects people who want to lend a hand with people that need a hand and work to create sustainable methods of doing so. I was lucky to see all the behind the scenes work that GVN does and what a brilliant community of people they have behind them. We'll done !

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Well how about having a new family for a week? This is what I got from my experience in BTC Costa Rica. All I had to do was find my passion in this life and be part of a family that can nourish and help me grow and expand my idea in the right direction and the right influence. Everyone in the program came in with the good intentions and want to be part of humanity in helping other human being in their own way and their own projects. We were exposed to inspiring people that actually were the change in their community. I loved this experience as it helped me dig further down inside myself and try to find my way in connecting with people and make them feel my passion about my cause in food waste management as a whole. The coordinators, Colin and Caitie, have dedicated their time for each and everyone of us to take us into the right direction and connecting us with the right people.

If I can do it again, I will! I recommend this to anyone who has the passion and the power inside to change something around them that they don't like.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have decided to take a break from my advertising carreer after running a small agency in Brazil for almost 10 years. There was something inside me that told me to do that. I asked a friend that work in UN how to be a volunteer in Nepal and he recommened GVN Foundation. As I was researching about them I found the Be the Change program in Costa Rica. I've enrolled the program and had a very interesting and inspiring week among people from all over.
This mix of cultures and experiences is so rich and enlighting... I really recommend the program to the ones that want to get inspired and oriented by people with knowledge and good heart. And if you have already your idea in mind it is ever more useful. You can have a huge help and counseling in whatever your objective is. A real nice program lectured by real experienced and nice people

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Earlier this spring, I felt as though I had hit a wall in my career. I was burnt out and being a classroom teacher wasn’t as fulfilling anymore. Whether it was the mid spring slump or the seven year slump, I knew I needed to make a change. I loved teaching too much to become unhappy and I was not ready to begin to neither despise it nor quit. Subsequently, I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching to explore my dreams and my passions.
Be The Change Costa Rica reminded me why I had loved teaching so much in the first place. It brought me back to my roots and challenged me every step of the way to uncover my passion: to effectively change educational policy where young leaders learn to become change makers in our society by providing them with historical knowledge and thus empowering the youth to become effective citizens of the world. BTC mentally and emotionally challenged us as individuals to think critically about ourselves, our projects and provided us with tools to help us take our dreams and make them realities.
In the past three months, I have worked extensively with the Global Volunteer Network and my life has been a whirlwind of change. My skills as a history teacher were sought out and I was invited to travel with the GVN team to Sydney, Australia and co-develop the leadership and entrepreneurial conference for 60 youth, ages 15-19. I personally developed and led workshops on white privilege and anti-racist training. Through BTC, I was also asked to help another participant help design an English teaching program in Dansai, Thailand. I traveled to Thailand where I actively recruited members of the community to participate in our program. I have never been so exhausted and fulfilled in my life. The idea of continuing down this path of work truly inspires me as an educator and as a citizen.

1 Eden H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As I am only 18, going to BTC felt like a real leap of faith - I knew that I would be sharing my ideas and working with accomplished individuals from all over the world, with different cultural and professional backgrounds. Fortunately, my experience at BTC was all the better for this diversity, and my youth proved not to be a hindrance but a strength of mine. I had not recognized the value of acting as a springboard for a fresh perspective on the topics discussed by the BTC participants - all of whom were really respectful and constructive in their feedback. For me, my personal 'project' was, well, myself! (As I did not have a set direction in mind). BTC not only exposed me to a plethora of new interests and relationships - the supportive and dynamic environment gave me a sense of confidence in myself and my ability to achieve my goals. I feel that BTC really streamlined my direction in terms of self-development. I'd recommend Be The Change to anyone looking for a new experience and guidance in regard to how you can create positive social change in your life.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 1

On their website GVN claims that the overwhelming number of negative reviews they get come from those who never participated in their programs or were done by competing volunteer organizations. Well, I am a regular person, a registered nurse, who has travelled and participated in other volunteer projects in the developing countries.

I volunteered in a medical program offered by GVN and managed by Maximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru in August 2015. And by far, it was the worst volunteer experience I've ever had, it lacked structure, involvement and supervision by GVN. The concerns reported by me and other volunteers were not addressed, GVN and Maximo Nivel took little to no responsibility for their failure to deliver what they signed people up for. The total cost of the program was $765 for a week. There are much cheaper volunteer programs out there... hell, there are free ones out there!

During the orientation, they offered free t-shirts in exchange for positive reviews and "likes" on Facebook. If your level of integrity was what you say it is, you would not have to ask for praise, your Goodness would be undeniable.

I wish I had known better, but I guess it was a learning experience. So my suggestion is read, do research before you sign up with anyone. Make an informed decision. And good luck impacting lives

12

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Because Bill Gates had some years ago made a positive reference to GVN, I felt it must be a legitimate organization and applied to volunteer. I volunteered in Kenya for 2 weeks in August 2014 with an HIV support organization called Living Positive Mlolongo which was supposed to be sponsored by GVN. None of my program fee went toward supporting the work of this organization; a "middleman" organization in Nairobi had provided LPM with about $ 50 worth of food in early 2013, and they planned another equal distribution before the end of the year. All of the needs other interns and I encountered ($$ for medicines and food for HIV+ women, dressings, a leg brace, clinic transportation, schoolbooks for the school GVN operated in a nearby slum, an xray) were covered by us four volunteers. When we contacted program staff about this we were reissued a few densely obscure pages of policy in which it was stated that our program fees were applied to a fund to benefit certain organizations for orphans and other Kenyans in need, but NOT NECESSARILY the organizations we would be serving during our volunteer time. We poured a tremendous amount of our own money into supporting projects and clients associated with Living Positive Mlolongo and where our fees actually went I have no idea. What a scam!

Comments ( 1 )

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Colin Salisbury 01/07/2015

>> From GVN Foundation: Please note that this review relates to GVN (a separate entity) and is not about the GVN Foundation, and our funds distribution. We are happy to provide information on the distinction between these two entities, and the figures, annual reports and independent audits on the financials of GVN and GVN Foundation. We can understand the confusion as GVN Foundation was born out of a need identified by Global Volunteer Network’s volunteers for funding channels to continue supporting their volunteer project after returning home. GVN Foundation has a contestable ‘Greatest Needs’ fund for partner projects available through their funds distribution process. For specific funding needs identified, Global Volunteer Network recommends that volunteers talk with the in-country staff about their suggestions and possibilities for applying to the GVN Foundation for funds raised through one of their campaigns like Eat So They Can. >> From Global Volunteer Network: At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organizations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we work in support of their decisions. At the request of our partner, the donation portion of the program fee goes into a fund held by them to be distributed in line with their funding commitments and priorities. This information is included in Global Volunteer Network’s primary resource sent out our volunteers under a breakdown of the costs involved and states: “To create meaningful impact, donations are accumulated in what is called the Kenya Fund. The Fund is administered by our partner and provides support to the local organizations which they work with. Current initiatives include paying schools fees and buying school supplies; funding feeding programs; and construction needs at various projects. If you have a specific idea at your placement, please speak with partner staff about the possibilities for funding.” It would create great challenges for Global Volunteer Network’s partner and the students they are sponsoring to withdraw from this commitment. Increases in volunteer numbers would grow the fund and give further opportunity for granting to more of the 21 schools, orphanage, clinics and other community projects volunteers are placed with.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Recently widowed, I was looking for direction for a non-profit my late husband had founded to promote technical education in Latin America. Happening upon the Global Volunteer Network website, I felt intuitively the GVN Be the Change Program would be a good place to begin anew after the loss of the energy, technical expertise, and love for humanity I had spent the past 45 years supporting. The week in New Zealand with the GVN staff was truly a vision-changing experience for me.

I made certain commitments in the Be the Change program, and it was impossible for me to return to my home in the western United States without a plan of action to implement some of the BTC strategies I was exposed to in New Zealand. Through the website, I learned about the Distribution Trip scheduled for June 2014 in Uganda and signed on to further learn how GVN gets the funds they raise to the actual programs on the ground. It was important to me that the organization itself was not a "Fat Cat", with personnel enjoying the good life while a few dollars trickle to token projects for real people who suffer.

Seeing first hand how GVN-supported projects such as Eat So They Can are at work in Uganda, I can vouch for the integrity and work ethic of the folks at GVN. They are personally invested in their projects and provide hands-on support. They are NOT living high on donated money and giving what's left over to token projects. These people are living and breathing with the people in Africa, Asia and South America who are genuinely able to better themselves through GVN projects. I love these people!

JoAnne Summers
Ammon, ID USA

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to go on the GVN Distribution Trip to Uganda in June this year. To say that the trip was an experience of a lifetime is an understatement. To see first-hand how GVN Support and fund projects in Uganda is amazing, it’s all about starting at the Grassroots of a project and ensuring that the community have the skills and knowledge to help the projects thrive and be self-sufficient. GVN have made a huge difference to so many communities in Uganda and throughout the world.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Travelling to Uganda with the GVN Foundation was an experience of a lifetime.

My role on the trip was to photograph the projects and people that the foundation supports for a 2015 Charity Calendar.

I was very glad to see that rather than hand outs, GVN's focus is on projects that empower the communities to be self sufficient. This is achieved though education and careful consideration of new partnerships.

It was a pleasure to be photographing the projects in action and I hope that I was able to capture the sprit that the GVN Foundation is fostering.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working for GVN changed my life! I was an International Intern for Eat So They Can for two years and I believe anyone who is interested in social justice, international development or getting involved in making the world a better place should definitely be part of this fantastic NGO. I have gained invaluable experience, fantastic skills, great network and contributed to global communities - the best part of GVN is anyone can do this, all you need is passion and dedication and the will to make a positive change. This opportunity will open up many doors - I have been very fortunate to be the grand winner of one of ESTC distribution trips, I will be traveling to Uganda in June. I can guarantee you with commitment, GVN will be a life transforming journey! Get onboard, everyone! :)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with GVN through their Eat So They Can (ESTC) Foundation as a volunteer intern was a blessing. The experience on a whole gave informed me on the various programs within the organisation while also addressing the main issues surrounding them. The support and information I received about conducting my own fundraiser was also invaluable. I can't wait to continue my support and watch this growing foundation!

Jiao J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GVN foundation is my favorite non profit organization. Initially I heard it from my university adviser, they focus on helping the two most love-needed group- women and children, so I started the international volunteer experience with GVN. No matter the training guidance or hands on help from the current stuffs were very good. They are very very nice, I really enjoy working with a group of people who have the same goal with me and got along with each other pretty well. During the fund raising party I made in my university in the U.S. and my hometown China, they mailed many important materials to me and kept contacting me for knowing more details events then gave me relative advice. The most exciting time was when I mailed them the photos of my events and my suggestions about the future fundraising plan. After finishing the volunteer program, they still contacted with me and helped in many things like my graduate school application, they gave me lots of advice and also recommendations. I really appreciate. If I want to do next volunteer program or visiting any non-profit organization, I will also choose them without any hesitations. :)

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I had always wanted to make a difference in people. I believe God created me for this purpose, that is serving the right cause for humanity especially for the challenged ones in the world. GVN gave me the opportunity to live that purpose and reach out as a mouthpiece for men, women and children in developing world. Volunteering as an international intern with the GVN's Eat So They Can opened my horizon in another perception; and as a lover of exploring different food from different parts of the world, it was so candid to get people involve for a good cause as simple as sharing a meal, having a cooking competition or a tea party....Hey, there's always someone who will eat. In Nigeria where I volunteered and as my home country, it is generally believe that 'the way to the heart of man is through his stomach'.....So why not eat so that others can equally feed. GVN gave me something so real, yet so simple.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer, donor, and international intern with the GVN Foundation and Eat So They Can! I love the work they do in many countries to help communities with SUSTAINABLE solutions. That old saying "give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for life" is always in the back of my mind when I am doing work with them. Their approach to solving world hunger is in my opinion the best way.

As a volunteer in Ecuador I saw up close how they are helping the reforestation of the cloud forest, the removal of invasive species and creating sustainable food solutions at the various projects for schools and communities. They were also supporting me throughout my entire stay in Ecuador, checking in to make sure I was satisfied with the experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My association with GVN Foundation was primarily based upon the great results they have generated over the years, their reputation and recently blossomed association with the United Nations really showed me that this foundation can make a difference in the world we live in today. I worked for them as an International Intern working from Auckland, New Zealand helping to fund raise for the Eat So They Can campaign. GVN throughout my internship provided support and constantly helped to ensure I stayed on track so that their goals of supporting communities across the world was achieved. I've not been involved within another non-profit organization which provided such a great support and goal orientated network like the GVN Foundation. You have the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with those making the "clutch" decisions and your opinions, view and ideas are taken on board. Working with the GVN Foundation provided me with a great outlook and tool to help the global community, something I was previously not possible to do. Thanks GVN!

Grace L.

Donor

Rating: 5

Having been a donor and attended an Eat So They Can ball, I am extremely impressed with GVN, and the dedication the team has to achieving their own set goals. While there are a lot of NFP out there, I feel like I know where my money is going. Instead of being an organisation that brings awareness through "sympathy" imagery, it celebrates what it can achieve through sociable and interesting events. Ace work guys.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I am not surprised that there are so few bad reviews of GVN. The administrators are practiced at discouraging any feedback that does not include the words, 'amazing', 'fantastic' 'life changing'. Although I must admit GVN have changed the last three months of my life (since I returned to a placement with them in Nepal). I've spent hours writing to them and receiving condescending replies and utter inaction in terms of dealing with the concerns I expressed -- elements of neglect of basic care for the children in a children's home. I still don't know what happens to the volunteer program fee. I found out the very small percentage that goes to care and feeding of volunteers and I found that none goes to the kids in the home! I expect after I post this to receive a response from one of the teflon coated staff -- who will it be Colin? or Erin?

Comments ( 1 )

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Colin Salisbury 03/11/2014

We are saddened to read this review, particularly given the time we have invested in looking into the serious allegation of neglect. After our investigation, we find these allegations to be unfounded, taking into account independent medical reports from health professionals with experience working in Nepal and who work directly with the children in question. We have also reviewed the regular audits on the standards of the children's home conducted by Nepali authorities, and reports obtained from the World Bank and other independent research institutions on child nutrition in the developing world. Please also note that this review relates to GVN (a separate entity) and is not about the GVN Foundation, and our funds distribution. We are happy to provide information on the distinction between these two entities, and the figures, annual reports and independent audits on the financials of GVN and GVN Foundation. GVN is always open to receiving feedback (both the good and the bad), and we continually seek ways to improve our services to our volunteers, partner organizations, and the communities we work with. Yes, there are times when we’ve got it wrong, when we could have done things better - we are quick to own up to that. Unfortunately organizations such as GVN can always ‘be held to ransom’ in public domains when our research, findings/investigations, and at times opinions differ to that of a complainant. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm currently working as an intern for the GVN Foundation and I have found the experience to be incredibly rewarding and I've loved every moment of it. There is a very supportive work environment, I've had so many learning opportunities and they've given me the kick-start to my career I needed. Everyone here is so passionate about what they do and we all love to have a bit of fun aswell! It's so awesome to be a part of something that is so incredibly positive.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Having the opportunity to volunteer and help contribute to the work the GVN Foundation is doing has been a remarkable experience. The team in the office are incredible friendly but also excellent at their roles which has been an amazing help. The work that GVN Foundation does globally in empowering communities is amazing and incredibly worthwhile, I would have no qualms volunteering again and helping out where I could.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently interning at GVN helping to coordinate their 2013 New Zealand Live Below the Line campaign. The experience has been so much fun and the staff have been extremely supportive. When I walk into the office I am greeted by the smiling faces and positive attitudes of a team of people passionate about what they do.