Being able to work online and from anywhere in the world has many advantages. You get to see beautiful places and meet fascinating cultures. Many remote workers can set their own schedules which leaves them with much flexibility. A great way to make use of this flexibility is by giving back to the community. In fact, volunteering abroad while working remotely has never been easier. Believe it or not, but there is even a program which organizes these kinds of volunteer and remote work experiences for you. Its name: Venture with Impact.
If you want to find out more about the concept and how you can participate in this unique volunteer abroad opportunity, read on. I had the chance to interview the founder and CEO, Ann Davis, who will give you some highly interesting insights into the life of a volunteering remote worker.
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What Is Venture With Impact?
Before we jump right into the interview, let’s have a short look at the company in general.
Venture with Impact is a social enterprise that…
“…enables diverse professionals to work abroad while making a difference where they live and travel.”
This work-abroad program allows digital nomads and professionals of any kind to work remotely for their jobs while engaging in a 4-week volunteering program. That means the participants have a positive social impact while still working in their normal jobs.
During the program, Venture with Impact provides accommodation, cultural activities and matches the professionals with pro-bono opportunities with local partners. This placement is based on skills, interest and schedules.
In 2018 you can choose between programs in Colombia, Thailand and Portugal.
Venture with Impact: The Interview
After surviving cancer and traveling to over 40 countries in her 20’s, Ann Davis decided to found Venture with Impact. Learn more about her amazing story and how you can profit from the volunteering and working remotely program:
1. Before you became an entrepreneur you were working as a teacher in New Orleans and New York. When and how did you realize that you wanted a career change?
I always knew that I wanted a career that would let me be financially secure but also have a social impact. During my first year with Teach for America, I was out for a run when I felt an electric shock run up my leg. I collapsed and suffered a seizure. It turned out that I had a golf ball-sized tumor on my brain and would need surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. It was the most difficult year of my life.
When I recovered, I knew that I had to pursue my passion for travel and international development.
2. What were your family and friends saying about the fact that you quit your job, left your home and started something completely different? Were they supportive or rather shocked?
Honestly, I’ve always had a passion for travel, after living in rural Venezuela, traveling to San Pedro de Sula, Honduras (one of the most dangerous cities in the world), as well as traveling solo to over 40 countries, I don’t think my leap was a huge surprise to my family.
3. How did you come up with the idea of Venture with Impact?
A college friend and I realized that many of our friends and colleagues struggled to balance their desire to travel the world and give back with their careers and financial stability. Venture with Impact was designed to share those global travel opportunities with working professionals.
4. Speaking from an organizational point of view: Was it hard to find volunteer opportunities for groups or how do you usually find these placements?
We dedicate a lot of time and effort on the ground to build relationships with organizations in our host cities. Many organizations are quick to request volunteers, but it’s important to us that we are meeting organizations’ needs with specific skills or knowledge that our participants can contribute, and we never want to replace a local employee.
5. I can only imagine how much there is to consider to when planning these programs. What are the biggest challenges for you when organizing the monthly programs?
Venture with Impact is a social enterprise, therefore we do not accept donations, and all of our revenue comes from our participant payments. As a startup it’s naturally always somewhat of a challenge ensuring that we have consistent clients to fill our programs.
6. Could you tell us a bit more about the typical participants of the program? Are they mainly freelancers, entrepreneurs or remote employees? What about age range or experience?
Our Venturers come from a wide variety of backgrounds! We’ve hosted teachers on their summer break, tech sector employees who work remotely, lawyers, retirees, digital marketers, and many other professions. Programs are typically a mix of men and women anywhere from their late twenties to fifties. Some have traveled abroad before, and for others it’s the first time. The only true common denominators are a desire to contribute to positive social impact and a sense of adventure!
7. How does a normal day for the participants of your program look like? How much time do they spend on their jobs and how much on volunteering? And what are typical volunteer tasks?
Part of the Venture with Impact experience is that there’s no such thing as a “normal” day! Everyone will experience the program slightly differently based on their personality, background, interests and job. Most Venturers will dedicate a few hours a day to their regular employment, but the schedule depends on the time zone. They might work out of the designated space at their apartment, or find a new cafe or coworking space downtown.
Volunteering hours depend on each individual’s availability, and could range from a few hours a week to full days. Again, tasks vary for each participant. We have had Venturers design and deliver workshops for educators and students, work on digital marketing campaigns, design websites, assist in creating public health workshops, consult on fundraising and finances, and much more.
Programs include a weekly cultural event or meetup for the entire group to hang out and reflect on their experience. Free time is spent exploring the city, taking language classes or just meeting new people!
8. What kind of feedback do you get during and after the program? Do the participants find it hard to balance their own work and volunteering? What do they like most about the experience?
Although our Venturers are always off exploring the city and traveling on the weekends, all of our Venturers state that work productivity is not an issue. In fact, with new inspiration and motivations, many state that they are in fact more productive!
One of the greatest benefits of the program is personal growth. Everyone benefits differently from a month abroad, but all of our Venturers have changed. For example, we had a lawyer who after working with an organization in international human rights, has decided he wants to make a career pivot. A couple that joined us in Medellin this past July fell in love with Colombia, and would like to adopt a child from the country. There are many more stories like these.
9. How about the locals at the volunteer placement? How do they experience the program?
We work with a variety of partner organizations at each of our program locations. Our partners are incredibly grateful to be working with and learning from professionals with specific skills that benefit their organization. Of course the experience is a two-way street, and our local partners enjoy taking Ventures under their wing to expose them to their culture and projects.
10. How do you see the future of Venture with Impact? Any long-term goals or plans?
Venture with Impact is continuing to grow. In 2018 we are adding programs in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Lisbon, Portugal. Additionally, we have begun to partner with companies, who are permitting or even sponsoring their employees to participate with us.
You don’t need to be a seasoned remote professional or digital nomad to participate in any Venture with Impact program. The team is happy to speak to your employer and explain to benefits of this program. They also provide you with plenty of tips how you can convince your employer to allow you to work online for a few weeks so you can participate.
Combine Working Remotely and Volunteering
As you can see, it is indeed possible to work remotely and volunteer abroad at the same time. You won’t have to take time off of your current job to do good. You don’t have to decide between the two anymore. Venture with Impact is a social enterprise that enables you to combine having a positive social impact and working online in your normal job.
They organize your accommodation, social activities and match your skills and interests to local pro-bono opportunities. Venture with Impact enables you to make life-changing experiences together with other like-minded people. Use the flexibility of your remote job and volunteer abroad for a few weeks or more. You most definitely won’t regret it.
If you want to find out more about Venture with Impact, check out their website and join one of their upcoming programs. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.
Do you already have any experiences with volunteering abroad programs or would you like to use the flexibility of your remote job to finally have a positive social impact? Let us know in the comment section below!