Global Vision International (GVI) is an award-winning organization that focuses on high-impact and high-quality conservation and community development programs. Its mission drives all that it does, “To build a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.”
Founded in 1998, this family-run social enterprise‘s team members work across the globe, and more than 2,500 people join GVI’s volunteer programs and internships annually. To date more than 28,000 people have participated in 150+ projects, providing service and tackling important global issues.
High-impact projects are key to GVI’s success, with programs that last from one week to six months. Short-term trips are designed for younger volunteers, including high school students, who want to travel, learn, and support good causes. Longer programs are excellent for those looking for career-development opportunities to build on their education and gain professional experience in their field.
Many of GVI staff members have served as volunteers abroad, so they have confidence in their projects, have the first-hand experience as participants, and want to share those same amazing experiences with fellow travelers who want to volunteer overseas. More than 150 staff in the field and office in 30 countries support its programs and the enjoyment and fulfillment of its volunteers.
GVI projects are designed to help address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which build upon the Millennium Development Goals. Programs focus on sustainable development in social, environmental, and economic areas within communities.
GVI is proud of its 95% approval rating from more than 28,000 participants and considers its community development and conservation volunteer programs as the key to its success.
GVI’S Founding Story
Richard Walton is the founder of GVI, having started the organization because he wanted to ensure that the programs run by GVI were making a sustainable difference to their communities.
The idea came about two decades ago when, as a young man with a passion for travel and meeting people, Walton and a friend gathered a group of 20 volunteers for a marine expedition to Roatán, an island in Honduras. The end result of that trip was a contrast to his first volunteer trip abroad, to Patagonia as a teen.
“I volunteered with an organization in Patagonia, for three months, which was, and still is, one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he recalled. “I had just turned 18 and went with about another 120 young people on a youth development expedition. We split up into small groups and basically explored Patagonia. For an 18-year-old who was passionate about bushcraft and survival, it was heaven,” Walton said.
Walton said he and other members of the travel group were chopping logs and building a bandstand in a remote village when he noticed that no one in the community came out to see what the volunteers were doing, and weren’t involved. They simply weren’t interested, and probably weren’t going to use the structure. He asked himself, “Is this really necessary?”
That’s the kind of question that still drives the staff at GVI, where their ambition is to help provide young people with an amazing experience that helps them grow and build leadership skills, but also to have a positive impact while doing so.