In the midst of this volunteering explosion, cooperation is one of the most important things an organization must embrace. As we learned from the Industrial Revolution (and from every single step we’ve made away from direct subsistence) delegating and working together is the key to success for the largest numbers. As a global network is built, each new organization must become part of that network—building on to the best parts by seeking out the people who are doing the most good. Once a working infrastructure is built, there is no reason to start a new one, especially when the early stages of building can be so difficult and can burn up so many precious resources. Instead, new resources can best be utilized in tandem with pre-existing systems. To bring all of this out of the theoretical: a volunteer organization can do the most good by working with other high-quality established organizations overseas.
This is something we’re seeing across the volunteering landscape. It has happened in many other industries too. For example, small web hosting companies rarely own their own infrastructure. Instead, they rely on the big, well-established companies to provide server space. They buy this space and then sell it to their own customers. The benefit of this for the small company is obvious. The benefit for the customers is personalized service. They get one-on-one technical assistance. This is something they’d never receive from the big company. (Of course, middlemen aren’t always good for business so it’s important to do your research.) Now imagine this scenario playing out between humanitarian organizations, driven by the desire to help people rather than the desire to make money. The small organizations help bring resources to the larger effort. In exchange, they enjoy the robust infrastructure of a long-standing humanitarian effort. They can trust that their volunteers will be working on clearly established projects with clearly established goals.
Volunteers for Peace is a perfect example of this type of cooperation. They run 40-60 of their own domestic volunteering projects every year (at a very reasonable flat rate of $350) but they work with high-quality international organizations for their volunteer projects overseas. Volunteers can trust the excellent reputation of Volunteers for Peace while they enjoy the extremely diverse and exciting array of international volunteer projects offered by VFP partners.
In a way, you can think of VFP as a vetting process. Sure, you could go volunteer directly with their partners but you would have to do a whole lot of research to determine which organizations were truly working for the greater good. By traveling through VFP, you have their stamp of approval and the personal service they offer. You have accountability and security, two invaluable elements in an uncertain volunteer landscape.