Indigo Volunteers is a charity that connects volunteers with humanitarian projects around the globe. On our travels we have found that many small grassroots organisations do not have the time or network to find volunteers that keep their projects running. Conversely, we have found that people who want to volunteer often find it difficult to identify projects that need their specific skills and meet their values.
By matching the right volunteers to the right projects, we help humanitarians focus on their objectives rather than spending precious time navigating the confusing and increasingly commercialised aid sector. We choose to mainly work with smaller grassroots organisations, where humans like you support other humans coping with poverty, displacement and inequality.
In addition, Indigo also support projects in setting up good volunteer practices whilst preparing volunteers themselves for the often-challenging tasks that lie ahead. Our aim is to be an intermediary source, creating connections between those who want to help and strengthening ties by advocating for collaboration and solidarity in the independent aid sector.
Indigo works with projects across the globe, currently with a focus on teams working alongside the European refugee route in Greece, Bosnia and Serbia, where urgent help is most needed.
Indigo Volunteers was founded in 2012 by Holly Penalver in response to the steep fees, dubious marketing practices, and questionable projects she had encountered whilst volunteering abroad. Holly had been keen to get involved and find a more ethical way to organise volunteering since first encountering these malpractices back in 2009. Now working as a paediatric nurse, she identified a small health clinic in Malawi and organised a volunteering placement for her and her colleagues. The trip confirmed two things: local grassroots projects had great interest in the assistance of independently placed volunteers, while Holly’s colleagues and friends were inspired to come out and help. Back home, she started her own non-profit volunteering matchmaking organisation; Indigo was born.
With the support of Holly’s dedicated friends and family, Indigo identified several projects across East Africa and started organising placements for a handful of brave applicants. Gradually, more countries and projects were added to the website, and more aspiring volunteers signed up. The 2015 refugee crisis proved a catalyst for a sudden growth spurt, yielding an unprecedented demand for immediate independent emergency aid on European soil. Our team moved out to Greece in 2016, joining ranks with Help Refugees to provide on-ground volunteer coordination and project support at several crisis hotspots in Greece, Serbia and Bosnia. Indigo has been present in the field ever since, placing over 1800 volunteers to well-over 80 partner projects along the refugee route.
Today, Indigo is still a small charity run by an excitable group of volunteers from several different countries and a handful of fulltime field staff. The world is our office; our day-to-day operations are coordinated mostly from behind our laptops. Meanwhile, our field team remains on the ground to support our partner projects and to identify new ones.