Who We Are
Indigo Volunteers was founded in 2012 to challenge the exploitative practices of for-profit volunteering agencies.
These companies, otherwise coined as ‘voluntourism’ agencies, charge extortionate fees and seem primarily concerned with selling exotic experiences, rather than considering their actual impact on those in need.
We want to ensure that volunteering remains true to its core humanitarian purpose: people helping people. That’s why we partner with grassroots, non-profit charities that are positively dedicated to supporting displaced communities.
Read our full story below.
Founded in 2012 by Holly Penalver, Indigo Volunteers came to be in response to the steep fees, dubious marketing practices, and questionable projects she had encountered whilst volunteering abroad. Holly was keen to find a more ethical way to get involved in volunteering since first coming across these malpractices back in 2009. While working as a paediatric nurse, she identified a small health clinic in Malawi and organised a non-profit volunteering placement for her and her colleagues. The trip confirmed two things: 1. Local grassroots projects had great interest in the assistance of independently placed volunteers. 2. Holly’s colleagues and friends were inspired by her experience and wanted to get out on the ground to make an impact for themselves. Back home, she realised that the core way she could influence the volunteer sector was to start a matchmaking organisation for volunteers and organisations built on responsible principles and ethical engagement. Thus, Indigo Volunteers was born. With the support of Holly’s dedicated friends and family, Indigo Volunteers identified several projects across East Africa and started organising placements for a handful of volunteer applicants. Gradually, more projects in more countries were added to the website and more aspiring volunteers signed up. The 2015 refugee crisis caused a sudden growth spurt and change in focus, yielding an unprecedented demand for immediate independent emergency aid on European soil. As a response, our team moved out to Greece in 2016 to provide on-the-ground volunteer coordination and project support at several crisis hotspots in Greece, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Indigo has been present on the ground ever since, placing over 3000 volunteers to well-over 80 partner projects along the refugee route. Today, our team of volunteers and staff continue supporting over 50 grassroots organisations across Greece, France, Serbia, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lebanon and Cyprus.
The world is our office. Our small charity is run by a passionate group of volunteers from several different countries and a handful of full-time staff.
We coordinate our day-to-day operations from behind our laptops, enabling us to work alongside our partners in the field and onboard an ever-growing number of projects and volunteers.
Founder and CEO
My initial volunteering experiences - after completing my degrees in Psychology and Nursing - showed me the importance of responsible volunteering. I founded Indigo in 2012 to make volunteering abroad more accessible, ensuring that each project we support benefits the people it's intended to help. I'm now attempting the classic juggling of running a charity whilst being mother to a 1-year old!
Head of Programmes & Partnerships
I manage and coordinate Indigo’s volunteering, wellbeing and capacity building programmes. I also like to make sure that our wonderful team is well taken care of in an HR capacity. It's been a joy to work in such an impactful organisation and within a committed team. After a long day, a walk in the city or playing the piano will always recharge me.
I manage Indigo's digital workspace, work with our board on compliance questions and generally support our team to make sure we work as effectively as we can. I first stumbled upon Indigo when working as a Volunteer Coordinator in Serbia. Fast forward two years and I decided to join this wonderful bunch of people myself!
I take care of the social media strategy and its implementation. I also participate in the general marketing strategy and try to find synergies between the different channels. One of my great passions is discovery, whether it's new food, interesting cultures or new ideas. I am an enhusiast by nature and am extremely excited to work with this wonderful team.
Working in Indigo as a volunteer coordinator is the perfect match after finishing my degrees in International Relations and Politics. Matching volunteers with the perfect partners allows a constant cycle of positivity and meaningful impact for all parts. In my free time, I like to do sports, travel, listening to music and see a good movie. I'm excited to be working within this great team!
I was inspired by Indigo’s mission and its efforts to support volunteers and grassroots organizations and decided to apply for a role of a volunteer coordinator. As a volunteer coordinator, I look for the best suitable projects matching our volunteers’ skills and knowledge. Volunteering is my biggest passion and I am very excited to share it with others as well as to promote the idea of responsible volunteering! In addition to volunteering, I am fond of travelling, learning new languages, discovering different cultures, and advocating for human rights around the world.
Coming from a background in business and recruitment, my aim is to draw upon previous experience to assist Holly and the team with marketing and strategic planning, and act as a general sounding board as / when needed. Indigo’s incredible team, my history volunteering in the refugee sector and an ongoing desire to help improve the situation makes indigo the perfect fit.
At Indigo Volunteers we see our differences as our strength.
We are committed to cultivating an equal and fair working environment free from discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, mental health, religion or age. We are a non-governmental charity organisation and do not align ourselves to any political party or subscribe to any particular religious belief system.