All Hands Volunteers is the world’s leading disaster relief organization powered by volunteers. Over the last ten years, we have enabled over 35,000 volunteers to donate 175,000 days impacting 500,000 people all over the globe. As our volunteers work together to rebuild hope alongside local residents and partners, communities are restored and lives are transformed.
All Hands Volunteers is a US-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations and local communities. Our vision is to demonstrate the power and value of volunteer service through the tangible work done, the hope it brings to suffering communities and the transformative experiences it provides for volunteers.
We respond to the needs of communities impacted by the immediate devastation from natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations and local communities to help homeowners by engaging in activities like “mucking and gutting” after a flood, “rubbling” after an earthquake, or safe demolition for buildings that are dangerous.
We work together with communities to meet their longer term needs by rebuilding the basic “hubs” of a community, including homes, schools, day care facilities, and community centers.
We become part of the fabric of the communities we serve. As we do so, we uncover new ways that we can serve and encourage our volunteers to meet these needs where feasible. Projects have included weekly movie nights for kids in Malawi to offset the devastation with smiles and laughter, holding weekly English tutoring sessions in the Philippines, or hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for hundreds of flood victims in Detroit.
Every disaster brings unique challenges and affects people’s lives and their communities differently. So All Hands Volunteers is all about nimble and creative problem solving, adaptability and ingenuity. We discover the needs of those we serve on the ground and create and adapt our solutions to fit those needs, not the other way around.
While there are almost always multiple communities heavily impacted by a natural disaster, the bulk of the relief efforts are usually focused in limited areas–often driven by media coverage. All Hands Volunteers, however, is deeply committed to seeking out the most under-served communities which are usually outside of the public eye. As a result, we are often the only organization serving in those communities where damage is as great as–or greater than–more publicized locations.
All Hands Volunteers is committed to rebuilding the communities that we serve in the smartest way possible, which means that:
All Hands Volunteers doesn’t just respond to the initial damage sustained from a natural disaster, we stay to help communities recover and rebuild. While some organizations stay just a few days following a disaster, All Hands Volunteers averages 148 days on a program. And while other organizations rush to scale, we practice perseverance. As such, we keep our eye on the long term. Examples include:
A key objective for All Hands Volunteers is to work together with members of the community in order to rebuild confidence and hope in addition to much needed skills and job opportunities. To accomplish this important objective, we offer job training opportunities and certification programs to locals according to the needs of the community.
All Hands Volunteers strongly believes in the untapped power of the individual when driven by a desire to make a difference. While some relief organizations utilize volunteers, more often than not they only engage pre-trained volunteers or those from their existing networks or memberships, while others charge a fee for volunteering. All Hands takes a unique approach and accepts spontaneous volunteers from any background or faith, providing on-the-job training free of charge. This broadens our capability to help those in distress, offers a transformative experience to those who serve with us, and brings a wider pool of skills to the relief effort.
When all of this comes together, there is a truth that is consistently evident – in the process of responding, rebuilding, and renewing the communities that we serve, we are transformed by the resilience, hope, and strength we find in the hearts of the people we meet in the process.
Our story begins after the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in December 2004. Business professional David Campbell spontaneously headed to Thailand to see how he could help. His intended one-week volunteer visit turned into a month, during which he co-founded HandsOnThailand and worked with more than 200 other spontaneous volunteers to rebuild five fishing villages in Phuket.
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. in late 2005, David and several other HandsOn volunteers established HandsOnUSA, coordinating 1,500 volunteers to help the survivors of the storm. In 2010, HandsOnUSA became All Hands Volunteers.
While the true power comes from volunteers, All Hands can continue to respond to disasters around the world because of the tireless support of our dedicated staff and board.
All Hands Volunteers opened its doors in 2005 and is headquartered in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. In 2010, we opened a second office in the UK.