From Local Lives to Lasting Legacies: Raleigh International’s long-term effect on in-country volunteers

This pilot study examines the long-term effect of Raleigh International’s Expedition programme on volunteers in Namibia and China who took part in Raleigh’s programmes between 1998 and 2004. At the heart of the research is a ‘Theory of Change’ model, based on in-depth life story interviews with programme alumni, giving insight into the short- and longer-term outcomes for volunteers, as well as what enabled those changes over time.

The five key long-term outcomes for volunteers were increases in: volunteering and civic engagement; confidence and self-esteem; determination, courage and ability to solve problems; international perspective and cross-cultural awareness; and leadership skills. The analysis shows that the personal and wider active citizenship impacts were not only significant, but sustained over time. The study also conducted a pilot Social Cost-Benefit Analysis (SCBA) of the key outcomes, providing an indication of the value for money delivered over time. The analysis shows a positive return on investment, with around £3 of long-term social benefit for every £1 invested in the programme.

The pilot provides a useful first step in understanding and measuring the long-term changes that short-term (3 months) volunteering programmes can have for young people in developing countries and how these can contribute to delivering sustainable outcomes, and puts forward recommendations for the wider development community in building the evidence base around the long-term impact of volunteering in developing countries.

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