Welcome to the English page of IBO-Nederland!

Since the entire website of IBO-Nederland is in Dutch, it is difficult to understand for people who don’t speak the language. Therefore we created this English page to provide you with the necessary information.

Philosophy: 'Willingness to help is the principle for a better world'

To start with, IBO stands for International Building Organisation, and ‘Nederland’ is Dutch for The Netherlands.  IBO-Nederland is the Dutch branch of the International Building Association, which has member organisations in 10 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland).
The very first IBO that was established in 1953 by the priest Father Werenfried van Straaten in Belgium. As part of IBO in Belgium, the SIBO (Secular Institute of the Building Organisation) started in 1956 and was meant for long-term volunteers who were permanent employees of the organisation. IBO-Nederland was initiated in 1957. The International Building Association, which enabled the international cooperation between the various organisations in Europe, was founded in 1962. Click here to enter the international shared website.

Nowadays, all members of the IBO association together send out approximately 3000 volunteers per year. Annually, IBO-Nederland is accountable for 200+ individual volunteers and various fixed groups (schools, companies etc.).

IBO-Nederland is a volunteer organisation with a long and rich history. From 1957, volunteers were sent mainly to Germany and Austria to help rebuild and renovate houses for refugees from the WWII. Their living conditions were still very poor. Over the years, the housing conditions improved. Other countries started to get in the picture because in many countries people lived in dire situations (e.g. south Europe). After the end of the Cold War (1989), a great number of projects in east Europe arose.  Besides only building/renovation activities, there was also demand for social care, and later on also for ecological support.

What does it mean; voluntary work with IBO-Nederland?
Volunteers should be prepared for adventure, meeting new people, and getting to know a country. In addition they need enthusiasm, be willing to collaborate and have great love for the world.
The organisation offers voluntary work on small-scale projects abroad. All the projects are chosen with care. Volunteers don’t travel as tourists, but get the chance to experience the culture, country and its people. IBO aspires to have an international group of volunteers on every project. Volunteers work actively together, mostly with locals, to fulfil the goals that are set for the duration of the project. IBO considers cultural exchange, experiencing, and getting a different perspective on other people important elements of a voluntary project.

The goal, vision and mission as written in the statutes of IBO-Nederland:

Goal: To effectively and selflessly contribute to the realization of projects for people in need, regardless of their religion, worldview or nationality. This cooperation is seen as an expression of solidarity, as a contribution to the improvement of international relations and as a means of spiritual enrichment of those who are actively or passively involved.

Vision: To accomplish the goal Stichting IBO-Nederland actively implements her policy to annually send enough volunteers to projects where their help is needed. This is realised with financial support of donors. This policy contains a few core values like respect, openness, reliability and quality.

Mission: Collaboration of volunteers and local communities, IBO-The Netherlands contributes to(the development of) solidarity, understanding of other cultures and social awareness

Request for IBO-volunteer support!

IBO welcomes new and inspiring projects that fit our goals, vision and mission. Do you have a project that can use the help of IBO volunteers? You can download our application form here.

Projects are eligible for support from IBO-Nederland if the social and financial necessity is clear. Also, the work has to be suitable for untrained and often inexperienced volunteers. We expect the project to be led by someone in the applicant’s organization, who is experienced and knows what is to be done.

IBO sends volunteers. We do not fund the project. However, it is possible to apply for limited project support of around €100 per volunteer per project in order to be able to buy materials for the project. This support is possible because of gifts an donations we receive from our loyal supporters. The IBO-board decides whether or not, and for how much, a project will be supported in this way.


In order to be eligible for support, the project has to meet at least these four criteria:

  1. The social necessity of the project is clear and it has to do with the living environment of people.
  2. The financial necessity is clear: it has proven to be impossible or very hard to realize the project in any other way.
  3. The project is likely to be viable, especially when it concerns a new initiative.
  4. The work is suitable for inexperienced volunteers.


The volunteers IBO attracts, are mainly youth between 18 and 30 years old who want to do something good and useful during their (summer) holiday. In recent years more and more others have taken an interest as well, for instance people in the age group over thirty, families and people who are retired from their jobs. IBO of course applauds this!

The volunteers are available to work for five days a week, eight hours a day. They usually do not have any building experience or specific technical, social or ecological knowledge or training. Nevertheless, results can be sensational if they are guided well!

Besides these untrained volunteers, IBO also wants to attract students or trainees. If your project is suitable for, or already offers, certain traineeships, please contact IBO as well.


Suitable work

In consultation with the applicant, the volunteers can do simple building jobs, like carpentry, masonry, demolition, plastering or drywall. Or they can be put to work in an ecological environment, as gardeners or signpost builders for example. Also social activities, for example helping to take care of elderly or disabled or organizing creative activities or small sports events, are possible.

Most projects last two to four weeks. For volunteers, this is usually just right. If work is abundant and supervision is available, it is possible to receive several groups of volunteers during one summer, one group after another.


Accommodation, food and coordination of the work

IBO expects the project to provide for safe and good accommodation. Luxury is not expected. A clean and dry space, if possible with beds, will do.

Also breakfast, lunch and dinner should be provided for by the project. Depending on possibilities, arrangements can be made for the volunteers to cook for themselves or to have someone cook for them.

It´s very important that the volunteers have someone they can contact throughout the project, who supervises during work hours and is available for work related issues, organizational affairs, small talk and everyday problems.

Finally it´s important to IBO that the volunteers feel welcome when they arrive. This can for instance be achieved by picking them up from a central point, making sure they are welcomed at arrival, help them fill their leisure time and arrange some local contacts.


Planning and materials

It´s important that the work that is to be done during the project is planned carefully. This planning should be discussed with the volunteers at the start of the project, so they know what is expected of them. Also, it´s helpful if the volunteers are informed about the projects aims and background.

Everyday work can be divided over volunteers in short, daily work meetings. Of course it is very important to have (building-) materials and tools available when the volunteers are at the project.

We advise to think about alternative work that can be done by the volunteers if the planned work can´t take place due to unforeseen events or weather conditions.


The project responsible is expected to:

  • Make sure there is enough work for the volunteers for 7 to 8 hours every weekday.
  • Have a work plan
  • Coordinate the project and provide sufficient material to work with
  • Take care of accommodation, meals and transport for the volunteers
  • Inform the volunteers about the projects aims and background
  • Make sure the volunteers feel welcome


For information, you can contact us at IBO-Nederland.

To apply for volunteer support: download the application form.