Converting your annual holiday into an exciting and constructive experience!


Leave for Change® is a corporate volunteering initiative that enables employees from participating organizations to transform part of their annual vacation into a 3 to 4 week volunteer assignment in a developing country. Employers invest in the development of their human resources and demonstrate leadership in corporate social responsibility. Employees put their knowledge and skills to work in an international development project, expand their personal and professional horizons and acquire a deeper understanding of broader global issues.

Check out our Leave for Change® volunteers' blogs:


Why participate

Everybody wins!

  • Employers invest in the development of their human resources, thereby strengthening their competitiveness in Canada’s evolving work-force. They also demonstrate leadership in corporate social responsibility at international and local levels. Public recognition and employees morale increase as a result.
  • Employees expand their personal and profes-sional horizons and acquire a deeper understanding of international development.
  • Both contribute in a rapid and tangible way to a results-driven development project.
  • Partner organizations in developing countries acquire valuable skills and working tools.

"Abbott has been a proud Leave for Change partner since 2005, the introduction of this international volunteer program fits perfectly with one of Abbott's core values "caring". This program has allowed Abbott Canada to take corporate citizenship to another level and to demonstrate that commitment to our values by offering employees this unique opportunity. Abbott Canada employees have experienced personal growth through this program and shared their experiences at company gatherings where they received standing ovations. Some have on their return, engaged in their own fundraising and all of them felt that in their own way, they have made a difference in someone's life in Africa. Abbott was recognized as a Top 50 Employer for 2006, 2007 and 2008. The Leave for Change program has certainly come through in our company surveys where our employees recognize we are active in the local and the international community."
Laurence L. Dotto
Director, Government & External Affairs, Abbott Canada

Roles and responsibilities

The Employee

  • Provides his/her services without monetary compensation as an international volunteer
  • Volunteers overseas for approximately three to four weeks
  • Participates in two days of pre-departure training
  • Shares his/her knowledge and skills with a local partner during the assignment
  • Communicates his/her experience with co-workers through presentations, newsletter articles, blogs, etc

The Employer

  • Sponsors the employee and allows him/her to share the Leave for Change experience in the workplace
  • Facilitates the volunteer selection process
  • Permits employees to share their Leave for Change experience with co-workers before and after the assignment
  • Contributes an amount that covers part of the costs of each employee assigment


  • Manages the volunteer selection process
  • Provides pre-departure training and covers the following costs: insurance, airfare, and lodging
  • Facilitates the volunteer’s integration into the local partner’s work team
  • Coordinates transportation and other in-field logistics
  • Monitors the well-being and security of the employee
  • With the employer's approval, assists the Leave for Change volunteer with his/her communication activities

How to participate

Interested employer?

Contact us to find out more about sponsoring your employees and becoming a partner of Leave for Change:

Interested employee?

If you are an employee interested in volunteering with Leave for Change, your employer must first enter into an agreement with the program. Put a key resource person in touch with us to explore its potential involvement with Leave for Change by having them contact:


1) What is Leave for Change?

Leave for Change (L4C) is a program that offers professional and personal development to staff while providing strong support to organizations in developing countries. The program enables employees from participating organizations and companies to transform part of their annual vacation into a three to four week volunteer assignment in a developing country. L4C is a component of the Uniterra Program, a leading Canadian international volunteer cooperation program, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented jointly by World University Service Canada (WUSC) and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI).

2) What do Leave for Change volunteers do?

Leave for Change is all about capacity-building. This means volunteers train others in their field of expertise. Volunteers do not act as employees, but as advisors who transfer skills to local staff so as to build their host organization’s capacity in a certain area. Country preferences of volunteers are taken into consideration but we can not guarantee that a volunteer will be sent to his/her preferred country.

3) Can spouses / significant others participate?


4) What type of accommodation is provided?

Accommodations are consistent with local standards. They will be clean and basic.

5) Can I make stopovers to and/or from the country I will be volunteering in? Can I extend my stay? 

Uniterra will issue the airline tickets with no stopovers or extensions built in. The Canadian International Development Agency, which finances the Uniterra program, does not allow volunteers to go in advance of their mandate or to extend their stay in the host country following their mandate. For reasons of security and legal responsibility, volunteers can not make changes to their flight itinerary, even if the volunteer covers the cost of changing their plane ticket. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

6) What are the qualities of the successful volunteer?

Adaptability and the capacity to relate on a human level are key. Volunteers must have the required professional qualifications for their particular posting, but personal qualities and relevant experiences are also very important.

7) To what are participants committing? 

Volunteers commit to giving time and a lot of themselves! Before departure, volunteers must participate in a 2-day training session, generally on a weekend. During their 3-4 week volunteer assignment abroad, volunteers share their knowledge, skills and expertise within a particular project with one of our overseas partners. After their return to Canada, volunteers create their own public engagement activities to raise awareness about the importance of international cooperation. They also take part in debriefings. 

8) Do I have to pay for part of the travel costs?

No, in the majority of cases, you do not have to pay as your employer has accepted to cover part of the costs, and Uniterra covers the rest. Included, among others is: pre-departure training, vaccinations, visas, flights, lodging, food and local travel required for work.

9) In case of accident or disease while I’m abroad, am I insured?

Yes. Uniterra provides all its volunteers with an insurance policy that includes important items such as hospitalization and medical evacuation, reimbursement of medication and vaccinations.

10) Is there an evacuation policy in case of serious problems in the host country? 

Yes. We have an office in each of the countries where Leave for Change assignments take place. There is an emergency protocol established in each country. Uniterra staff in the host country are responsible for assisting volunteers in case of serious social, medical or environmental problems in the host country.

Current openings

The positions advertised here have been developed by the local partner organizations and are part of their capacity-building and organizational development plan. These however represent just a small percentage of the skills and knowledge from which our local partner organizations could benefit. If you do not see a position that matches your skill set, do not be discouraged. You are encouraged to apply anyway during the recruitment period for your employer. On your application form, please include the professional skills that you think you could contribute to our local partner organizations. If you are selected for an interview, the Leave for Change Program Officer will provide you with additional informational about the possible positions that would match your skills and experience.

Leave for Change is seeking volunteers for the following positions :

1) consult the list of priority positions currently open for recruitment

2) consult the list of other areas of expertise by country of intervention ( Please note that the Leave for change team will try first to fill the priority positions).

¿Habla Español? Parlez-vous Français?

Every year, we have a shortage of candidates for mandates in countries which require language skills in French (Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Guinea) or Spanish (Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala), therefore if you speak either of these languages at an intermediate to advanced level, you are encouraged to apply for a position that will allow you to utilize your second-language skills. If you do not see a position in either Latin America or West Africa that matches your skill set, on your application form please include the professional skills that you think you could contribute to our local partner organizations.




October 16, 2014
Uniterra Symposia Series
September 12, 2014
Volunteer your skills and make a difference with Uniterra
June 23, 2014
Toronto Event - June 27
May 26, 2014
Uniterra Leadership Meeting 2014: WUSC Leaders wanted!


on Facebook