The power of people: alumnus global nonprofit serves at-risk population in pandemic
Growing up in Sri Lanka, volunteering was a way of life for Nipuna Ambanpola (’19).
When he moved to Savannah, Georgia, to attend Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus in 2015, he carried that tradition forward with the launch of IVolunteer International, a tech nonprofit with a vision to create a network of 7 billion volunteers worldwide.
Ambanpola, a business economics graduate who served as Student Government Association president, teamed with founding members Tajae Francis (’19), who now works in Georgia Southern’s Alumni Relations, and Tyler D’Alto (’19) in 2017 to make the lofty goal a reality.
Since then, IVolunteer International has empowered thousands of people across the globe to create and connect to social impact projects.
“I believe in the power of the people,” said Ambanpola. “Organizations are great, but IVolunteer International was created to provide tools and resources for individual people to create and connect to volunteer projects in their local communities.”
The group’s newest directive is a partnership with Shopping Angels, a program that offers volunteer food-delivery services to at-risk populations in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has garnered nationwide support and has been featured on CNN, Fox News, “Today” and Global Citizen.
To make the volunteer-matching process faster and more efficient, IVolunteer International developed a webpage that matches volunteers and those who need help automatically via email.
“We partnered with Shopping Angels to provide our expertise to automate their vision, so we can serve more people faster and more efficiently,” said Ambanpola.
Today, Ambanpola, who is pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Georgia, serves as executive director of IVolunteer International and the organization’s liaison to the United Nations Department of Global Communications.
In August, IVolunteer International will release a free mobile app for volunteers, which will identify users’ live locations and connect them to volunteer projects in their local communities. Organizations will be able to open accounts and post projects to attract volunteers and users will be able to sign up for projects, communicate with project hosts and track volunteer hours.
“I believe that individual people can create change, take action and help each other,” said Ambanpola. “At times like these, it is only more important because when entire countries are forced to come to a halt, individual people can still take care of each other and their communities. Volunteering builds resilience.”
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.