Short-term international volunteering has become enormously popular among individuals from high-income countries who travel to low-income countries to offer support on initiatives often related to health and development. However, their impact on global development is questionable, particularly when volunteer skills are not matched to local needs, or when teams operate outside the local health system. Furthermore, the impact of these volunteer programs is rarely evaluated. Theory of Change is a framework for program design meant to facilitate measurable social change. We propose that a Theory of Change framework, appropriately deployed in the design and conduct of short-term international volunteerism, could help improve volunteer efforts by identifying problems and clearly defining goals, designing and implementing effective strategies, and evaluating the real impacts these have on identified concerns.

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