TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE: Volunteers Catalyze Reform

  • IMPACT Highlights

Practicing professionals with decades of experience in highly specific fields volunteer for short, consecutive assignments that build on one another in a step-by-step approach.


Volunteer peer advisors are transforming institutions and organizations around the globe. These highly qualified professionals are selected for expertise that directly matches organizational needs.

As fellow practitioners, they quickly establish credibility which helps beneficiaries accept and implement their recommendations. The lasting contributions of volunteers, who frequently provide ongoing mentoring, are transforming institutions by increasing government transparency, reducing corruption, strengthening financial systems and supporting much needed reforms to increase domestic resource mobilization.

The collapse of large-scale Ponzi schemes in Albania in 1997 precipitated protracted violence that toppled the government, killed at least 2,000 people and marked the collapse of Albania’s financial system. How could Albanian banks assure citizens that their money would be safe going forward?

With assistance from VEGA member Financial Services Volunteer Corps, a stream of highly specialized volunteers has been building and advising Albania’s financial sector regulators to equip them to conduct internal audits, detect money laundering and emerging credit problems, insure deposits and manage risk.

Restoring trust in the financial sector benefits all Albanians and the global financial sector as a whole, reducing risk of contagion from international financial crises

Capacity building dollars will not make a difference until people are prepared to move away from old practices. Topdown programs throw seeds into soil that is not fertile. ICMA prepares the soil by showing a better way.
– Bryan Montgomery, volunteer


Volunteer experts, fielded from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) current and former staff, were fielded to provide critical assistance to launch the Albanian Deposit Insurance Agency (ADIA). They continue to work to improve the quality and consistency of Albanian financial regulation and supervision, and guide the new agency. ADIA now participates in the International Association of Deposit Insurers, which sets global standards for deposit insurance.

By consistently fielding volunteers from FDIC, the program has built solid relationships and sustainable linkages between Albanian regulators and the FDIC. For reasons of cost and access, the Bank of Albania was unlikely to develop a relationship with FDIC on its own; now they have a relationship, and a channel for ongoing assistance after the program ends.

RELATED Projects

National Budget Strengthening: Through the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, volunteer Phyllis Resnick, an economist at Colorado State University, has advised finance ministries in Jordan and Tunisia to help develop transparent budget processes. She showed how clear and detailed processes would educate the public and help attract foreign assistance and investment.

Her guidance has been well received and is being implemented in both countries. Most recently, she advised finance ministry staff in Angola — where citizens have very little information about how public funds are spent — on allocating decision-making power to local government while increasing transparency of expenditures, revenues and budget formulation.

Local Government Strengthening: Local government practitioners sourced through VEGA Member International City/County Management Association (ICMA) are advising their peers in Mexico as they professionalize local government and change entrenched systems of favoritism and corruption.

Bryan Montgomery, City Manager of Oakley, California, has volunteered multiple times to provide presentations and classes for mayors, one-on-one advice and diagnostic assessments, and help elected leaders understand local government functions. “These volunteer efforts,” he says “are truly transforming how local government services are provided in Mexico.”

“…it was interesting to see [the folks at the Tunisian Ministry of Finance] transition from a position of ‘We’re not really sure this is possible’ to believing ‘This might actually work’ — to have local governments that are empowered and effective and functional.”
– Phyllis Resnick (pictured here, far right, in Jordan), volunteer