Serve Smart

Prepare Your Volunteers for Effective Service


Visit and enter "Deep Discount" at checkout for 60% off!
Preparing Volunteers for Effective Service

It's All About Cultural Intelligence

Making lasting change in the world requires working effectively with those we seek to serve. Success rests upon cultural intelligence - our ability to collaborate effectively with people from other cultures. Serve Smart's training is designed to equip you with these essential cultural intelligence skills so that you are best prepared to make a difference.

What participants are saying

“This workshop helped me to think about volunteering as a partner with the communities that I serve rather than as a provider”
—Bethany De Turk, Workshop Participant
See here for more participants feedback
Vanesha Manuturi Endorses Serve Smart Cultural Intelligence Training

I'd like to explore Serve Smart for my organization

We're looking forward to hearing fro you. Please fill out the contact form here.


Q: Is this only for international service? -Juju
A: Hi Juju, Serve Smart teaches participants how to partner effectively with people different from themselves. It is highly relevant for domestic and international service alike.

Q: What will Serve Smart teach my volunteers? -Paco

A: Hi Paco, The 3hr. training delves into the following aspects of cultural intelligence.
  • Knowing Self: We need to know what we bring to the table if we are going to be effective in a service environment. In this hour, you will gain awareness of how social identities and values shape your perceptions and how to manage triggers and biases.
  • Knowing Others: Understanding where others are coming from is essential for effective cross-cultural collaboration. In this hour, you'll learn proven techniques for discerning and working with other people's perspectives.
  • Leading Together: We can only make change that lasts by working together. Building upon the first two hours, this hour teaches your team how to share leadership effectively across cultural differences.

Q: My volunteers have good intentions
—isn't that all they need to make a difference? -Jared
A: Dear Jared, It used to be acceptable to only focus on our actions, such as "I gave $500 to charity" or "I volunteered 100 hours." In the past 20 years, however, people have begun to ask hard questions about results, like "What did your work accomplish?" and "How do you know?" Looking into these questions, it turns out that a lot of what we've been doing as service hasn't been very effective. See here and here for the tip of the iceberg. It takes a lot of skill to make lasting change, especially in a community different than one's own. This is why we founded Serve Smart, because we want to support your people in translating their good intentions into positive results.
-Serve Smart

Q: We're going to serve in Mexico—will this training tell us how to get a tourist visa or how to say hello in Spanish? -Kim
A: ¡Hola Kim! Serve Smart builds your teammates' cultural intelligence so that they can collaborate effectively with people from other cultures. The skills are valuable in any domestic or international cross-cultural service situation, as opposed to being country or region specific. Our assumption is that program staff are best positioned to handle geographic specifics and logistics. -Serve Smart

Q: Taught face-to-face or remotely in realtimeWhat does that mean? -Claire

A: Greetings Claire! Serve Smart is an interactive workshop which combines small and large group discussion and individual reflection. If you're in Seattle, we can work with your group face-to-face. If not, cool technology lets us do interactive workshops remotely so your members will just need to have a telephone and internet connections. -Serve Smart

Q: Why is this free? -Michael

A: Great question, Michael! We've run a few successful pilots, but we're still developing and refining our workshops so offering them for free gives us a chance to keep learning. -Serve Smart

I want to bring Serve Smart to my organization

We're looking forward to hearing fro you. Please fill out the contact form here.

About Serve Smart

Born out of a desire to create lasting change in the world, Serve Smart provides cultural intelligence training to difference makers. Our team has extensive experience creating lasting change in cross-cultural contexts and preparing others for effective service. One of our founders, Ryan Richards, MPA, majored in International Development, spent two years managing volunteers for Guatemala's Asturias Academy, and then another two leading Nourish International, an international non-profit organization which prepared university students to address global poverty through partnerships and social entrepreneurship. Serve Smart is a start-up housed within Lasting Change LLC, and we are eager to hear your feedback and learn about potential partnerships.