Step 1: Create your EMI account.

Your EMI account is a passport to serving with EMI. Providing up-to-date professional, volunteer, and contact information in your EMI account will help us match you with a volunteer opportunity that’s the right fit. Create or update your EMI account.


Q: Why should I join an EMI Project Trip instead of just donating money?
A: We believe God has called design professionals to be personally involved in His work of restoration in people and their communities and so EMI is a place where you are invited not just to give, but also to go. Take the opportunity to use your God-given gifts and talents to serve people and be part of God’s mission. Discipleship means personal involvement, and long-lasting impact comes from the personal interactions during project trips.

Q: Can I talk with someone about EMI?
A: The EMI Network is a forum on LinkedIn where you can find current & former EMI staff, interns, and volunteers, perhaps some near you, who have been involved with EMI. Find out about connecting with the EMI Network here.

Q: How can I join the mailing list or be informed about future projects?
A: You can set these and other communication preferences in your EMI account.

Q: How does a volunteer pay for joining a project trip or other event?
A: Volunteers can pay for trips or events online or by mailing a cheque. Some EMI volunteers pay for their costs out-of-pocket, or are sponsored in full or in part by their company. Some raise financial support through churches or other organisations, family, or friends. EMI is a non-profit organisation, so many volunteer expenses are tax-deductible, if applicable at that EMI location.

Q: I don’t have the funds to travel. Can I still serve with EMI or volunteer from home?
A: Besides raising financial support to cover your volunteer expenses, sometimes there are opportunities to volunteer part-time at an EMI office if you are located nearby. Additionally, sometimes there are projects where EMI is looking for at-home help from a volunteer to do design work or review design work. In those cases, however, the EMI Project Leader will normally want an at-home volunteer to have had travelled on an EMI trip before. You can comment on your specific situation in your EMI account.

Q: Can a Christian of any denomination be an EMI volunteer?
A: EMI partners with all ministries of all Christian denominations and backgrounds, and all volunteers ready to serve and participate with ministries and team members from various Christian denominations and backgrounds are welcome.

Q: I’m not a Christian / Believer – can I be an EMI volunteer?
A: Yes, depending on the opportunity. To fulfil EMI’s mission, certain volunteer positions will need to be filled by a Christian / Believer. In all cases, volunteers must be willing to be full part of the EMI team they are joining and participate in / be present for daily activities such as devotions and prayer.

Q: Will I be asked to share my faith or evangelize as an EMI volunteer?
A: When an EMI team goes to serve a Christian ministry, that ministry will often invite or offer opportunities to EMI teams to participate or be involved in the activities they lead. Most often this will mean sharing a scripture or devotion during a staff meeting, a kids programme, or in the church they lead, etc. This level of participation is normally voluntary. Additionally, EMI team members will be invited to share their journey of faith with each other or to pray for each other within a team. This level of participation is normally expected. For most volunteers, the main opportunity to share their faith is with their friends, relatives, and colleagues. People will wonder why you would invest your time and resources to join a team of professionals you haven’t worked with before to help people you don’t know in the developing world. This is your opportunity to share the love of Christ in your relationships and circle of influence.

Q: What are the EMI criteria for taking on a project?
A: EMI has a thorough project approval process to do what is possible to ensure the investment of time and resource by volunteers is worthwhile. You can find more about how ministries engage EMI for Technical Assistance.

Q: Who pays for and builds the projects?
A: EMI does not fund or fundraise for any project. The Christian ministry EMI is assisting is responsible for project funding and fundraising. Often, EMI design material will be used in the process to gain project funding.

Q: Do the projects actually get built?
A: Christian ministries rarely have full-funding for their projects when they approach EMI for assistance. EMI’s intention is to partner with ministries who are in position to build their project, though we cannot control or guarantee this. Sometimes construction starts as soon as the EMI team completes design, most often there is a waiting period while the ministry gains internal and external approvals and raises the funds needed for construction. This waiting period could be 1 or 2 years or up to 10 years. From past experience, we estimate that:

  • 25% of EMI projects have been built as designed
  • 25% of EMI projects have been built mostly as designed
  • 25% of EMI projects have been built with significant design changes
  • 25% of EMI projects have not been built because of various reasons, including:
    • Changes in ministry leadership or direction
    • Changes in property status or location
    • Changes to ministry status or operation in the country

View some of EMI’s completed projects in our Project Portfolio.

Q: How do I join an EMI Project Trip?
A: The first step is to create your EMI account. More than the basic contact information, tell us about your professional experience and discipline so we can help match you with the right project. Then, browse the upcoming project trips and express interest in a trip. The EMI Project Leader will follow up with you to determine how your skills might fit with the team and the project scope. If you accept the Project Leader’s invitation to join the team, you will be registered for the trip and can start preparing to go. Browse our upcoming trips.

Q: Where can I find more about trips and the technical qualifications needed?
A: For a trip overview and information about trip costs and volunteer technical qualifications, visit the About Trips page.

Q: Do I need to be a licensed / chartered professional to volunteer with EMI?
A: Not necessarily, though this may be required for some opportunities. Generally, three years of well-rounded experience in your field will help prepare you to volunteer with EMI. Sometimes a project trip has space for volunteers with less experience to support a senior professional. The Project Leader will let you know how you might contribute to the team if you express interest in the project.

Q: How technical is EMI design?
A: Browse our work samples to see the level of detail at different scope levels and for various disciplines here.

Q: Do I need to bring any special equipment?
A: You need to bring enough equipment to do your preliminary work at the project site. However, discuss the equipment needs with your Project Leader. They will know what equipment is available from EMI and what you need to bring. This is especially important for surveyor volunteers.

Q: Can I bring my spouse on a trip?
A: Many times a volunteer is able to bring their spouse on a trip. There are many factors to be considered and the Project Leader will decide whether the ministry / team size could accommodate spouses. Mention this as you express interest in a trip and the Project Leader will advise you.

Q: What is expected of me after an EMI Project Trip?
A: You are expected to complete your portion of the project design in a timely manner. This portion will be outlined by your Project Leader before the trip. At-home hours required after the trip will range between 1-80 hours depending on your discipline, the project scope, and the EMI location you serve with.

Q: Can I earn Continuing Education Credit hours through volunteering with EMI?
A: In the United States, EMI offers architects, engineers, and surveyors across the country the ability to earn Continuing Education Credit Hours during their project trip experience. Get more information.

Q: Will I be travelling alone to join a project trip?
A: As much as possible, EMI Project Leaders organise travel so that the entire team will travel together. Often this means meeting in an airport for an international journey or in the nearest major city before travelling with the client to a project site.

Q: How are travel arrangements made?
A: Normally, EMI will make travel arrangements on your behalf to coordinate with the team.

Q: Will I need to get my own visa to travel to the destination country?
A: The Project Leader will inform you about any visas required, and how and where to apply if needed. Some destination countries will grant a visa-on-arrival for certain nationalities, in other cases, you will need to have a visa in your passport in advance of travel. For some countries, this can be done via mail in a week. For other countries, the process can be longer and might require a personal invitation letter from the ministry you will be visiting and a personal interview at the consulate with jurisdiction in your area. To be eligible to receive a visa from most countries, ensure your passport expiration date is at least 6-months after the date of travel. Otherwise, renew your passport as soon as possible.

Q: Can I plan a longer trip with stopovers enroute to the destination country or with extra days before or after the trip in the destination country?
A: Usually, yes. Your Project Leader will advise you on what is possible in coordination with the team schedule / travel. However, EMI will not make your personal travel/tour arrangements, nor will costs for personal travel be eligible for tax-deductible receipts through EMI.

Q: Can I use my airline miles for an EMI trip?
A: Yes, where possible, you can use airline miles instead of purchasing a ticket. The Project Leader will designate where and when to meet the team. You can book reward flight arrangements once your Project Leader has reviewed and approved your reward itinerary.

Q: How much cash will I need to exchange or withdraw for a project trip?
A: Typically volunteers only need money for incidentals and miscellaneous expenses as the Project Leader will cover all costs on behalf of the team. Volunteers need to cover their own costs for extra days they decide to spend in-country before and after a trip. The Project Leader can advise you about cash access and payment methods for the country to which you will be travelling.

Q: Does anyone ever get sick while travelling with EMI?
A: Getting sick on an EMI project is not uncommon with jetlag, diet, and climate changes. Sickness is typically a virus or stomach problems that only last a few days. Your Project Leader will have cared for an ill volunteer before, and will carry basic medications which can be used.

Q: What vaccines, immunizations, or medications will I need to visit the project country?
A: EMI encourages volunteers to seek and follow guidance from their medical professional or government travel clinic for advice about travel to a specific destination country. In some situations, proof of medical protection will be required for entry, such as a valid Yellow Fever shot for certain African countries.

Q: Do I need to learn or speak the local language?
A: Though the majority of EMI’s work is usually in English, knowing the local language is a great advantage. Some EMI locations work in the local language, however, so certain volunteer opportunities will have language prerequisites. In other cases when there is a language barrier, the ministry EMI is assisting will provide a translator. Often times, learning some simple greetings in the language will go a long way in connecting with people.

Q: When does EMI cancel a trip for safety reasons?
A: The EMI locations involved in planning a trip will take into consideration travel notices / warnings published by governments. If your government has published a travel notice / warning about the destination country, notify your Project Leader. Generally, EMI depends on the advice of people on the ground – whether EMI staff or the Christian ministry to be visited. They are in touch with the situation in the specific locations to be visited, and often have a sensitivity to local factors that are not broad enough to be considered at a government travel advisory level.