Paying money for voluntary work? And then even that much? Many of us might have felt like that: we were motivated to volunteer, willing to sacrifice time and energy, but then we got shocked by the high costs of different volunteer opportunities which are offered abroad. The ones who then don´t turn away disillusioned either have saved enough money, or they got some family members supporting them, or they have the time and ambition to look by themselves for a project on the ground.
The reason behind the costs
We might wonder why non-profit (!) organizations charge so much money for volunteering, since we assume that they should not generate any profit. One of the main reasons is probably that many of the organizations would not be able to do their work at all without this income: on the one hand they often cover room & board costs for the volunteers and on the other hand they pay administrative costs such as salaries of employees. With this income however, they are hopefully able to do their work professionally and if everything works as it should, most of the money ends up where it is needed the most- with the kids, local communities, environmental projects, etc. After all fund-raising for non-profit organizations is even in so called “rich” countries nowadays quite hard, as there is already a competitive market of non-profit organizations trying to convince public and private sponsors or donors of their projects.
Is there a cheaper way?
Which option you finally choose is very personal. For the ones of you who prefer the whole package including logistics, having fun with other volunteers, security and everything you might need, and if you are also able to raise the necessary money for that*, then we simply recommend to do a critical research on the different organizations which offer those volunteering-packages. Raising questions to them, checking references and third opinions can help to find out what they actually use your money for.
Another option is to look by yourself for a project where you only need to cover your own costs. As stated before, you might need some time and commitment and maybe you even need a bit of courage and a sociable/outgoing personality to find local projects, contact persons and organizations directly in your destination. This way however you get to know the people and ideas behind the projects personally and you are also more flexible, being able to choose for example your accommodation yourself.
After all, our platform offers you some examples for both options and we always try to update them through critical researches, references, testimonials and alternative ideas.
* For those of you, who cannot cover the costs themselves, but are committed enough to organize themselves for raising funds for their volunteering-trip, we would like to give you some ideas for fund-raising projects in another post of us. We are also looking forward to hearing from you with additional ideas & experiences!