Unlike any “regular” job, volunteering is generally a form of offering one’s skills, knowledge and time FOR FREE. Add to that the expenses typically involved in volunteering abroad (flights, insurance etc.) and you may be left wondering why many of the organizations listed on our platform are actually asking for fees from their prospective volunteers. Don’t get me wrong – I totally get you. The thought of flying across the world to volunteer your time and skills does not instinctively go down with also having to pay the organization you’ll soon be helping. To set matters straight, here are a few quick points that may help you better understand why GivingWay is all about volunteers paying their end-organization.
Your stay at the organization uses up resources.
Many volunteer organizations offer volunteers to stay at their facilities. Whether it be a home stay or a room at a volunteer house, there are obvious expenses which go into making your stay comfortable. Water, electricity, internet, food, and even some Western amenities – all of these are resources spent on your stay, that otherwise the organization would not have to spend. Of course you are bringing your skills and time, for free, but understand that at the same time you’d be using other costly resources that would not have otherwise been spent by the organization. Thus, asking volunteers to cover these expenses is extremely reasonable.
Your money can help advance ongoing activities and projects after you leave.
One of the biggest hopes volunteers have when they near the end of their volunteer trip is to know that their time was well spent; that their efforts and hard work will leave a mark even after they have already returned home. Sometimes, volunteers are able to further promote and advance projects that are already running, while others initiate new projects with the skills and knowledge that they bring with them. In any case, these projects require various resources in order to continue – whether it be the people to work on them, the tools and materials that are used, or the space itself needed for the project. These things require money. The money you provide when you volunteer may very well help cover the expenses of these projects so that they can continue to move forward, even after you’ve already left.
Your stay has added expenses to the general activities of the organization.
To many it may seem like “little things” that could easily be overlooked, but they shouldn’t be. From the individual who met you at the airport to drive you to the organization site, to another who showed you around and made sure you are set with everything you’ll be doing. Some organizations even prepare orientation days and pamphlets to make sure volunteers are best situated. Many times, organizations even offer weekend excursions to show you around and make sure some extra fun is also had on your trip. Once again – all of these are added expenses due to your stay. While the organization would like to make sure your arrival is welcoming and your time is enjoyable, these aren’t expenses they can generally take on, which is why your fees are totally helpful in such instances as well.
Because it will help.
Ultimately, most grassroots community-based/charity organizations run on a shoestring budget and are inviting volunteers to help simply because they can’t afford to pay people to work. They are working long and hard to make some remarkable changes in their communities, and it isn’t an easy job. There are countless hurdles and hardships that are continuously popping up. Bottom line, they could totally use the money.
So yeah, it may seem a little surprising at first when an organization for whom you will spend a few weeks or months working for asks to be paid, but hopefully these few points can help in understanding the logic behind it.