Do you think it is fair to pay for volunteering? - TravelPUNK Backpacker College Student Budget Travel Message Boards!



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Studying, Living, Working, Volunteering Abroad, Expats Currently or planning on studying abroad, living abroad, working abroad, and volunteering abroad. Expats talk for all of you Huck Finn's out there. You rebels with a without a cause. Summer travel is child's play to you.

View Poll Results:
Yes 10 31.25%
No 15 46.88%
Undecided 7 21.88%
Voters: 32. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-01-2006, 08:17 AM   #1
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Hi everyone! With so many companies around offering volunteering placements overseas, I was just wondering: how many of you thought it was fair to have to pay for the opportunities they have available?
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:05 PM   #2
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I went with undecided. If it is a true volunteer organization then it is possible to be fair to charge. If they provide (not arrange, PROVIDE) accomodation, food, transport, etc then it can be fair. On that note, I would explore how much it really cost for that on your own and compare.

I personally wouldn't pay to volunteer outside of those specs. I think paying in my own time and sweat is more than enough. If I wanted to give money I can do that from right here.

My 2 cents...

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Old 08-01-2006, 05:31 PM   #3
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hmmmm....i went with no, but it's a hard question to answer, volunteer work is a very sensitive topic.

My theory is that if they are truly trying to do something good for a community, with the support of that community, they will not try to make money off those that are willing to help. Sure, you may have to pay for your own food and accomodation (although, like Foo said, the work you do should cover that), but paying for anything more is just rediculous.

If they are willing to try and make money off tourists for "volunteer" work, then i would wonder if it was just some money making scheme instead of a true volunteer program to benefit a community. I think a lot of the volunteer programs out there do not really provide many, if any, benefits to the community they are supposedly helping. They are more about some dude making money by charging tourists to build some useless building in a community that doesn't even have running water, just so that tourist can beef up their resume a bit. I think that the money spent on these sorts of projects could be utilized in a much more effective way.

Like i said, it's a sensitive topic, and not nearly as black and white as people may think.

Sorry to anyone i have offended.
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Old 08-01-2006, 09:08 PM   #4
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I grew up with my dad being the business director for an NPO outside of chicago. Granted it was a christian youth camp but when people came to volunteer for us, we housed them and fed them as a show of gratitude.

Personally I think this whole business of paying the companies and then on top of that, paying your own room and board to volunteer is ridiculous. I know for a fact I will never do it. If i wish to volunteer someplace then I will volunteer there and take care of my own room and board and all that but I will not pay them on top of it.
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Old 08-02-2006, 08:49 AM   #5
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I went for yes because in most of the cases ive researched they provide free accommodation, so as long as they are asking for a reasonable amount then its fair i reckon.

I have researched companies that ask for anything between 150EURO a week to 1,000EURO a week so i would be a lot more sceptical about the companies asking for the higher level
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Old 08-02-2006, 01:43 PM   #6
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I wanted to volunteer in Peru this summer, but it cost $3000 to go for a month. I think thatīs crazy, it includes room and board, but Iīm pretty sure it doesnīt cost that much a month to live in Lima. And work for free. Iīm sure it would be a great experience though! I looked at a few different companies but they were all around the same price.
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Old 08-03-2006, 02:52 AM   #7
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I could see how there'd be administrative costs, if they have a website and need to conect to that website from remote locations that's going to cost money but it should be minimal if they get allot of people going.
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Old 08-03-2006, 01:57 PM   #8
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At the end of the day a lot fo the funds are used to help fund the charity. If you go volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal, where do you suppose the money comes from to feed the kids? A lot of it comes from the fees you pay. I agree that the posibility exists that some agencies may be skimming some of these funds and that is why it pays to do your homework, but at the end of the day, they are looking to attract funding, not just labor.
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Old 08-05-2006, 10:35 AM   #9
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it depends entirely on what you're getting for your money...if they're obviously doing it to make profits, and said profits are obviously not being reinvested into the work you're doing, then forget it.

otherwise, if it's designed to cover expenses, materials, room and board, etc, then it's obviously worth it.

it's extremely difficult to do development-type work and it takes a lot of money. that's why NGOs often work with governments to accept massive grants from governmental organizations while accepting provisos such as putting signs or other such things from said governments on the projects they finish.

so it makes sense to me that they charge nominal fees. just shop around and make sure these fees are reasonable depending on the work you're doing (building stuff might carry a higher fee since the fees probably go to getting building materials as well as housing for volunteers, whereas teaching might not be as expensive. use common sense, mostly.)

also, just remember that a good volunteer position in tandem with the usual suspects (bachelor's degree, foreign language) will make your resume gold-plated.
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Old 08-05-2006, 11:10 AM   #10
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Some places overcharge, but I do understand why it is sometimes necessary for the volunteer to pay. Also, with the up front cost they also weed out most of the people who are doing it for all the wrong reasons!
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Old 08-06-2006, 04:29 AM   #11
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I voted undecided.

In a lot of cases, the money people pay to volunteer there is one of the few sources of income for a project. I understand that they ask you, being a 'rich' person, to donate money to the projects besides just work.

I think it's wrong that these agencies make loads of money off people. I actually know people who work for like working holidays companies, and they earn A LOT of money from their job. So that's where your money goes to, also.
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Old 08-07-2006, 03:28 PM   #12
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It's a really tough question and something I've been researching for months (volunteering abroad). It's much harder to find an organization that you don' t have to pay for/pays you than the other way around. Volunteering abroad and volunteer vacations have become quite trendy. People say they want to go to Africa for 2 weeks to help starving kids and pay a fee for some program and boom. They go, they're done. Everyone's happy.

The thing is, most of these places are low/non profit (the actualy organization you're working for, not the one organizing). It is not cost efficient for them to pay for someone to come "volunteer" for a few weeks. Especially, if its organized through a third party. There's housing costs, food costs, transportation, administration, etc.

At the same time, a LOT of the places that set these up give very little money to the actual organization. What they're doing is something you could do (ie set it up) for little - no costs if you look hard enough/do enough research. You probably won't get food/housing paid for/may have to contribure a minimal amount to it, but it's a small price in comparison to $2000 plus flight.

If you're wanting to go for a long term opportunity - check local job ads and also, get involved with local international NP/NGOs. There are plenty that have small chapters in the States that can give you an opportunity to volunteer abroad long term. Also, consider the Peace Corps, Americorps (locations in Puerto Rico, Guam, America Somoa and the Virgin Islands) and also the UN if you're over 25 and have special skills/education. Working Your Way Around the World is a great book also.

So, to answer your question: if you want to go for a short amount of time/have minimal personal investment aside from when you're there, yes, its totally okay to pay because people who act on your behalf have more resources than you and there are financial investments on your behalf. If you want something to get involved with long term, do some research on organizations in your community that have international branches/do int'l work and get involved with them, or contact an organization like stated above.
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:33 PM   #13
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I voted yes. Most organizations I've been looking into charge a 'placement fee' usually between $100 and $300. This covers room and board for the term of one's stay. However, most have a minimum time requirement, ex. 6 months. I also don't like these volunteering holidays that are around....it's much cheaper just to up and go rather than arrange everything and pay 5x as much.
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