Why Must I Pay to Volunteer?

As a private, non-profit organization independent from government and religious funding, Global Volunteers’ programs are financed almost entirely by volunteer contributions. This is important because our community partners cannot afford the “open market” costs of the services and materials we provide.

Tax-deductible service program fees pays your expenses in the partner community. These include your food, lodging, work site transportation, program materials, team leadership, emergency evacuation insurance, and administrative costs. In addition, we provide supplemental financing to help meet our host’s many, on-going and special needs. But you benefit as well if you’re a U.S. taxpayer, because your service program fee and related expenses, such as air fare, are tax-deductible.

“The fees ensure the comfort and safety you pay for: extensive pre-trip reading materials, someone to escort you from the airport, security when using public transportation in high risk areas, on-site training, hotel accommodation, prepared meals, a volunteer coordinator on-site at all times, assistance dealing with local officials, etc. As well, Global Volunteers will use part of your program fee to pay for supplies donated to the hospital, school, or community being served.”  Charity Guide, now volunteermatch.org

Allocating Your Service Program Fee

Ninety-seven percent of our funding comes from tax-deductible service program fees. These service program fees support community development projects and cover your on-site volunteering expenses, including:

  • Food: Three meals per day and purified or bottled water.
  • Accommodations: Culturally appropriate hotels, guest houses and community centers.
  • Ground Transportation: Airport transfers and community project transportation.
  • Team Leadership: Global Volunteers staff or volunteer team leaders,  plus needed consultants.
  • Project Materials: Resources to complete or sustain community projects on each team.
  • Program Coordination: The costs for project start-up and management, 24-hour emergency phone contact with U.S. staff, community evaluation visits and exploration, team orientation materials, volunteer preparation, individual emergency evacuation insurance and supplemental medical insurance for programs outside the USA, international staff training, and host communications.
  • Administration: Office overhead and logistical support.

Not covered in the service program fee: Airfare or other travel to the site, visas, free-time expenses, alcoholic beverages, and trip cancellation insurance.

How Experts Assess the Value of Service Program Fees:

  • Orientation. Including reading material as well as on-site orientation on local culture, history and customs.
  • Logistics. Providing an important connection to the culture and a first-hand view of social influences.
  • Safety net. Ensuring logistical and emotional support.
  • Clear expectations. Defining your responsibilities in the host community.
  • Affordability. Traveling to a country on your own vs. the cost of participating in a program,
    “You might be surprised by how little the difference in cost is.”
    – LeAnn Joy Adam, former Overseas Resource Coordinator at Stanford University

What Else Do I Have to Pay For?

Your airfare or other travel to the site, visas, free-time expenses, alcoholic beverages, and trip cancellation insurance aren’t included in the service program fee.  In addition, if you prefer a private room, where available, you will pay a single-room option fee. Details explained below:

Single Room Option and Fee

Our volunteer lodging is generally budgeted for double-occupancy accommodation in hotels and guest houses. As a courtesy, we make available an option for single occupancy, on a first-requested basis, where and when it’s available in the same manner as in the tourist industry. Please note that a single room can be costly, depending upon the base hotel room charge and the added cost for the displaced individual in this arrangement. Private rooms are possible only when such arrangements don’t raise the cost of lodging for the entire team. Not all accommodations can provide this option for you.

Calculating the single room option fee:
The fee for each program is calculated up to a year in advance, based upon historical numbers of single room requests for the specific accommodations. This fee combines the difference between single and double room charges, and the added cost for the single room of the displaced volunteer, based on our negotiated lodging contract. When setting the single room option fee for a contract period, we anticipate the likely number of single rooms, and are unable to re-negotiate these fees after they are set.

Availability of single occupancy rooms:
Sometimes, the team configuration will produce a “default” single room which may be offered to volunteers in order of registration. However, no guarantees are promised until the program begins. Late volunteer cancellations/additions and hotel capacity can change up to check-in. The only way to secure a private room is to request one at the time you register for your program. If you cancel your place on a team within 60 days of departure, standard refund policies apply, minus single room cancellation fees assessed by the hotel.