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.
Your service program fee pays your expenses in the host 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.
Here’s how Charity Guide explains the purpose of a service program fee:
“Volunteers are asked to pay for their own travel expenses, and even non-profit agencies need to be reimbursed for recruiting costs, volunteer training, and on-site coordination. Volunteer vacation program fees range from $950 to $3,000+, depending on the agency’s degree of involvement and the accommodation provided. Volunteer vacation program fees are relatively small when accommodation is “basic”, such as a tent in a national park, and when volunteers prepare their own meals. At the other extreme, program fees charged by organizations such as Global Volunteers can be as high as a few thousand dollars. But, in return for higher fees comes 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.”
LeAnn Joy Adam described the benefits of paying a program fee to volunteer when she worked as the Overseas Resource Coordinator at Stanford University:
- Orientation. Including important pre-departure reading material as well as on-site orientation on local culture, history and customs.
- Arranged accommodations. Providing an important connection to the culture and a first-hand view of social and political events in the country.
- A safety net. Staff to provide logistical and emotional support.
- Clear expectations. Your responsibilities (in the host community) are clear and well-defined.
- Affordability. When you calculate the difference between traveling to a country on your own and the cost of participating in a program, you might be surprised by how little the difference is.