We often get questions regarding why there is a program fee for Teach Abroad Volunteer programs when applicants are going to donate their time. If volunteers don’t get paid, why should they have to pay to participate?
This is certainly a valid question and while we would love if all programs could be free, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that does carry a cost to make these programs possible. Plus, working with a program provider has its benefits!
Organizing volunteer opportunities costs money
Whether it’s a not-for-profit company, a non-governmental organization, or a charity - it costs money to organize and run different programs and volunteer opportunities locally and worldwide. Not only does organizing the entire volunteer project cost money, but so do you!
When you pay a fee to volunteer through a reputable program provider, you are paying for the confidence of protection against the unknown. Your fee helps to cover the operating costs needed to pay employees, engage local resources, provide transportation and more to ensure your volunteer experience goes off without a hitch.
While volunteering abroad, you’ll probably be part of an orientation or welcome event. Program fees often go towards these events, including hotel room rentals, meals, and transportation -- from the airport to the hotel, and then to your volunteer placement. Sometimes local families host volunteers during their stay and while some are paid, others often volunteer themselves in order to experience a firsthand cultural exchange. English language learning is a big part of volunteering abroad, and families regularly look to engage the native speakers any way they can -- whether it’s for their own personal practice or to expose their children to something new and educational. You’ll often see varying program fees depending on what costs will need to be covered during your time abroad.
Going through established companies that have a program fee to volunteer also bring the benefits of having in-country staff to turn to in case of emergency, international health coverage, and even pre-departure advice to help you prepare for your experience abroad.
Benefits of volunteering abroad with a program provider
Traveling to a new place and visiting for a few days or even a couple weeks doesn’t always give you the experience of really getting involved in a new community. You can explore neighborhoods, visit museums, and dine at local mom-and-pop restaurants -- but how much have you really experienced of the community around you?
By volunteering, for a week, a month, or a year, you give yourself the opportunity to really dive down to the nitty gritty. You not only get to give back, but you also get to learn about the community and culture, all the while developing meaningful relationships with the people you’re working with.
When you decide to pursue the adventure of volunteering abroad, you will also meet other people who have also felt the need to give back in a global way.
Instead of trying to convince your uninterested friends to volunteer with you, why not take on the adventure and meet others who have done the same? You’ll be grateful for having this shared experience with new friends who also wanted to experience something new while making a difference through their efforts.
While volunteering through an organization is not always the best option for everybody, it is definitely a great way to travel, experience new cultures, and know that you’ll be supported while giving back abroad. There are many opportunities around the world, it’s up to you to find the one that’s calling your name.