Why should I pay for volunteering my time?
This is the most common question we get and we hope to give you an answer.
Paid volunteering started with students taking a gap year but wanted to do a bit more than just travel. The second reason is that most townships and rural villages cannot afford to accommodate, feed and transport volunteers. This led to volunteering organisations being established to fulfil these needs. Booking agencies then formed to place volunteers in these projects.
Volunteering organisations are generally not NGO's and are private companies that offer you accommodation, support, food and transport to the project you will be working in. This obviously costs them money to run and they often need staff to help with the daily admin, cooking and driving.
Southern Africa desperately need the help of capable educated volunteers and your time here can change lives. Please be aware though that short term volunteering can have a negative effect. If you are an inexperienced volunteer then please make sure your project suits you. One example is teaching english, most countries in Southern Africa speak British english and American volunteers can spell and pronounce words differently. This can have a negative effect on the project you are working on.
Be aware and consider your project carefully before deciding.
Volunteering organisations often offer either dorm room style accommodation or private rooms for volunteers. Cleaning staff are quite normal in South Africa and you will often have them helping with household work. This creates long term jobs which benefits the country. Dorm rooms normally start at about R100 and private rooms at about R200. You are often offered a package so you will need to work this out for yourself.
Average expense - R3,000 per month
Organisations sometimes offer cooked meals prepared for you, this is often only dinner with food available for breakfast and lunch. The others will offer self catering facilities where you can prepare your own meals. This will often reduce the price for your volunteering. Again cleaning staff are employed and food needs to be bought and prepared which is part of the cost.
Average expense - R1,000 to R4, 000 per month
This is often the biggest cost for a volunteering organisation because of vehicle maintenance, petrol cost and driver costs. Most organisations will drop you off in the morning and pick you up when you are done. If you consider that most volunteering organisations have more than eight volunteer then this can mean multiple trips per day. This cost is often also included in the package price.
Average expense - R3, 000 to R5, 000 per month
Commission going to booking agencies
Most volunteer booking agencies provide some kind of support for their volunteers. They on average add 15% to the total cost and if they are providing services this can be as high as 50%. If you are a first time volunteer this can be useful but we always recommend you do more research and try and find organisations directly. Return volunteers often know this and contact the volunteer organisation or project directly. You are welcome to email us for organisations that you can book directly with. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Money going to projects
Organisations often cover cost within their projects and do fundraising for materials needed. It is normal for this to be built into to price of your volunteering stay. If you are doing a project you will often need building materials, stationary for schools or sports equipment. We advise that you check with the organisation you will be with on the percentage that goes to the project. There are some projects where almost all the money goes to the project itself and volunteers are funded or paid for by universities.
Expect to pay anything from R5, 000 (about $700) up to R25, 000 (about $3,500) per month. This can be worth it for the work experience especially for teachers, social workers and doctors. Universities can be approached for funding as this can be part of your work experience in your course. Some countries offer funding for social work as an alternative to army training and this can be transferred to third world countries. Wildlife volunteering varies slightly but is ultimately the same in work experience and expenses.
We hope this information has been useful to your in deciding.