Why paying to Volunteer

Below is an excerpt from a book on international volunteering that helps to explain the necessity of this fee. How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Oversea.

Prospective volunteers are surprised to learn that many programs charge their volunteers a fee to participate. At first, this can seeem ridiculous -Why should you pay money to work for free? Aren’t you already forgoing income you could be making? Here are a few things to keep in mind while trying to understand why the vast majority of programs charge international volunteers a participation fee:

The local organizations and projects with which you volunteer overseas have limited resources and are seldom able to subsidize your trip or cover the costs of hosting you. (These costs include housing, feeding and transporting you, etc.)
Developing rewarding volunteer placement and working with them is time-consuming, takes resources, and requires an experienced and professional staff.

The process of preparing, training, transporting, housing, feeding, and supervising volunteers is not cheap.
The costs of recruiting volunteers, producing literature, answering the phones, sending mailings, developing a website, and interviewing potential volunteers are significant.
If the ground organization had the money in the first place it will be much easier to pay a local staff.


  • Preparation & interview before departure
  • Cultural activities and induction seminar
  • On-going support and supervision
  • Certificate of participation
  • Accomodation
  • Feeding
  • Airport pickup


  • Visa processing charges (volunteers are responsible for aquiring the necessary Visa)
  • International airfare
  • Any required vaccinations or immunizations
  • Local transportation