Sorry, did I read that correctly, I have to pay to volunteer?
It’s one of the most common questions we get here at Go Kiwi Go, and it’s not surprising. After all, aren’t you volunteering? Giving your time? Making a difference, and now we’re charging you for it?! Shouldn’t we be thanking you, making it easy for you? Yes, you’re volunteering, and we value your service, time and expertise, without it we couldn’t work with our partners on any projects. Volunteers working for ‘free’ ensure the projects continue; volunteers are the backbone of the projects.
"This was the most valuable experience I’ve ever had while travelling and to be able to just spend 2 weeks (up to 24 weeks) is an easy thing to add into your travels." Megan Singleton, Blogger at Large
So why do I have to pay? The fees volunteers pay help keep the projects running. GKG and its partners are not for profits, that works with not for profits, so without the volunteer fees, the projects wouldn’t exist. Volunteer fees help pay for logistics, training, equipment, accommodation, food, in-country support airport pickups and much more.
By doing this we can work with our partners, to ensure they remain sustainable, while building capacity within the local community through job creation and upskilling.
So what do the fees cover exactly? The fees you pay cover lots of things to ensure you’re able to make a difference. What we don’t want is the costs of volunteering to fall back on communities in need. If you were going on a regular holiday, you’d be paying for everything without a second thought. On your volunteer holiday experience, you get so much more, really making a difference and immersing in the culture.
Training and Resources - Unfortunately, nothing comes for free, we can’t help build schools, provide equipment, or maintain habitats, without the resources to do so, wood, nails, hammers, diving equipment etc. Part of your fee helps provide some of these items. Our partners also ensure that you are trained and ready to participate. Some of the courses, for example diving, mean you get certified.
Orientation – It’s very important that all volunteers are given a thorough orientation, because it’s important for volunteers to understand their role, but also to be able to understand that they’re now in a very different culture, with potentially very different ways of seeing the world. Volunteers need to be well orientated, so they feel comfortable in their new environment.
Global Competence – All volunteers are able to work through a Global Competence certification (GCC). This certificate is done through both online modules, and face to face (or Skype, depending on location), work. The certificate allows people to really understand cultural differences, and how to work effectively in environments that can challenge what you’re used to.
In-Country Assistance – When an overseas trip goes well, it’s great, but even the best laid plans can go wrong. In-country assistance means the project has paid staff who can help you deal with emergencies, or just day to day issues, 24/7.
Qualifications and Work Experience – Besides the Global Competence Certificate (GCC), there are other ways to gain both qualifications and experience, if this’s what you’re looking for. If not, you can just enjoy your experience.
Airport Pickup/DropOff – You may be a first-time traveller, or you may be seasoned, either way, arriving in another country can be overwhelming, and confusing. Is that bus going where I think it is? Is that Taxi charging me the correct amount? How do I navigate my way? Where's my bag? So much better to see a friendly face, who’s there to meet you, and take you where you need to go.
Food & Accommodation – Every trip you take overseas costs money, and often, a lot of that money is for accommodation. If you look at travelling by yourself on a holiday, or to volunteer, it will cost you much more than you’ll pay on these projects. Plus, you get to live with all the other volunteers, which gives you a great opportunity to get to know people from all over the world, who are sharing the same experiences.
Trips and Excursions – In your downtime from volunteering, you’ll be wanting to experience the local area. So, our partners add in extra trips, many as part of the volunteer price. (Some trips do cost extra, depending on the activity.) Some providers like to add in a few optional activities like, weekly Bollywood dancing classes (in India), or trips to local temples (in Thailand and Laos) to help facilitate meaningful cultural exchange and really get you immersed into the local community.
At Go Kiwi Go, we like to think of volunteering as an exchange, you give your time, your energy, your ideas, and your fees, but you also receive; you may be doing something tangible like building, taking samples, helping educate, or any of the other great outcomes, which enable people and communities to reach their potential. At the end of the day, each individual person needs to make a decision that suits them. We believe the volunteer fee ensures the work volunteers do isn’t a burden on the local community, and that the community really benefits from the volunteers help and expertise. It also ensures that volunteers get the best experience with wrap around services, and that they come away feeling like they’ve really made a difference…..because they have.