Thousands of volunteer organizations with thousands of volunteer opportunities worldwide. Millions of well intended people willing to give their time to make a difference. Billions of dollars contributed just for welfare of others. Voluntourism is now more than $173 billion dollar industry with a “Make a difference tag line”.
Traveling is a great way to explore ourselves and if we are able to give back to local communities during our travel trips, it can give us the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Joining right intended organizations can make the experience of giving back memorable and worth it. Organizations charge you for your accommodation and meals that are provided for you during your volunteering trips. Many times the price will be higher because the project add some funds to sustain. If the humanitarian organization is solely running of volunteer contributions, then some parts of the funds will also support local staffs for working everyday in the projects. There are also various organizations giving free accommodation and meals in exchange of volunteer work.
It’s always better to connect with projects directly than through agencies. Here’s why:
Many international agencies charge an average of $1000 for a month of volunteering. With the advertising costs, staff salary and other stuff they will only be able to pay half of the funds to the partner organizations in developing countries. When the organizations in the developing countries get an average of $500 from international organizations, they will only manage to give half or less of it to the real project which is making the difference in local communities. Technically, the real project you are working with and accommodation plus meals they are providing you for a month, they will only get an average of $250 per month out of your $1000.
Avoid all this charming volunteer international agencies and find the local projects. Imagine yourself paying around $300 for the accommodation and meals to the host organization and using the rest of the money that would have been paid for the international organization to make the real difference. If you are volunteering with children you will be able to buy them stationary or other education material, you can be able to supply food for poor families for several months, you can help sponsor some kids for a year education and more. The money which would go in the pocket of different unnecessary agencies can make the real difference in the real project. Investing smart in voluntourism can help the project to upgrade and the fund is enough to make a change in third world countries.
Voluntourism : A rapid growing multi-billion dollar controversial industry.
There are almost equal numbers of people who think voluntourism is bad and good. Many people believe that volunteer travels do more harm than good. And there is also a huge number of people who love volunteering and every travel they make they support a local community charity.
Some of the reasons why this industry is controversial:
High volunteering fees without transparency.
Untrained foreigner involvement in serious projects like children welfare.
Volunteers taking aways jobs of locals.
Volunteer project scam.
Short term volunteering periods.
Benefits of Volunteering and Traveling.
Research shows that volunteering leads to higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression, as well as better physical health and a longer life. Also by volunteering and traveling abroad we will be able to gain new experiences out of our comfort zone. Meeting new people and making new friends help us to understand different lifestyles of being in developed and developing countries. The experience we gain during voluntourism helps us to enhance our resume and personal growth. Many times making a difference in someone’s life gives us a sense of achievement and fulfillment that earning money doesn’t.
There are numerous benefits of traveling abroad. When we travel to a new country we deal with new languages and new culture. We try to adapt in new situations and new environment which helps us to build patience. It makes us more social and boost up our confidence. Many times traveling give us more valuable lessons for our life than reading a book or watching news. Exploring new places and breaking out our daily lifestyles help us to get new, creative and original ideas.
How to make a difference with your money and volunteering trip?
Every year millions of volunteers contribute billions of dollars for welfare of third world countries. Even developed countries are recruiting volunteers for different project. The numbers of volunteers are raising every year. Most of the volunteers are gap year students and from the age group of 19 -26 years old. America, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Spain are just some of the active countries whose citizens volunteer all around the year in developing countries. Before thinking of signing up for a volunteer trip, know what you are good at. What are your talents or skills you can contribute. Please don’t volunteer in a project you have no idea about. If you really like the project and you want to join, then ask the program manager if they can give you some orientation classes where you can learn some skills to contribute and hand the project properly. As said before, try to research local organizations who are in need of help, not the best volunteer advertising companies which are easy to find in google ( If you really want to make a difference). During your volunteer trip, try to research what the organization is in need and contribute on that. Many time donating money is not solution, supporting things like buying stuff by yourself for the organization can make the right use of your money.
Author: Sujan pariyar is editor in chief at Influencing Entrepreneur magazine, founder of Inxchan.com. He is also known for starting meditation and yoga picture as travel trend.