Agreeing to volunteer abroad is a big commitment. You will no doubt be a blessing to everyone you encounter while overseas. However, before you can serve your chosen countrymen, you must first get there!
Many organizations place international volunteers in various countries around the world. While the organization is willing to do the work to get you a placement, they aren’t willing to pay for your time overseas. Volunteers must pay the cost associated with the placement.
Why You Have to Pay
You might find this treatment a bit unfair. After all, you are giving your time, effort and energy. Why do you also have to pay for all your expenses?
It is economically beneficial to the poor and developing communities to use funds to hire local people to serve any way they can. Organizations don’t want to use the precious limited funds they have available to bring in outside volunteers. However, that doesn’t mean your service is unimportant – quite the opposite actually. These organizations couldn’t function without the help of volunteers.
What You Are Paying For
Volunteering abroad during a short-term assignment will cost at least a few thousand dollars. The fees usually include some or all of the following:
- Travel to the country, within the country, and back home.
- Your housing.
- Salary for the organization’s staff member who is training, supervising and supporting you.
- Government fees to allow you to work in their country.
- Some of your meals.
- Supplies and materials used while volunteering.
Fundraising Tips and Suggestions
Depending on how dedicated you are to your fundraising efforts, it could take weeks or years to raise the necessary funds. Here are some suggestions on how to speed up the process.
1. Create a blog about your desire to volunteer abroad. Include information about the country where you hope to serve, the organization(s) you plan to work with, and what you are doing to prepare for the trip. Then, share your fundraising goals. Let people know they can support the locals from afar by helping to finance your trip. To encourage donations and make the giving process easier, include the following on your blog:
- Your budget. Include all the expenses and your best guess at their cost. Don’t forget to include things like your passport and visa fees, medical and travel insurance, international cell phone, vaccinations, etc.
- A PayPal account. Donors can easily share money with you via PayPal. Also, you can easily track which money has been earmarked for the trip so it doesn’t get mixed in with your regular-life funds. Once you have your blog up and running, email the address to friends and family. You’ll also want to share the link on your social networks.
2. Get a part-time job in the formal sector. Work as a bartender, waitress, or sales associate.
3. Perform various tasks in the informal sector. Offer to walk the neighborhood dogs, house-sit while loved ones are away, babysit, do yard work, re-roof a house, wash windows – anything that will help you earn a few extra dollars.
4. Have a garage sale. Invite friends and family to join you. Let shoppers know you are raising money to volunteer abroad – they might be inclined to spend more (or give a flat donation).
5. Sell unused items on eBay.
6. Make a presentation at your church and ask them to pass the hat. Share your blog’s URL. Mention that photos and updates will be posted during the trip. Offer to come back after volunteering to share stories about your experience.
7. Hold a fundraising cocktail party. Invite your friends and family (and encourage them to invite others too). Include your fundraising intentions on the invitation so guests don’t feel ambushed upon arrival. Consider sharing a photo slideshow or video of the area you hope to serve.
8. Ask local businesses about fundraising options. For example, if you volunteer to bus the tables in a restaurant, can you keep the tips? Would the local bar be willing to charge a small cover for a night to help you raise funds? As you go through the fundraising process, you will probably come across other opportunities to earn funds. Embrace them. As soon as you meet your fundraising goal, you can hit the road!
Adam writes on the behalf of The Intern Group, where you get best options for summer internship in Argentina.