Booking an ethical volunteer trip can be a challenging process. It is imperative to choose the right program and be aware of the potential for scams and unethical practices. In addition to ensuring that your trip is safe and fulfilling, it is also vital to consider the effects that your travel plans will have on the host community. Luckily, there are a number of new booking platforms, such as Volunteer Forever, which feature dozens of reputable and high-quality programs.
Know everything you need to before committing to a volunteer project
Many organizations ask you to contribute your time and money to their programs, but you have to be a part of the effort to make it ethical. UNESCO coordinates many voluntary projects, but most of them require you to pay for your own travel, insurance, and lodging. This can be expensive, so consider your options carefully and ask questions before you commit to a volunteer project. If the organization isn’t transparent about its finances, it won’t have any motivation to keep you involved.
Always consider your budget
Before booking, always consider your budget. If you can’t afford to spend much money on a volunteer trip, look for organizations that have a high level of public recognition and thousands of past volunteers. For example, Global Volunteers, an American organization, has hosted over 30,000 volunteers since 1984 and has a blog dedicated to ethical volunteering. While their trips may cost a bit more, they provide support on-site.
Choosing a program that covers travel costs and insurance may be the best option
Choosing a program that covers travel costs and insurance is a great option if you are new to the volunteering field. However, these programs can be expensive, even for students. Those who have more experience in travel and are willing to plan their own experiences may want to consider self-organizing their trip, but be aware that this requires a lot of work. If you want to travel responsibly, it will be worth your time to reflect and think before committing to a service project.
Consider the advantages and risks
When choosing a volunteer organization, it is important to take into consideration the benefits and risks. While the organization you choose should provide a website with transparency, it is also vital to visit its facilities. In particular, the website should contain bios of the staff and the board members. It should not be a carousel of local tourist spots or try to sell you an experience. The focus should be on the values of the project, not on how the organization looks.
There are many placement companies that specialize in placing volunteers with non-profit organizations. These companies sell packages that include the fees for basic accommodation, meals, and in-country transportation. However, there is a danger with this because these companies may use the money, they charge for the volunteer’s expenses to run their own operations. Therefore, it is important to carefully review the fee structure of an organization before booking a trip. This will ensure that the organization offers the best opportunities for your needs and your health.