Don’t get me wrong. Volunteers and charities have much to be applauded for. But what do you think about having to pay for the privilege of helping others?
In my travels, I have met more people who had paid to volunteer than those who had not. Often volunteer organisations (and agencies) will charge you some money usually to cover your living expenses, transport, etc., and the leftover being a ‘donation’.
Some would say this is fair and makes things easier for everyone; and some would question this was the best way to get the most out of your money in terms of benefiting those you are trying to help (or whatever the cause may be). Most volunteers hand over the money thinking it will be spent responsibly by those you are entrusting with it.
In a forum recently, a girl was looking for a volunteer work that did not require her to pay. Somebody criticised her for not wanting to pay a ‘small reasonably expected’ amount of money in order to help others less fortunate. She replied she could not afford to give money at the time but instead wanted to contribute what she had – time.
There are ways of helping without having to pay but with just the pure volunteer spirit. You might want to lend a hand with the village harvest or offer to re-paint the rusty school playground (or you could buy some books or sports equipment for the school). In most cases, all of these help would be gladly accepted with all your time, effort and money spent directly benefiting the community.
Having said that, a volunteer or charity organisation can give you an opportunity to be involved in more organised long term projects (which will require more funding). But it seems it is usually the localised grassroots volunteer organisations that request the volunteers to contribute financially as well. Charging volunteers is a common practice in places that many people often expect it to be the norm.
So what do you think? Have you had any good or bad experiences with paying to volunteer (or with volunteering in general)? I would like to hear especially from those who can recommend any good projects (both paying or non-paying), for those who might be interested in volunteering in the future.
Please help with my goal of building up a database of volunteer projects and any assessments on them so that we can help people interested in volunteer work make better decisions – Better use of resources means better help provided.
I will summarise and tabulate details of projects and comments left below so they can be easily searched.