Should I Pay To Be A Volunteer English Teacher? Not So Much

One of my pet peeves is when a company seems to be fundraising by including volunteers without being straightforward about how the money required is being used. If they are honest and explain what the costs are and how their program benefits you or what you or the local community get from it, no problem. Decide if you want to volunteer with that organization or not. It may be a good organization which raises money for a worthy cause by creating an interesting and meaningful experience for international volunteers.

But I’ve seen organizations – say, in India, which say that $500 per month goes towards accommodation, which is outrageous-accommodation just doesn’t cost that much. This makes it appear they are preying on people’s lack of knowledge about the situation. I suppose the antidote, though, is to educate yourself about how much things cost and be aware of what you are willing to pay before you commit your time and money.

My other main reason for saying “no” would be this: if the whole project is essentially designed as an experience for the volunteer, rather than as a response to a real need – if you genuinely want to feel that you have made a contribution, you may well be disappointed. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a program that arranges a project more as a setting for intercultural communication than for a direct contribution – and I do believe plenty of good can stem from it – but both sides should be open about this.

For the other side of this debate, check out Should I Pay..? Well, Yes.