Volunteering: Good cause? Or Good con?

Thinking of travelling this summer? Considering volunteering abroad in the future? Here are some tips and tricks of the trade to ensure you have the best time and avoid the scares and scams.

Volunteering Abroad

Paying to volunteer has always seemed a strange contradiction to me. You pay hundreds of pounds (often in addition to your own flight) to give up your time to help teach, aid a community or lead a group of volunteers. Moreover many agencies do not explain where this money is utilised – often paying for administration and advertising fees.

However more volunteers are needed than ever in the furthest corners of the world, but unfortunately fewer people are as willing to give up their time for nothing. Therefore it is understandable that these companies have to overcompensate to advertise and sell volunteering as a product to gain a wider audience.

Nevertheless there is an issue of control here. After making the step to give your time to volunteering it would be rewarding to be able to see how your money and time is helping each specific community.


Why not volunteer and then separately provide a donation that you can see the effect of? Or perhaps separate your work overseas from paying for your accommodation costs?

Below are a few tips that will ensure you are giving yourself the best chance of a successful and rewarding volunteering/travelling experience:


Utilise Guide books: If you scroll through guide books referring to the country you are planning on visiting, there will always be sections/websites they recommend for worthy volunteering experiences. ‘The Lonely Planet’ series are the most recommended.

Look at the website: By visiting the website of your chosen volunteering experience, you should be able to gage how valid the charity seems to be. Ensure that you call/email any contacts that they provide, as many websites can prove to be scams with no valid response team associated with it at all.

Do your research: Consider how much it would cost for you to travel and live in the country of your choice without any help of the charity/volunteering agency. If you can live and work for less than they are offering then consider choosing a different agency or find your own work independently.

• Alternatively you can always take a look at what the University considers to be valid and worthwhile volunteering agencies at the link below:

Whatever you decide to do over summer, consider giving back to the community in some way. Experience for yourself the feeling of elation and incredible benefits that volunteering can offer when seeing the world from a whole new viewpoint.


Keep following exeterdrop for more articles to get you in the mood for summer.