Why You Shouldn’t Pay to Volunteer

At Ssamba Foundation, we don’t charge volunteer placement fees. We recruit and host hundreds of people within our projects in Uganda every month– and we don’t charge them volunteer program fees. Why?
Because we’re committed to our projects. We’re committed to making a real lasting impact in the communities, and not becoming hung up on the money we could be earning. We’re here to make a difference, not to make bank.
So why do some organizations charge a fee to volunteer, and is it bad that they do so?
This is one question we get asked a lot. So to set the story straight on why you shouldn’t be paying to volunteer, I have to share this.
WHY IS IT WRONG TO PAY TO VOLUNTEER?
When you get fees involved, what can often happen is the volunteer organization stops caring about the needs of the community and instead only cares about the money they stand to make. It also means the organization stops focusing on providing support to a project, and instead starts focusing on delivering a service to a fee-paying customer – the volunteer. The result is that you have loads of organizations set up for the volunteers rather than the community they are claiming to help.
Sadly in my experience, all of the volunteer-organizations/agencies I’ve come across are set up for the volunteer and not for the community at all. That’s the difference between Ssamba Foundation and other organizations.
Also, when fees are involved, organizations could ultimately start asking for volunteers not because they need help, but because they want the fee, and that’s the attitude Ssamba Foundation is trying to get rid of.
HOW ABOUT “PROJECT RUNNING COSTS’, LOGISTICS, or “VOLUNTEER RELATED COST”?!
Project running costs would mean the organization is paying to run the school, orphanage or whatever the project they’re placing people to – but I believe when projects truly need help, they do all that administration themselves – free of charge.
For instance, if one of our projects really needs help, we will happily send a few emails back and forth, support volunteers with information on visas and generally provide assistance, because we are desperate for the volunteer. As a host community we also provide meals and accommodation to our volunteers who come here to help out.
MY OVERALL ADVICE FOR PEOPLE LOOKING TO VOLUNTEER SOMEWHERE!
Look at a few different organizations, check out your options, ask the questions and just go with what feels right for you at the end of the day. Ultimately it comes down to you and whether you feel it is an ethical placement. Do you feel that you’re actually going to help, that you’re actually going to have an overall positive impact there. If you do, then go for it.”
Isaac Ssamba
Founder & Executive Chairman
Ssamba Foundation

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