How To Choose A Volunteering Organisation Wisely

Voluntourism...

woman with childrenThe concept of voluntourism is exactly as the word implies – volunteering while travelling, so being a tourist. We at Khaya do not really agree with this term as it implies that volunteering is basically just for the individual volunteer as a tourist. 

We prefer to use the terms volunteering or experience travel, but what's in a name, as they say.

Volunteering can be an amazing way to blend into cultures around the world. Volunteer traveling has been a growing trend since the early 1990’s and a great way of experience travel. Nowadays its an entire niche market on itself and since the explosion of the internet, booking a trip has become a lot easier.

A lot of companies see this growing market just as an opportunity to make big money out of volunteers and the projects where they are volunteering. While most aspiring volunteers begin their search with good intentions, it is important to look for a volunteer opportunity for the right reasons and to make sure that you choose a credible organization to dedicate your time to.

Assuming you already know what kind of volunteer work you want to do, here’s an overview on how to avoid the big bad wolves out there.

Firstly and most importantly – research, research, research!
Try to find out as much information as possible concerning the organization that you plan to work with. Ask yourself questions such as: 'are they a tour operator offering lots of other products or is their core business focused on volunteering'. The chances are big that tour operators offering volunteering are only in it to make money and have little to no affinity with the proejcts they offer. If a backpackers or travel lodge is offering volunteering experiences, ask yourself why? To fill up beds, that's why and to make a quick buck from volunteers. There are many reputable organizations out there so be critical, ask questions and see if they belong to any larger organizations with a strong focus on responsible volunteering. (read our, Ethical and Responsible Volunteering Policy)

Be very observant in your initial communications with the organization.
If they don’t ask you any questions about your experience, qualifications, references or motivation to volunteer with the organization, it is probably best to steer clear. At the same time; are they open and transparent about where your fees will go? Again; ask questions before making the decision.

Go with a purpose and particular goal in mind.
Don’t just volunteer for the sake of volunteering. Choose a project or organization that you truly care about and you will leave with a much better experience. The main focus of your stay should be a situation where all involved benefit. Not just you by having a great experience but especially the project that can get your support to grow and improve themselves.

So whatever your destination; ask questions, be critical and choose wisely!

 

 

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