Why Pay to Volunteer Abroad?

How do we spend the program fees paid to us by our volunteers?

Seventy (70) percent of the program fee is sent to the host country and thirty (30) percent remains with Cosmic Volunteers in the US.

Here is how the program fee is spent:

  • Meals and accommodations for volunteers
  • Airport pickup and drop-off
  • Orientation In-Country (safety issues, sightseeing, currency exchange, phone purchases etc)
  • Providing visa letters and assisting with visa extensions
  • Arranging safe, meaningful volunteer placements
  • Finding and training reliable host families to house volunteers
  • Daily transport to and from volunteer site
  • Accompanying ill volunteers to hospital 24 hours
  • Advising and accompanying volunteers on extra sightseeing
  • Staying in touch with alumni volunteers
  • Fielding inquiries from potential volunteers and parents in choosing a country and program
  • Preparing upcoming volunteers via phone and email for their trip
  • Advising volunteers on culture / safety / visas / vaccinations / flights / insurance
  • Providing volunteers with a detailed Volunteer Handbook specific to each country
  • Providing 24 hour support for volunteers and families back home
  • Finding and training reliable, trustworthy and expert coordinators
  • Keeping daily contact with volunteers, coordinators, families in 15 countries
  • Following-up with volunteers after they return home
  • Recruiting volunteers (school fairs, advertising online, trade shows, PR, brochures, Internet)
  • Providing letters of reference and/or certificates of completion
  • Advising and often donating funds to returned volunteers’ own start-up development projects
  • Buying equipment/shirts for sports leagues, schools, children’s shelters
  • Fielding inquiries from potential partners / coordinators / host families (1,000+ per year)
  • Payments to unemployment social security funds
  • Quarterly legal/accounting fees
  • Developing our website
  • Preparing tax returns and other government filings
  • Wire transfer fees
  • Our staff’s travel to our host countries to accompany volunteers

Keep in mind that our main overall purpose is to offer volunteer programs abroad for people who do not have the time, local contacts, and/or desire to arrange their own trips. As we have told potential volunteers since 2001, you can certainly volunteer abroad “for free” without the assistance of an organization like mine. In fact, I would even encourage you to do so if you feel that would work out better. But for others, they prefer to go abroad with organizations like Cosmic Volunteers because we have already done the work of finding trustworthy local contacts, warm host families and meaningful volunteer positions and internships.

Additionally, it is worth noting that Cosmic Volunteers is a not-for-profit venture and registered charity. So by law and purpose, any profits remaining after our expenses must be spent on our programs. Cosmic’s staff cannot take the money for themselves. When Scott Burke started the company in 2001, he decided to do it this way because he wanted to really made a difference to peoples’ lives, both for our volunteers and the people they help. This is a true non-profit venture.