Why are some projects free?
Funded projects, skilled volunteers and applying for being paid
Not many projects offer free volunteering or will pay you for working. The ones that do often require you to cover your living expenses and transport. These projects are either run by NGO's, have a religious base or are in real need of teachers, doctors and social workers.
With large NGO's you can expect to go through quite a long application process. There are some NGO's that will pay you or pay all your cost including transport and airfares. These organisations are normally very strict on their policies and you will need to comply to their rules.
Religiously based projects often require that you belong to the same religion or church and you will be working within that structure.
Smaller projects that accept volunteers will also require an application from the volunteer. You will normally be required to cover your own living costs unless the project has funding for this. Small projects normally don't pay volunteers as this takes away jobs from the local community. Some projects take paid volunteers as standard but will offer discounted or free volunteering if the volunteers are qualified in the are of need. Again they normally require you to cover your own costs.
There are some wildlife projects that need skilled help and will often cover your costs or pay you a small amount so that you can cover your cost. Please make sure that you are not taking away jobs from local community.
Free projects often require that you cover your own accommodation cost. They normally have arranged accommodation close to where you will be working. Prices vary greatly as this will be up to you in term of where you live and what you need. Some organisations will have basic accommodation that is either paid for by you or free.
Most of the time you will have to cover your own food cost. Some organisations will include food as part of the project but any luxuries will be paid for by you. Please not that vegetarians or people with special diets find it harder to find projects that will cater for them. You will need to find out if there is local transport to shops especially in rural areas.
Some organisations will have vehicles that you can use and this might be part of the funded program. If they do not you will have to find out about local transport and how well it works and how often it runs. Most small projects will be based in a village and you will probably be able to walk. Bicycles are useful and can save you allot of effort and cost. Buying a car is your other option and can often be the best way as you can sell it at the end of your project and get most of your money back. You will need to check on the availability of fuel in rural areas. Unleaded petrol is normally the biggest problem and prices are often inflated.
Money going to projects
Most projects are funded but it always helps if you do some fundraising in your own country beforehand. Some projects will require a donation to accept a volunteer. There are many ways of fundraising so do some research. Projects are often in desperate need of basic things and even a few hundred dollars can help.
Free volunteering is hard to find and often harder to get accepted to a program. It is possible and if you have the skill you will probably find something if you persist. We do encourage you to do your research and consider your impact. This is especially true if you are an inexperienced volunteer.
We hope this information has been useful to your in deciding.