Why do I pay to Volunteer?

Posted on April 21, 2014Posted by Steve Williams

Why Pay to Volunteer?

The second most asked question we receive at Bamboo is “….but it’s volunteering so why do I have to pay?” This is a very fair question and one that I hope has been answered in several areas on our website. But for those who haven’t looked that deeply in to what we consider to be the best volunteer travel website out there at the moment, let me explain the answer in a little more detail.

Firstly the Cambridge Free English Dictionary defines the word ‘volunteer’ as: a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.


So volunteering, by its very name is the description of a person doing something they want to do and not being paid to do it. So why then would anybody want to pay to volunteer? Well, as far as Bamboo are concerned, nobody pays to volunteer, ever.

Let me explain…..

Yes, you are expected to pay something to join us on one of our projects or tours here in Thailand, or with our partners in India or Nepal. But – and this is the big but – you are not paying to volunteer. What you are paying for is the support and first-class service that you will receive, from the moment you first contact us, to the day you arrive to begin your volunteering adventure, to your last day on the project and including once you have returned to your native country to carry on your normal life, with an enormous smile on your face.


So your fee, the money you pay, covers many separate areas all that combine to make your volunteering worthwhile, interesting, safe, supported and genuine. Here’s a list of a few of the inclusions that your fee covers;

Airport pick-up on arrival – it can be very daunting arriving in a foreign country, particularly if you’re on your own and this is the first time to this particular country.

Your arrival experience every volunteer receives an in-depth orientation and cultural explanation so that you can relax and not be worried about making cultural mistakes and to ensure you understand your surroundings better.

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Your in-country transport all of your travel in the country where you volunteer is included so that you can be assured it’s safe, reliable and there are no errors due to language barriers. We hire vans, coaches, drivers and also need to pay for the gasoline!

Your accommodation we give you a very nice room to sleep in and very often in a very nice hotel, or guest house. We may even also include some meals for you throughout your volunteering placement.

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Your coordinators and guides all of our team are locally hired, experienced, trained and English speaking. They need a salary and can’t work free! This also goes for the team behind the scenes who ensure that your placement runs smoothly, is safe and above, actually helps those it’s supposed too.

Project materials for example, we often work on redevelopment and building projects. The materials required for these aren’t donated to us, we need to pay for them. This also goes for English teaching materials, buying food and supplying healthcare for elephants, purchasing books and learning materials for childcare locations and lots more besides. We wish, above all else, that we could obtain these items for free, because then we could pass this saving back to you!

Insurance our company has the required insurance to make sure that you’re covered in the event of any little accidents whilst volunteering or traveling with us. This isn’t free either!
Communications – if you’ve never had to do, you wouldn’t believe how expensive it is to build, launch and maintain a website. And on top of that we need to have 24 hour telephone access. These bills all add up!

Business operations – from accountants to postage. From visas to training. The list for ‘business operations’ is as long your arm and just keeps growing. Without the means to pay these bills, we would cease to operate and the projects we support would grind to a halt.

Salaries that’s right, salaries! Even we need to eat and we do everything we can to make sure that our Thai team are well looked after. They’re the people who make your time the most amazing experience ever. As soon as you’ve spent just a few hours with any one of them, you’ll understand exactly what I mean!

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In addition to the above, we don’t spend any money on advertising or marketing. If we were a big corporation who deal with thousands of gap year breakers and need to look after the interests of shareholders then perhaps we would need too. But with Bamboo right now, and forever, our focus is ensuring that YOU have the best possible time as a volunteer or traveler and that our projects receive the support, both physically and financially, that we have promised and that we will deliver.

So please don’t get us wrong, you are NOT paying to volunteering, that is very much free of charge. You ARE paying for the above. You ARE paying for clarity, honesty, integrity and transparency. You ARE paying for the very best service in this field of travel from a team with almost 15 years of experience making this work. And you ARE paying to ensure the projects we work with actually flourish and are sustainable.

I hope this has cleared up that question for you. If you would like to know more about how you can volunteer in Thailand, or take on some adventure travel in India, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact. We want you to have the life-changing experience that we’ve all had and we will go out of our way to make it happen.

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