Paying for an international volunteer holiday may seem counterintuitive since you’re offering your time and effort for free. However, several reasons explain why fees are necessary, especially in countries like South Africa.

In South Africa and other countries, volunteers must cover their expenses to ensure that their presence doesn’t take jobs away from locals. Extra funds that could cover volunteer expenses would otherwise be used to employ locals. Ethical volunteering ensures that jobs are created, not taken away, particularly in countries that struggle high unemployment rates and poverty. The government is strict about remuneration for undocumented work, including board and lodging. Thus, volunteers must cover these costs.

Living expenses

The fee usually covers living expenses such as accommodation, meals, and airport transfers. This ensures volunteers have a safe and comfortable place to stay and are well-nourished during their volunteer period. Many of our projects have other inclusions too for example, our projects in Knysna, South Africa, include branded t-shirts, a welcome braai (South African-style BBQ), and a Saturday tour of local markets and wildlife reserves to enhance the cultural experience. By law in South Africa- and many countries around the world- international visitors must cover the cost their stay incurs, and the local community should not be funding it. 

Project funding

Volunteer projects require materials, supplies, animal feed, and other resources to operate effectively. Your fee helps cover these costs through included donations, ensuring the project can continue its work and benefit the local community, youth, and animals.

Administrative costs

Any organisation has operational costs, including salaries for local staff, office expenses, and logistics. Administrative expenses ensure the smooth functioning of our volunteer programs. Staff handle inquiries, volunteer bookings, data capture, and pre-departure documentation to ensure everything is in place before your arrival. Effective administration ensures volunteers are well-informed and prepared for their experience.

Training and support

Volunteers need orientation, training, and ongoing support to be effective and safe in their roles. Fees help cover the costs of training up volunteers and salaries of local staff who coordinate volunteer activities and ensure their safety. This support is particularly reassuring for younger volunteers and their parents, providing peace of mind and enhancing the overall experience. And for those nervous of travelling to foreign destinations and appreciate the support on the ground.

Sustainability and impact

Quality volunteer programs focus on sustainability and creating long-term positive impacts. Fees contribute to maintaining programs that make a real difference rather than short-term or superficial efforts. Many projects rely on volunteers for essential tasks, particularly in animal care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions severely impacted animal sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers. Volunteers play a crucial role in these programs, and without them, many animals would not receive the care they need.

Thanks to the support of our volunteers, we are also able to give back where there is a need whether it comes to supporting our local monthly outreach veterinary clinic, youth development, food donations, school children with new school uniforms due to their shacks burning down or extra donations during times of crisis.

We have managed to source such amazing volunteers over time from qualified professionals to hard working individuals who are such a huge support. We hope that they all have had the most incredible experience in their chosen destinations making memories and meeting new friends whether locals – two legged, four legged or two winged-and fellow volunteers.

Take a look at our volunteer projects in South Africa, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.