As the interest in voluntourism grows, more and more “middleman” companies have swooped in to create customizable volunteering packages for travelers. These companies can charge upwards of $500 a week to place you in a volunteer program, and — according to their PR — to hold your hand if anything goes wrong.
This can be reassuring for first-time travelers, but by and large these commercial programs are ridiculously overpriced and often have questionable impact on the local community. Consider that many of these programs include only two weeks of volunteering followed by two weeks of adventure activity. How much of an impact can you have in two weeks?
These companies cater to the “Quick! Get a picture of me holding up this shovel and carrying a small Latino child, so I can show on Facebook how worldly and caring I am!” tourists.
Here’s how to find a genuine program for low-cost volunteering abroad and avoid falling into the category of ‘poser do-gooder.’