Where Does My Program Fee Go?
Almost all of your program fee is given directly to the host country organization you'll work with while abroad, and the rest is used for your support stateside. We keep our overhead costs as low as possible, using volunteer fees entirely to cover volunteer projects and support. If you'd like to learn more about why you're asked to pay a fee for placement (for any volunteer abroad organization), check out these three articles about it, as well as this video.
A small percentage of your program fee (pie charts included below) is used stateside for your support before, during, and after service. This includes:
- Registration processing (your initial form, invoice, and collection of important information like flight, insurance, arrival, and any other info we might need based on the project you sign up for)
- Volunteer/Intern Handbook
- Pre-departure interview
- U.S. staff support during your project
- Post-Trip Thank-You Packet
- Monthly newsletters
Casa-Nica, the local group you will be placed with in Nicaragua, is funded through volunteer and intern sign-ups. The organization receives no grants or government assistance, and is operated by a three-person team with the help of dedicated volunteers and interns.
Volunteer and internship programs with Casa-Nica both have the same program fee. If you sign up for a six-week project in Nicaragua, $900 of the $1,039 total cost is given directly to the organization, which uses your program fee for services and items such as the volunteer house, Spanish classes, program supplies and development, and more. As you can see by the chart below, based on a six-week program, 86.2% of your program fee is used by Casa-Nica both for volunteer/intern support and for program development:
Based on a six-week program, $139 is used for support stateside. Then, $900 (or 86.2% in this example) is given directly to Casa-Nica, which is used to cover:
- Onsite housing
- Laundry, hot showers, gas, WiFi, kitchen access, and other amenities
- Training and guidance throughout the project
- One meal per week
- Optional Spanish language classes
- Tools and supplies needed to support ongoing projects in the community
- Development of future projects
P.A.W. Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society, the local group you'll volunteer with in Belize (with its sister program, C.A.A.T.S. in Chetumal, Mexico), is funded entirely through volunteer sign-ups and through income generated through the director's guesthouse, which is open both to volunteers and to travelers. The organization receives no grants or government assistance, and is operated solely by one director with the help of dedicated volunteers.
If you sign up for a six-week project with P.A.W., $630 of the $769 program fee is given directly to P.A.W., which puts volunteer payments toward items such as cat food, tools and supplies for cattery upkeep (wood, chicken wire, etc.), and vaccinations and medications for the cats. As you can see by the chart below, based on a six-week program, 81.9% of your program fee is used by P.A.W. for volunteer support and for sanctuary maintenance and cat care:
Based on a six-week program, $139 is used for your support stateside. Then, $630 (or 81.9% in this example) is given directly to the sanctuary, which is used to cover:
- Guidance throughout the project
- Cat food, medications, and other items needed to help maintain the cats’ health
- Tools and supplies needed to maintain the catteries (wood, chicken wire, etc.)
Why is the percentage smaller for Belize's six-week program compared to Nicaragua's six-week program?
Your costs of living and in-country support in Belize are slightly lower than those of your placement in Nicaragua. However, your stateside support is the same regardless of where you go.
Unless otherwise specified by your program, you are responsible for the following:
- Flight schedule and airfare
- Passport and visa, if needed
- Travel clinic visit and vaccinations, if needed
- Airport transfer
- Transportation while in country
- Souvenirs, excursions, and other personal expenses
If you have questions or concerns about your program fee, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we're happy to help you out!