Volun­teering: Why paying for voluntary commit­ment?

Among volunteering that is free of charge there are also volunteer projects that need to paid for. Oftentimes people ask: "Why do I need to pay for my voluntary commitment?" The following blog gives answers.

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At first it should be mentioned that volunteering is good because it is voluntary commitment. Which means besides personal development and the own experience, engaging in a charitable project takes over a central role.

Volunteer work appears in different shapes and variations. A very common form of volunteering in Germany is the so called “FSJ”, “BFD” or “FÖJ” which means that high school graduates take a gap year to do voluntary work in the social or environmental sector. For example, in hospitals, nursing homes or nature conservation organizations. In general, this goes without salary. In some cases, volunteers receive an allowance from the organization they are working for. The German volunteer programme “weltwaerts” for example is sponsored by the federal ministry of development and collaboration.



Next to these free volunteer programmes there are other volunteer projects for which the volunteers must pay a fee. Sometimes this causes incomprehension and the question arises: Why should I pay for voluntary work?

The answer to this question is quite simple: Volunteer work does cost money! Usually more in other countries than at home. Even though your services are offered for free, each volunteer project must deal with costs such as accommodation and meals. Furthermore, they need to cover the expenses for equipment and staff within the project. Many projects are located in remote areas which can make the logistics of supplies extremely difficult.


Projects which are not sponsored by the government, foundations or NGOs are relying on other ways to finance their projects. The fee which volunteers pay supports the projects and makes the implementation of important ideas and charitable initiatives possible.

More and more volunteer projects are handled with agencies. This is not mandatory, but it saves a lot of time and work concerning the planning of a trip abroad and the placement in a project. You also receive valuable information about your destination which you would otherwise hardly find. For these services a fee is paid to cover assistance, support, planning, booking and administration, but this is quickly compensated by the time and effort which you saved.

Paid volunteer work is not a contradiction in terms. It is rather the case that part of the ongoing expenses of the project are covered by the volunteers which keeps the project alive; projects which could otherwise not persist. Agencies help volunteers to find the right project for them which meets their expectations and dreams.

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