Questions to Ask before Volunteering in Bali
So, you have decided to volunteer abroad possibly in Bali, Indonesia. Below are some questions we recommend asking a company (business) or non-profit organization (called a Yayasan in Indonesia):
• The first thing to consider is whether the organization is a company or local not-for-profit organization?
• If it’s a non-profit organization is it owned by a local Indonesian or foreigner.
• How long has the volunteering organization you are interested been active?
• Is there a local Indonesian partner organization on the ground which manages the project and develops roles for volunteers?
• Why does the organization or project need a volunteer?
• If the project involves supporting a community or local people, how much involvement have they had in deciding to host volunteers?
• What projects and responsibilities will you be doing on a day-to-day basis while volunteering?
• Do you require any specific skills for the volunteering project?
• Are you able to speak to or email a volunteer who has been on the same project?
• How much does the organization charge for the placement and can they provide a breakdown of how this money is being spent?
• How much of your Program fees is being provided to the local program and community in Bali, Indonesia? Is it 10%, 20% 50% or 100%
• How does the price compare with similar projects with other organizations in Bali, Indonesia. If it is more, why is it more?
• Does the organization provide local Balinese support during your volunteering placement?
• What are the local conditions like where you will be living?
Choosing the right organization to volunteer within Bali, Indonesia.
There are many organizations offering volunteering placements all over Indonesia. So how do you choose the right placement for you?
Company or non-profit organization?
The first thing to consider is whether the organization is a company or or not-for-profit. It comes back to your own values and your view of companies who sell volunteering placements as a business. One argument is that they are helping small organizations in developing countries to have a regular stream of volunteers to help with projects, but another is that making a profit from people wishing to do something good for others is unethical.
Is the organization small or large?
If you may also prefer to go with a smaller organization – big is not always best. If you like more personal service and specialist offering, a small organization that perhaps only has one or two projects in a couple of locations could be better for you. You might also prefer to provide your support and money to a small organization or non-profit organization based in that country you are volunteering in.
Long term development of the Projects
One main benefit of supporting a non-profit organization (Yayasan) is that they are likely to have a much stronger focus on long-term development and poverty reduction in the areas they work and their strategy will focus on how volunteers can contribute to this. The costs of going with a not-for-profit (Yayasan) is usually much less than with a company and a larger proportion of what you pay is likely to go towards the project or local partner?
Their language and images used on their web site or social media
You should look carefully at the language and images used by organizations offering volunteering placements, how they present their projects and also examine the pricing of their projects. Do they use patronizing language on their web site, for example describing poor or underprivileged people as “needing your assistance” and talk about your presence making a real difference to these people, or being “life-changing”?
Going direct to a local non-profit organization (Yayasan)
Another option is to by-pass volunteer sending organizations and find an organization to volunteer within the country where you are planning to visit. This can significantly reduce the cost of volunteering, however you should make sure to do a lot of research and find out as much as possible about the organization, what they will expect you to do during your volunteering placement and how much support you will receive. It will also help you to be assisted by the Foundation you are wanting to volunteer with to arrange a Social visa which allows you to volunteer in the country.
Reading reviews can be useful when you are trying to choose which organization to volunteer with, however it is important to remember they are based on individual experiences and can also be very subjective. Reviews can give you useful feedback from other volunteers and if you read a number of accounts that give a generally negative impression about an organization, this could influence your decision about whether to volunteer with them. Try to read between the lines and discard reviews which have very specific criticisms or reflect overly high expectations. what happens if the organization isn’t able to recruit people?
How much should you pay?
Many people ask the question “why should I pay to volunteer?”. The concept of volunteering is usually seen as giving your time so it is understandable that this question comes up. Volunteering overseas, especially in developing countries, is very different to volunteering at home. If you choose to go with a sending-organization, you are paying for their expertise in developing placements, their relationships with local organizations, the logistical support, local representatives employed by the organization and insurance cover. You also need to cover the cost of accommodation, transport to the placement and any training provided. Anther important question is whether the local organization or host community who manages the volunteering project should receive a fee for hosting a volunteer. The risk here is that the local organizations may see volunteers as a money-making opportunity and not set up placements which are actually needed by their community. As an alternative, some volunteer sending-organizations do make a donation to the project and incorporate this into the cost paid by the volunteer. For example organizations may donate materials for a construction project or equipment for a local school where volunteers assist the teachers. It is important for responsible volunteering organizations to be transparent about how volunteers’ money is spent. If they do not have this information on their web site, you should ask them to give you a breakdown. Look at how much of the money you pay is spent locally rather than in your home-country and try to find out who benefits, for example does the organization use home-stays or employ local people in volunteer-support roles.