Volunteer Fees, the ethics behind them.

On occasion, people have shared with us that they were unable to go on an AEI Experience because they could not afford to pay the trip fees. We find this really heartbreaking because we truly believe if there is a will, there is a way. If you want to travel and volunteer with animals, we want to help you do it. We want to help you live your dreams and that’s why we offer fundraising mentorship. We have been fundraising for volunteer trips, work, school and charities for years and we can give you ideas on what has worked for us and what has worked for our clients. We are here to help, so we hope that you accept it!

But why are there fees?

The sad reality is that it is actually quite expensive to run an animal welfare or conservation centre, and animal sanctuaries have even more associated costs. From electricity for the surgery rooms, to water for cleaning and bathing, from food for the animals (they do eat a lot) to medications and veterinary staff to look after the health and well being of the animals - it is not free, or even low cost, for a centre to be in operation. Thankfully volunteers, like you, step up and offer help – meaning these centres can exist on the limited funding they receive from donations.

Feeding, housing and caring for the animals are large expenses. But what about the cost of taking care of you? Who will pay for your meals and your electricity while you are volunteering? Who will pay for the petrol required to drive you around? Who will pay for the water you use for your laundry or showers?  In order for us to be ethical and just-minded, we have sat down with all of our partners and agreed on ethical and fair compensation for your stay while you are volunteering. We know that the time and skills that you volunteer are invaluable (thank you!) – but we don’t want our partners to lose money because we are helping. We cover the cost of the resources required to host our volunteers. We offer more than a living salary to our drivers and of course we pay house mothers for their time preparing meals, not just for the groceries our volunteers consume. Since most of our trips include your accommodation and food in the total price of the trip, we think of AEI Experiences as “all inclusive trips”. When considered in this light, our experiences are less than what most people pay for a one week vacation!

AEI is a B Corp and we have pledged social, economic and environmental responsibility. The majority of your money goes directly to our placement partner to pay your placement fees which cover your accommodation, meals, airport pick up and drop off, training, support while on project and any membership fees and uniforms that are required.  Your travel insurance and IVC Card benefits are added to your fees and so are carbon balancing your travel with the Carbon Farmer. The rest of your fees go towards supporting our placement partners (such as the place where you will be volunteering), developing new placement opportunities and allowing AEI to function as a socially responsible B Corp.

We provide our clients with many fundraising ideas as well as much fundraising assistance and mentoring throughout the process. Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about fundraising – either for your personal fees and airfare, or to provide additional support for the organization where you will be volunteering. Most of our volunteers do fundraise for at least a portion of their fees and you can too! If you do have any questions about fundraising or about fees, please ask! We want to help you be able to help some of the most ethical programs on the planet - as a responsible AEI volunteer!