How to Spot a Volunteer Scam


Paying for a volunteer opportunity can be a fair exchange. 

Paying for a “volunteer opportunity” masquerading as a business can be a horrible exchange. 

If you have a specialized skill like graphic designer, wind turbine engineer, or eye doctor – you know exactly what you bring to the table. 

But what if you’re not sure what you can offer as a volunteer? What if you don’t have a specialized skill but you still want to help in some way? 

This is where paying for a volunteer exchange comes into play. 

Let’s be clear: You’re not buying an experience. Run away from opportunities that charge you thousands of dollars to play with children or hatch turtles eggs. This is a babysitting job; and you are the baby.

example 1:

Can you spot Red flags to spot in the example above? 




No clear initiative or objective of where you’re contributing

Using children as bait

Extremely high program costs

Now let’s look at example #2:

Can you spot the green flags?

Appropriate price tag

Clear initiative

In partner with a local organization

Appropriate length of time.

The above example is from LoveVolunteer.Org, a volunteer placement program that has clear initiatives and solid vetting processes when it comes to working with children.

*Criminal Background Checks are required for anyone volunteering with children

*Fees and money allocations are clearly designated

*Programs serve sustainable, long-term initiatives

Congratulations, now you have the tools needed on how to spot a volunteer scam…or just an unethical business practice, from a mile away. 

Oh, Pro Tip: Avoid a company called GreenHeart Travel. I’ll tell you why over a glass of wine sometime.

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I'm a bestselling author, hotel reviewer and pickleball player. I teach women how to travel the world solo without going broke or getting kidnapped.
In 2011, I left Seattle with just $200 in my pocket to travel the world solo. Today, I'm the founder and creator of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide, the #1 travel guide book series for women - and the author of The One-Way Ticket Plan. 

author of The One-Way Ticket Plan and CEO of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

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