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 to spot a 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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