Budgeting and Funding for Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can often involve somewhat large expenses. Here’s a detailed guide to help you budget effectively, find financial support, and fundraise for your volunteer trip.

renovation volunteers in aborlan

Budgeting for a Volunteer Trip

Estimate Total Costs

Program Fees: These fees can vary widely depending on the duration, and location of the program. Some programs might include accommodation and meals, while others may not. Research multiple organizations and compare costs to find one that fits your budget. At IVI all our programs except a few include meals, accommodation and airport pickup ūüėä

Travel Expenses: Include the cost of flights (consider booking well in advance to get the best rates), visas, vaccinations (consult with a travel clinic for required and recommended vaccinations for your destination), and travel insurance (ensure it covers health, accident, and trip cancellation).

Living Expenses: Estimate costs for accommodation (if not included in the program fee), food, local transportation (public transit, taxis, or renting a vehicle), and personal expenses (such as toiletries, laundry, and entertainment).

Miscellaneous: Set aside funds for emergencies, additional excursions, and personal shopping. It’s wise to have a buffer of at least 10-20% of your total budget for unexpected expenses.

Create a Detailed Budget Plan

Break Down Each Category: List every possible expense in detail. For example, under travel expenses, break down the cost of the flight, airport transfers, and baggage fees.

Track Spending: Use budgeting apps or spreadsheets to monitor your spending against your plan. Apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), or PocketGuard can help you keep track of your expenses and stay within budget.

Cut Unnecessary Costs

Cheaper Flights: Use fare comparison sites like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights to find the best deals. Consider flying on weekdays or during off-peak seasons to save money. Tuesdays tend to be the cheapest day!

Budget Accommodation: If booking extra accommodation before or after your volunteer program, consider staying in hostels, guesthouses, or homestays instead of hotels. Websites like Hostelworld, Airbnb, or Couchsurfing can offer affordable lodging options.

Save on Food: Shop at local markets and cook your own meals when possible. Eating like a local can also be a great way to save money and experience the culture.

teaching zanzibar

Finding Grants and Scholarships

Research Opportunities

Universities and Colleges: Check if your institution offers funding for volunteer work or study abroad programs. Speak with the international office or career services for available opportunities. You will need to check with IVI beforehand to see if we can mee the requirements, but we have many volunteers use their trip with us towards Uni credits!

_China participants playing with students

Application Tips

Prepare Early: Start researching and applying for grants and scholarships as early as possible, as many have early deadlines. Give yourself plenty of time to gather necessary documents and write thoughtful applications.

Tailor Your Application: Customize each application to highlight how your goals align with the mission of the grant or scholarship provider. Clearly explain how the funds will help you achieve your objectives and benefit the community you’ll be serving.

Gather Strong References: Secure letters of recommendation from past supervisors, professors, or community leaders who can vouch for your commitment, skills, and suitability for the volunteer program.

Fundraising Ideas


Platforms: Use popular crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, or Indiegogo to raise money. These platforms are user-friendly and have a wide reach.

Create a Compelling Campaign: Share your story, explain your volunteer goals, and outline how the funds will be used. Include photos and videos to make your campaign more engaging and personal.

Promote Widely: Share your campaign on social media, via email, and through community networks. Regularly update your supporters on your progress and express gratitude for their contributions.

Events and Activities

Host Fundraising Events: Organize events such as bake sales, car washes, charity runs, or silent auctions. These events can engage your community and raise substantial funds.

Community Events: Partner with local businesses or community centres to host events like trivia nights, benefit concerts, or art shows. Local businesses may be willing to donate space or prizes.

Garage Sales: Sell unused items to raise funds while decluttering your space. Promote your sale through social media and local community boards.


Creative Approaches

Offer Services: Provide services such as tutoring, pet sitting, or freelance work in exchange for donations. Use your skills and hobbies to generate funds.

Sell Handmade Goods: Create and sell crafts, artwork, or baked goods online (via platforms like Etsy) or at local markets. This can also help spread the word about your volunteer trip.

Social Media Challenges: Create a viral challenge that encourages people to donate and share your cause. For example, you could challenge friends to donate and post a photo doing something related to your trip.

Corporate Sponsorships

Reach Out to Local Businesses: Ask for sponsorships or donations in exchange for promoting their business on your blog or social media. Many businesses are willing to support charitable causes.

In-Kind Donations: Seek donations of items you’ll need for your trip, such as travel gear or supplies, instead of cash. This can reduce your overall expenses.

group in bali

Maximizing Your Budget

Track Your Expenses

Use apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), or PocketGuard to monitor your spending and ensure you’re sticking to your budget. Regularly review your expenses to identify areas where you can cut costs.

Stay Flexible

Be prepared to adjust your plans if you find cheaper alternatives or if unexpected expenses arise. Flexibility can help you adapt to changing circumstances and maintain your budget.

Save Money While Abroad

Take Advantage of Discounts: Look for student or volunteer discounts on transportation, attractions, and services. Carry your volunteer ID or student card with you.

Engage in Low-Cost Activities: Explore free or low-cost activities, such as hiking, visiting local markets, or attending community events. These activities can enrich your experience without straining your budget.

By carefully planning your budget, seeking out financial assistance, and employing creative fundraising strategies, you can make your dream of volunteering abroad a reality without breaking the bank.


Ready to get started? Find a program for you on our program page!

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