There are plenty of large, experienced volunteer placement agencies based all around the world. They typically have a large staff and a fancy website. So, why should you consider volunteering through a startup agency that has one guy and a very basic website? Below are some of the reasons why you should choose GOAT Volunteers.
Does volunteering really make a difference? The projects represented by GOAT Volunteers may be small, but they make a significant impact on the people, communities, animals, and environment they’re assisting. The projects focus on addressing a need in their local community. However, they don’t just treat this as a singular issue. Rather, the projects often include external programs that help promote a multi-faceted approach to supporting the cause they’re working on. Whether it’s teaching a child the alphabet or reducing pollution in a wetlands area, you will help make a difference in your time volunteering with GOAT Volunteers!
GOAT Volunteers strives to be fully transparent with all aspects of the volunteering process. Want to know where your money is being spent? Want to know the challenges you’re going to face without sugarcoating them? If you have a question, you’ll get a straight answer, not some big business, jargon-filled runaround.
If I haven’t personally volunteered with an NGO (or haven’t had a GOAT Ambassador do so in my stead), but still partnered with them, you’ll see a big disclaimer on the country’s project pages stating so. These organizations reached out to me via social media and asked to partner with GOAT. While I’d prefer to have first-hand knowledge of their operations, scheduling just doesn’t work out sometimes. Rather than using this as an excuse to decline the partnerships, I accepted them (because I believed in their missions) and viewed it as an opportunity for some intrepid volunteers to scope out the NGO for me. These programs each have a discounted application fee for the first couple volunteers who review the placements for GOAT. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have the opportunity to volunteer with each NGO that GOAT partners with!
With a big agency, a percentage of your project fees often help pay for offices, marketing & advertising campaigns, and extensive staff salaries through a markup to the project price. At GOAT Volunteers, you pay an application fee that is in line with the industry standard. Your project fee is paid directly to the NGO, so you can be sure that 100% of that money is supporting the NGO and your project. This guarantees that you are paying the lowest possible price. In some cases, these prices are significantly lower than larger agencies that also recruit for the same projects. Trip add-on services are priced separately from projects and GOAT Volunteers does receive a small commission from the sales of these programs.
Having fun may not be the overall goal of volunteering projects, but it is essentially a guaranteed byproduct. You’ll be exploring new cultures, meeting amazing people from around the world, tasting new foods, and having life-changing experiences. The NGOs we work with put an emphasis on making the volunteer’s time in country an enjoyable and engaging experience through various activities and adventures. Some of our partners even offer additional add-on services, such as language lessons, SCUBA diving certifications, and trekking tours that you can pre-book through GOAT Volunteers!
As a volunteer myself, I (Justin) understand some of the fears and concerns you face when volunteering abroad. I’ve cleaned out monkey enclosures…they’re cute, but their poo is not! I’ve picked algae out of the wetlands and got soaking wet when the water went over the top of my waders. And I’ve tried to keep 20+ kids’ attention for an hour at a time. So, I’ve been there. I’ve also worried about getting my visa in time, whether or not I’d be a good teacher, and if the seemingly limited amount of work I was actually doing was actually making an impact. If you have a question or concern, just send me a message and we’ll talk it out!
In most cases, you’ll receive a response on all inquiries within 48 hours. On the rare occasion that I’m volunteering/traveling somewhere without WiFi access, you’ll know via social media updates. I hate having unread/answered emails in my inbox (aka, Inbox O.C.D.), so you can be sure I’ll respond as quick as possible when I’m online. In cases where I don’t have the answer immediately and need to confirm with our local partners, responses may be a bit delayed. I want to be sure you have the most accurate information, so you’ll always get a comprehensive response.
So that’s my pitch and I’m sticking to it! If you want to know more, send me a message either via the Contact Us page or on social media. I’m always happy to talk to potential volunteers! I’ll do my best to convince you that the projects GOAT Volunteers offers are exceptional and the experience you’ll have will be as well. – Justin