Volunteering is Not Free

Volunteering is Not FreeThere is a dire need for credible, honest social development. Social development programs, such as Buenas Cosas, depend on volunteers who donate money for their participation.

Those who seek free volunteering most often base their preference on one of the following…

But volunteers pay their travel expenses – yes, volunteers pay their travel expenses. Some volunteers pay HUGE travel expenses. Whatever the volunteer’s travel investment, it pales in comparison to what we’ve personally invested in Buenas Cosas. We have no issue putting our money, time and love into Buenas Cosas. We’re all working towards a better world and a better way of life. We all need to make sacrifices. We feel our volunteers should do the same.

But volunteers pay with their time and effort – why should they pay more? Buenas Cosas volunteers pay because the positive energy and good work is not enough to offset the costs associated with growing and maintaining a registered nonprofit social development organization.

We require a minimum $69 per week donation to volunteer and here’s why…

1 – This helps cover the cost of organic, GMO-free seeds, broken shovels, nails, cement, hiring local community participants who need the money/work, electricity, water, accountant / attorney fees and lots more. Please don’t kid yourself, there are real costs associated with growing and managing a social development organization.

2 – Buenas Cosas is nonprofit. Buenas Cosas is ethically and socially responsible, empowering eco-friendly community-based social development – permaculture. Your donation supports us and all the good things we do in Guatemala.

3 – Buenas Cosas owns no cars – no trucks – we use bikes and our horse cart. We use public transportation. We buy used laptops and shop at thrift stores. Buenas Cosas has no air-conditioned offices in San Francisco, or anywhere else for that matter. Buenas Cosas is REAL community-based, credible, nonprofit, sustainable social development.

4 – The world is not a utopia, yet. In the meantime, we have bags of cement, fencing, seeds and shovels to buy. We have phone, power and water bills to pay. It’s completely unrealistic to think we can pay for all of this without expecting a donation from our volunteers. When our volunteers arrive for one week and renew for another week, or eight months – that’s all we need. Our participants are eye-witnesses to the Good Things we do. These are people just like you investing directly, with their own money + time and love, in the good things we’re all co-creating here Guatemala.

5 – Buenas Cosas opened in November of 2011. We’re relatively new. Response to our programs and projects from our Partner Communities, travelers and volunteers has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re aggressively growing our social entrepreneurial income base. Indications are we’ll be fiscally self-sufficient in the future. One day soon we may well have adequate income to reduce/remove the dollar per day donated by our Coco volunteers. But, perhaps not. At the end of the day, we’re still in the business of doing good things and that means growth and investment. Should we subsidize your traveling / volunteering or do more good things for our partner communities (rural Guatemalan poor) and nature?

We don’t understand why there is reluctance by some volunteers to pay anything at all; especially after an out-of-country volunteer has paid huge money to sit in an aluminum tube and dump jet fuel all over the planet in order to reach their target travel / volunteer country.

We don’t understand why some people think the in-country organization doing of good things is not entitled to a reasonable compensation for the dedication, funding, love, tools, supplies and infra-structure required to enable a volunteer to do Good Things.

We feel Buenas Cosas volunteer donation guidelines are completely reasonable. We don’t drive Landcruisers. We ride bicycles and use public transport. We don’t use air-conditioning. Our office is a desk that sits next to Angelica’s bed. Our ‘marketing machine’ is this volunteer-made website and the referrals we receive from the good people who’ve participated with Buenas Cosas.

Considering the above points, if you still feel that donating a dollar-a-day is excessive and unjustifiable, please contact us and explain your position. We really do want the hear from you! Perhaps you have the ultimate free volunteer solution we’ve somehow missed. That would be awesome!

Unfortunately, for some people it seems there is little room for middle-ground. If you charge anything, it’s too much.

We draw the line here… we feel that any volunteer donating $69US per week to participate with any development program + meals + shelter, anywhere in the world, is reasonable and justified. In fact, it is required for the long term survival and assured growth of 3rd world social development that’s making our world a better place.

Perhaps you can find cheaper volunteer participation donation guidelines – perhaps even free volunteering. Before doing so please ask yourself, are you actually wanting to contribute towards the social development of the country you’re visiting? Or, are you simply using social development and your volunteering as a way to get a free housing+meals during your international travel? Whatever your position, know that we believe in manifesting Partner Communities who thrive from our association, not just survive, and we appreciate your participation and support to that end.

We do offer richer volunteer experiences for those willing and able to to donate more than $69 per week to volunteer. It’s a great way for credible development program to generate more revenue, grow stronger and do more good things.

Is there another way that works better? Perhaps. We’re open to discussing it all. But, for the time being, this is our best foot forward and we see no better way to manage our volunteer offerings.


Testimonials from Travelers and Volunteers


Traveler or Volunteer - which works best for you?


Bring Good Things to Guatemala, please