Trad. Non-Profits vs. Volunteer Sending Organizations

The voluntourism field seems to be divided when it comes to the non-profits versus for-profits, but what about within the non-profit sector? I have heard a lot of companies describe themselves in different ways – some are development organizations some are volunteer sending organizations. Now that defining your marketing message is more important  than ever, how do you describe your organization?

Never one to stay away from controversy, I found this blurb in an email I received from a friend in the industry and wanted to get your thoughts on it.

My experience in the non profit world has lead me to see that there two main types of non profits who work with volunteers.  On type is non profits whose mission is centered around a volunteer and the goal is that they have a meaningful experience while make a difference.  Typically these organizations main source of income is the volunteer who pays for the service of the non profit.  Then there are organizations that are more like what has traditionally been a non profit.  Their main mission is the project/cause itself and volunteers are simply a part of accomplishing the mission overall.  It is important that the volunteer help the cause/project first, a meaningful experience is secondary, thought important.  These organizations primarily are funded through grants and donations rather than fees for services.   Grants and donations are to accomplish the cause or the mission and volunteers are one of many ways to accomplish this.

Volunteer Sending Organizations

Primary Mission:  The Volunteer Experience

Secondary Mission:  Sustainable Project/Cause

Primary Income:  Primarily fees for services

Secondary Income: Donations

Traditional Non Profits

Primary Mission:  The Cause/Project  (the orphanage, school, park etc)

Secondary Mission:  The Volunteer Experience

Primary Income:  Donations and Grants

Secondary Income:  Fees for services

3 thoughts on “Trad. Non-Profits vs. Volunteer Sending Organizations

  1. I don’t think the organizations can be divided into two groups. I think you can have an organization that gets its funding through volunteer fees, but still puts the project or “mission” first and foremost and the volunteer experience second. My organization (Voluntraveler)manages the volunteer program for a charity (Para el Mundo) so they can focus on fundraising and writing grant proposals. None of the grant money or donations will go towards supporting volunteers – 100% of it goes into the community. The volunteers support themselves and offset the admin costs of the charity with the fees they pay.

    As for marketing, I don’t think you have to choose whether you are one or the other, whether you are putting the project or the volunteer first. I think you can craft your message to present your organization as both a service to the project/community and to the volunteer. I don’t think one has to take precedence over the other in your marketing. I suppose if you did have to choose one over the other, which one would it be? Which one would volunteers be more inclined to “buy into”: a fantastic experience for themselves, or meaningful work that is really helping the community?

  2. Hello

    I am writing this letter on behalf of ‘ Hope Children’s Foundation ‘, an organization which was established in 1998 with 26 children by then ranging from 3 to 16years old. Usually, our children are from orphanages, poor families or impoverished families which couldn’t support them in school and other necessities in life and so we decided to bring them together to the Foundation and others were brought to us by their guardians. Hope Children’s Foundation aims to impart school education to the children who reside in the countryside and outskirts of the city and have no access to education. We have taken the responsibility of educating them as per our capabilities. Our organization has achieved measurable success during the past year in providing basic education to nearly 120 students and they have been promoted to the next class after they cleared annual exams in flying colours. To expand this program and help more needy children, we request you for some monetary contribution so that we can teach more number of children. To carry forward our ambitious projects, we request you to help us financially to expand on our Foundation quality and livelihood of the children. Any monetary donations are welcome and we will be highly obliged to you for your support. You can get more information by
    Thank you for considering our letter and giving your precious time. If you have any queries or you wish to know more details about our small venture, please feel free to contact us on the email,, or visit our website on You can also give a call on + 256 772 515 812, on all days between 9 am to 9 pm.

    Thank You,
    Director Hope Children’s Foundation
    Kayemba Kalema


    Our Voluntary Service in Kenya Programme is run by Education Supplements International which is a registered non-governmental (NGO) based in Nakuru, Kenya. It comprises both short and long-term volunteering.
    This is a volunteer programme that aims to give opportunities to people who love and desire to live, work and contribute away from their home country environment, contribute to the progress of humanity and participate in inter-cultural richness among people of various age, gender, race, academic and economic levels.
    Many volunteers have also played a significant role in poverty reduction and relief projects.
    1. Teachers
    Short and long-term teaching in baby-class,nursery,primary and secondary school levels.These schools are located in Dundori Division of Nakuru North District.There are seventeen (17) schools where we attach our volunteers (Details of these schools are available on request).
    2.Medical Personnel and Interns
    Opportunities available at Dundori Health Centre at Dundori Centre and the Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru town.
    They volunteer their technical knowledge in public and community utilities/facilities and projects like schools, womens groups, water projects, the construction of the Nakuru-Dundori road, village paths among others.
    Womens groups are involved in the making of African baskets, necklaces, bangles, clothing artwork for sale to generate income and improve their economic well-being of the rural women and youth.
    5.Children’s Counsellors
    Our organization runs the Dundori Orphans Project in Githioro Centre where a child-feeding programme is going on. Children’s counsellors have an opportunity to talk, comfort and guide orphans who are under the care of aged grandparents without much economic and academic means to assist these children.
    Please visit website for details of these project.
    6.HIV/AIDS Social Workers
    They work among men and women who are HIV/AIDS positive in this region with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
    7.Disability Helpers
    There are several registered disability groups in Dundori region who welcome the presence of disability social workers for encouragement and involvement in their economic projects.
    8.Community Project Consultants
    Men, women and the youth in the villages of Menengai Hill, Wanyororo, Tabuga, Gakoe, Cura, Githioro, Umoja, Nyonjoro and Kiamunyeki are involved in community projects to enhance their social-economic status and reduce poverty. Community project consultants have a big opportunity to offer their knowledge and technical expertise in this sector.
    The conservation and revival of Dundori Forest is a very active endeavour in Dundori Division. Tree planting by organized community groups present an opportunity for conservationists eager to preserve our earth.
    10.Sports Coaches and Teachers
    The youth have a very organized sports development and competition programme in both Dundori Division and Nakuru Town in soccer, athletes, basketball, netball, swimming, etc. Sports coaches have the opportunity to give their sporting talents to these young people who would otherwise be involved in anti-social activities like alcoholism, drug-addiction and crime.
    11.Relief and Development
    Distribution of food, clothing, mosquito nets and medicines in Dundori Division, slums and streets of Nakuru town and other needy areas, like in refugee camps in the arid areas of the North (like Turkana and Samburu Districts) and North-Eastern Kenya(like Dadaab Refugee Camp which is currently the largest refugee camp in the world), orphanages and Kibera slum (which is Africa’s largest urban slum) is an ever-present opportunity to individuals and groups.
    We also organize medical clinics by medical personnel from overseas in these areas.
    Transport to Nakuru town (which is the fourth largest town in Kenya and rated to be the fastest growing urban area in East and Central Africa) is easily available through public transport (called Matatu in Kenya, which are mainly Nissan/Toyota fourteen-seater vans) and is at most a thirty-minute drive from Dundori (15 kms. away).
    Phones and Cyber/Internet facilities are available only a kilometre from the place of accommodation.
    Visitors take a taxi from Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi and stay in a hotel or guest house for overnight, rest before taking a matatu at the Mololine Station at Cross Road in Nairobi for a journey to Nakuru which is 156 km (two-hour drive) from Nairobi.
    We offer a host-family accommodation at “CAMP DAVID” Guest House & Camping Resort where clean water, electricity, food and bed-rooms are available in a secure rural setting in Dundori.
    The volunteer contributes US$400.00 per month (4 weeks) or US$ 14 per day per person for food, water, electricity and general accommodation.There is also a one-time payment of US$ 150 for picking the visitor from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on arrival in Kenya.
    We encourage our visiting volunteers to be eager to learn simple Kiswahili (which is the national language in Kenya and spoken throughout East African countries) words for greetings and social meetings like Jambo!(Hi), Habari Yako? (how are you?), wewe unaitwa nani? (what is your name?), unatoka wapi? (where do you come from?), etc.
    Visas are required to visit Kenya by nationals of most countries in the world. We assist in the processing of a visa by writing a letter of invitation to the Kenyan Embassy or High Commission in the country where the volunteer comes from.
    To all our future volunteers and partners,we say:
    Looking forward to working with you.
    Kindest regards,
    Nicholas Ng’ang’a
    Executive Director
    Education Supplements International
    P.O. Box 3305
    Phone: 020 362 8347
    0703 905 770
    0739 879 260

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