|The mystifying spread of agency fees |
The mystifying spread of volunteer agency prices
In Thailand, the typical family earns less than $400 a month. So, the question is, in a country where incomes and the cost of living are low, why are volunteer prices so high?
Search Google using the string "volunteer teaching Thailand" and you'll find the top 30 firms shown below. Beside each link you'll see a price range. That's the price the firm charges for a typical 2 week teaching placement. If there is an application or admin fee it's included in the price. Services provided, of course, vary. Some include transportation, meals, etc. Others not. But the groupings are intended to give a snapshot of pricing.
If you compare the price groupings. You'll see that all of the top 25 Google firms charge more than $500 except for 4 firms. Volunteachthailand is one of them. Twenty one firms charge more than $500. And 11 firms charge $1000 to $3000 dollars.
Is there a big difference in services provided? Obviously, we're a little biased. But we'll say this: well over 90 per cent of the volunteer placement firms which service Thailand are based in America or Europe. They are based close to their market and do a good job of marketing their services.
The downside is they have high overheads. HIgh rents, salaries, commissions, etc. These costs must be absorbed by clients. Typically, less than 50 per cent of the fees they collect are spent in Thailand.
On the other hand, firms based in Thailand, such as ours, have no offshore costs. Our expenditures on services are spent entirely to the local community.
We are the local operators for some of the West's largest placement agencies. We have testimonials from thousands of satisfied customers. But we also provide our services directly to the public. So have a read of our services. We could be right for you.
www.travel-to-teach.org/thailand/ $500 to $1000
www.thai-experience.org/ $500 to $1000
www.openmindprojects.org/ over $1000
www.starfishvolunteers.com/ $500 to $1000
www.volunteachthailand.org/ under $500
www.gviusa.com/programs/teach-adults-thailand-volunteer-project over $1000
www.volunteerthailand.org/volunteer-teaching-in-thailand/ $500 to $1000
www.projects-abroad.co.uk/volunteer-projects/teaching/thailand/ over $1000
www.volunteeringsolutions.com/thailand/volunteer/volunteer-teaching-english-bangkok-thailand $500 to $1000
www.podvolunteer.org/Teaching/teach-english-thailand.html $500 to $1000
www.uvolunteer.org/thailand/teaching-english-thailand.php $500 to $1000
www.globalservicecorps.org/site/thailand-buddhist-immersion/ over $1000
www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/work/volunteer/volunteer_programs_thailand.shtml over $1000
www.gapyearinasia.com/chiangmai-teaching.html over $1000
www.workingabroad.com/page/190/teach-in-rural-thailand.htm $500 to $1000
www.ifrevolunteers.org/thailand/teaching_english_primary.php $500 to $1000
www.akhahill.com/10_1publiction.htm under $500
www.i-to-i.com/volunteer-thailand.html over $1000
www.123-reg.co.uk/ more than $1000
www.vesl.org/ over $1000
www.tmvolunteers.org/ under $500
www.see-abroad.com/Accommodation.html $500 to $1000
www.gapguru.com/GapYearProjects/Community-Volunteer-Thailand $500 to $1000
www.goabroad.com/providers/global-vision-international/programs/volunteer-teaching-to-communities-in-krabi-thailand-57621 over $1000
www.traveltree.co.uk/volunteering-programs%5Cvolunteer-teaching-english-in-thailand.htm over $1000
www.isan-survivor.org/volunteer.html under $500
The fees charged by volunteer agencies for a typical two week placement range from $0 to $US 2000 or more. It’s true that amenities such as meals included vary among programs. Nevertheless agency fees are a highly controversial issue.
Volunteers sacrifice their time to teach in rural Thai schools. They buy an expensive airline ticket and forego two weeks or more of lying on a beach or exploring Thailand as a tourist. Thailand is a country where the cost of living is low. Food, transportation and accommodation are low in worldwide terms. It’s understandable that many wonder how some placement firms can charge more for a two week program than a Thai family will earn in 4 months.
More than 90 per cent of these top rated sites appear to be based either in the U. S. or Europe. These are the base operations for organizations who are located in the markets from which they recruit their clients. Their marketing costs and overheads are significant. And they must be born by the fees they charge clients. But on balance much less than 50 per cent of the fees they collect is devoted to support activities within the foreign host country.
Firms based entirely in the host country, in this case Thailand, have no foreign overheads. Their costs are entirely local.
Should head-office volunteer agency staff outnumber local staff?
If you’re volunteering in a foreign country, you need support on the ground in that country. Not in the country you just left.
But a lot of organizations don’t see it that way. Their head office staff often numbers 15 or more. Local staff, by comparison, could be three or four. That’s the reason foreign based companies often spend less than half their servicing costs in the volunteer country. They need to cover very high salary costs in the home country.
Where do you want your money going? To the country where you will be visiting? Or to the marketing-oriented head office of the country you just left?