WARNING: Ethically Corrupt & Money Hungry Volunteer Organizations

Today Carolina from Finland starts her second week of volunteer work in the Animal Rescue Center. This is the second time she has volunteered inside Ecuador, the first was for a similar center focused on protecting endangered animals in a place called Ibarra in Northern Ecuador which she loved and had an amazing time.

Fortunately, unlike many other volunteers, Carolina wasn’t ripped off or scammed into paying thousands of dollars for volunteer work which normally costs a few hundred dollars at most. A travel agent in London originally offered her the price of $2,000 to volunteer for two weeks at the NGO but she was wise enough to wait until she got to Ecuador before organizing the volunteer work and to her surprise she was able to find the EXACT same NGO for the price of $100 per week!

That decision saved her $1,800!

Sadly however, there was another girl from Connecticut in the States volunteering in the same center for two weeks who paid the corporation “I-to-I”, one of the biggest international volunteer work cartels in the world, $2,500 to volunteer for two weeks. This poor girl was devastated when she found out that all the money she had worked so hard to save up over the summer filled the coffers of I-to-I and a measly $200 of the $2,500 was given to the NGO rehabilitating the endangered animals.

So guys and girls be very very careful when choosing volunteer work especially if it costs over $1,000 month because it may turn out to be a scam. I’m not trying to scare you out of volunteering nor am i trying to convince you that is the only safe way to go because there are so many amazing programs out there.

Just be careful when organizing volunteer work especially if its with one of the big international companies. A great site for anyone interested in finding high quality low cost volunteer work in Latin America is which is an amazing directory of all the best programs on the continent (you will see us under Ecuador:)

Its a shame that these big companies give the entire industry a bad name but whats good is that i believe more and more people are becoming aware of the volunteer work scams out there and are beginning to avoid them at all costs thanks to altruistic websites like

About the Author
  1. Pingback: Are you thinking of Volunteering but cant get time off work?

  2. Karin K√ľnstner Reply

    Thanks to the service of Volunteer Latin America I found the perfect volunteer/internship program in Peru. Since I studied Biology I was looking for a good opportunity to help and gain some experience in the field of Marine Biology, and I always wanted to go to South America, because I was also curious about the culture and the people living there. With the service of VLA it was very easy to find the perfect match. They create a personal guide for you with which you get a lot of information about many projects that fit your desires. So if you want to participate in more than one volunteer project, this is very helpful. In the end I applied for an internship with an organization based in Peru, South of Lima, called ORCA, which is dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of marine mammals, mainly South American sea lions, in Peruvian waters. The team was great and I had an amazing time there and also gained some new friends. It was one of the best things I did in my life so far, and I will continue to choose VLA for my upcoming experiences in Latin America. Whenever you have any questions about anything, they reply promptly within a few hours, which is a further important point of their great service.

  3. Stephen Knight Reply

    Volunteer Latin America were one of the first organizations to specialise in offering low cost volunteer work in latin America, and in condemning greedy gap year and volunteer placement companies. See

    They have written various articles on the matter ( and have been quoted in other articles such as this recent one on the Financial Mail Womens Forum:

    • jake Reply

      Hi Stephen, you guys are doing great work. Little organizations like us need to stick together and get the word out against the money hungry Volunteer Work Cartels and their completely unethical practices in the volunteer work industry.

  4. Pingback: Favela Tours and the Negative Impacts of Tourism

  5. Pingback: Social Entrepreneurship in Ecuador

  6. Jake Reply

    I installed a new wordpress plugin for comments “Disquss” which is awesome but wiped all the old comments – sorry about that and feel free to post again

  7. Pingback: Ecuador Eco Volunteer » Galapagos Islands Environmental Issues

Leave a Reply