Allocation of Application Fee
Before sending volunteers abroad, we visit each country. Safety and quality of our programs exist because with each country we:
- conduct research on potential projects
- carefully select host families
- establish a home base
- personally interview/recruit local staff.
We also provide specific training to our in-country coordinators and project staff to ensure our volunteers will always have a safe and rewarding volunteer experience. Occasionally a full month’s stay is required to complete all these tasks. Following costs are involved in the program development:
- International travel of IFRE staff
- Room/per diem costs of IFRE staff during travel/training (up to one month)
- Advertising for host families, projects, coordinators in local newspapers
- Screening and selection of host families, projects, coordinators
- Training for project staff, host families, coordinators (occasionally training will involve renting space or providing meals during training)
Nearly 3% of IFRE application fees go towards program development.
If our program is not developed with careful consideration our volunteers could have an unsafe or substandard experience; hence our attention to detail and extreme care as we choose our projects, host families and home bases where our volunteers work or live. This is where much of our initial efforts and budget are spent.
Advertising is necessary to fill our programs with valuable volunteers. Without advertising, it is difficult to connect with interested volunteers. Therefore, advertising is a necessary and often costly expense. We receive nearly 80% of our volunteer inquiries through the internet. We use online advertising (Google, Yahoo, Go Abroad) and tangible marketing (magazines and by attending student fairs). Without advertising, most interested volunteers would not know about IFRE and the important and affordable programs we offer.
The costs involved in adverting are:
- Online Google, Yahoo, MSN per click advertising
- Advertising in Go Abroad and other volunteer directories
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to enhance web presence
- Study abroad fair in many colleges/universities (stall fee, travel cost, room/food)
- Magazine advertising
Nearly 12% of IFRE application fees are allocated towards advertising.
Staff Salary, Rent, Utilities
Staff salaries are minimal at IFRE. We are a non-profit organization and function as such. If you review the 990 forms at www.guidestar.org – you will notice directors of OTHER NON-profit volunteer abroad organizations with annual salaries as much as $300,000. We are very dedicated and hold strong personal beliefs in what we do! Our staff earns very low salaries, but is committed to providing meaningful opportunities to many volunteers like you. The cost of staff salaries, rent and utilities are:
- IFRE staff salaries
- USA office space
- Office supplies
Nearly 15% of IFRE application fees are allocated to Salaries, Rent and Utilities.
In order to provide safe and quality programs, we have established many field offices/home bases in multiple countries. There are many expenses involved in field operations. These are:
- Room and board (provided to host family)
- Airport transfer program (from airport to homebase or host family)
- Project donation (money or materials directly given to volunteer’s project)
- Coordinators and field staff salaries
- Travel allowances for coordinators and field staff
- Frequent travel costs of coordinators to visit projects/host families/volunteers
- Homebase rent (we have home bases in 11 countries)
- Homebase utilities
- Homebase cooks/security guards’ salaries
- Homebase maintenance
- Daily communications – international long distance calls to coordinators, etc.
Nearly 65% of IFRE application fees are allocated to Field Expenses.
There are many expenses associated with a volunteer program (a kind of business). A few examples are:
- Volunteer travel insurance
- Professional website maintenance
- Professional database management
- Insurance of employees
- International money wire transfer fees
- Bank fees
- Accountant fees
Nearly 3% of IFRE application fees are allocated to Miscellaneous Expenses.
Follow up Travel – Program Development
Annual follow-up visits to countries where we establish our programs are essential. This is important, even in countries where we have carefully researched and selected the programs. Many things can develop and change over a year. Field conditions transform due to a variety of political, social and economical factors. Staff changeover occurs, new programs are launched and old ones are closed down. Each year, we modify projects and host families and staff who failed to meet our expectations are asked to leave our program. Sometimes, we visit some countries even 2-3 times a year to fix major problems or make necessary changes in field situations. All this incur costs. These are:
- International travel of IFRE staff
- Room/per diem expense of IFRE staff (for as long as one month)
- Advertisement for host families, projects, coordinators in local newspaper
- Screening and selection of host families, projects and coordinators
- Training for project staff, host families, coordinators (occasionally space is required for training)
Nearly 2% of IFRE application fees are allocated for Program Development.
Therefore, excepting the 15% administration costs (salary, rent, utilities, office expenses- that is also a part of this program) 85% of your money is allocated to you and your chosen program.
My Sincere Request
IFRE is a small 501(c)3; we are dedicated to offering highly affordable and quality programs. It is important to note that not all of your money reaches the host family and the projects directly. It is imperative that we be upfront and transparent about our organization’s finances.
If we increase fees, we will also increase the relative amount directed to host families and projects, but this would contradict our mission of offering an affordable fee program. Rest assured that all our host families receive more than the industry standard portion of program fees paid (when compared to what other volunteer organizations offer). The local projects also receive either direct monetary or physical material donations (from IFRE’s U.S. office or from their local office).
We sincerely request all our volunteers and parents of volunteers please understand the costs associated with facilitating a volunteer abroad program. We are not doing this for the profit. Therefore, please help us promote this humanitarian program. Referrals to your friends/families enable us to reduce costs in the future therefore provide this life changing opportunities of many more college students and inspiring volunteers.
Your understanding is very much appreciated. Thank you so much for your interest in IFRE programs.
Murali Adhikari, PhD