Choose A Charity
You would think that to choose a charity would be first; but it is not. The charities are not going anywhere, whilst flights and great hotel rooms are quickly disappearing. High season in your country of departure or in Cambodia, and your airport hub are going to affect the price of accommodation and flights, so go and book them today.
There is a lot of bad press about charities around the world, including some charities in Cambodia. In fact, it might put you off volunteering altogether. In addition to this, there are unscrupulous “charity organisers” and “volunteer companies” around the globe who are only interested in getting their hands on your cash. As we receive no payment from you or the charities that appear on our platform, you can be confident that we offer unbiased recommendations. We also suggest that you do not send money to ANY charity until you are on their premises and doing the work you volunteered for.
How do we check charities?
We are a group of expats, regular visitors and locals based in Siem Reap and throughout Cambodia. We have access to information that your foreign funded charity might not have. Indeed, might not care about. We do not broadcast how or why we vet charities; needless to say, anyone who we recommend is thoroughly vetted. If we choose a charity to appear on our platform, we are confident that it is properly managed and benefits Cambodian society.
How can you check that a charity you choose is bona fide
There is some basic information available to anyone with a computer or smartphone and the internet. A little searching goes a long way to ensure you choose a bona fide charity. An hour or two on the internet and phone will give you the confidence to proceed with your project.
- Does the website look real? Bearing in mind that a great website can be launched for a few thousand USD.
- If they have a Facebook page, do they respond quickly to messages? Noting that detrimental comments can be removed by the admin of the Facebook page.
- Do they have a phone number that you can call? Call the number (Skype etc) to ensure that they speak your language.
- Are the details of the founders and senior managers on their website/social media? If so you can Google them.
- Search the name of the charity + Scam. See if anything interesting pops up.
- Is the charity registered in Cambodia or any other country.
- Can you find previous volunteers. For sure previous volunteers will give you any information they have; good or bad.
- Forget about using expat forums as they will be wary of giving detrimental information.
- Does the information they give out all make sense? For example, they claim to help 200 children, yet the building in their picture would hold only 20; that sort of thing.
- Is the charity or volunteer company trying to “sell” to you too much with follow up emails and phones calls etc?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a starting point. As always follow your gut feeling. If you feel at all unsure about a charity, walk away.
What charity to choose?
Ensure that your skills are needed by the charity and your expectations will be met by the charity. We all have different reasons for volunteering.
- Do they have an induction program?
- Do they have a volunteer skills requirement document?
- Do you have the skills they require?
- Do you have enough time to commit to their cause?
- Do they want a donation? Giving a donation is expected; however, it is comforting to know how much is expected.
- Is there strenuous work involved that you are capable of completing without harm to yourself?
- Do they have proper sanitation?
- Do they have onsite medical care available?
- How many foreigners are onsite on any given day?
- What languages are spoken fluently, advanced or intermediate?
Some other bits and pieces to consider
- Can you claim tax relief in your country for any charitable donations you make?
- Can you extend your program if you want?
- Can you go as a group or a family?
- How close is the nearest international hospital?
- Ensure that you can communicate effectively BEFORE you go!
- Have you read our volunteer FAQ page? If you have a question; ask us and we will find the answer.
- Am I ready to go to my Cambodian destination? Or whatever destination you are headed for.
- What happens when I arrive in Cambodia?
- Will you do a blog or vlog?
- Will you be sponsored to raise funds for your chosen charity?
What Cambodian charity will you choose? What Cambodian charity are you best suited to and vice versa. Choose a charity carefully. Here are some typical and popular Cambodian charities that need help from volunteers like you:
- AIDS and HIV. From personal experience we know that these charities are crying out for help.
- Arts and Music. What could be easier than a few afternoons or evenings sharing your passion for arts and music.
- Conservation in Cambodia. Instead of consuming it maybe it can become a tourist venue with regular income.
- Hydroponics in Cambodia Do you have a green thumb? This exciting area of Cambodian development could see you anywhere in Cambodia.
- Sports Charities in Siem Reap. Use spare time on a holiday to help with your favourite sport. Very easy to join in.
- Working with Cambodian NGO’s. NGO’s can be quite picky and go for the academic types. If that’s you then this is for you.
- Cambodia Fish Farming Charity is our focus in Battambang. Can you drive a bulldozer or build a pond? do you know anything about growing fish? If you do, please join us.
Living in Cambodia
By now, you have booked a flight, arranged a great deal on a hotel, invested in proper travel insurance and chosen your charity. It is time to make a bucket list; time to not only finalise the serious stuff but also to organise the fun stuff to get the absolute most out of your adventure.