Sunday, February 27, 2011
Financial benefits of volunteering abroad
“One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.” ~Malayan Proverb. Volunteering is a selfless act and by definition it means the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. It’s a service that improves the quality of life for one person or the community in general. While volunteering there are few perks that come with it and little financial compensation. With some organizations the volunteers are given a weekly stipend to cover the costs of doing the volunteer work. When the volunteer decides to go abroad there are no stipends and it is more expensive for them to do their work. Their main expenses are flight fees, accommodation, meals and sometimes they pay an organization to plan and organize their volunteer work. It is hard to justify the expense of volunteering abroad but there are some financial benefits rather than altruistic benefits of volunteering abroad. Here are some benefits of volunteering:
When planning to travel in a country for a long period of time, it is hard to find affordable options. The main expenses of travelling are accommodation and meals. The cost of living in hostels, hotels, and dorm rooms, may eventually become expensive. Although there are ways of staying in a country for free like through couch surfing and exchange programs, volunteering abroad is the most cost effective way of living abroad. When the volunteer is working abroad, meals and accommodation are normally taken care of. Some organizations like the Peace Corps Volunteers pay their volunteers some allowance for meals and accommodation. Using organizations like these the volunteer will be able to travel more and longer in various countries. This way they get to save money on travelling expenses.
When a volunteer uses a nonprofit or not for profit volunteer travel service the price of volunteering abroad is tax deductible. This mostly applies to American Citizens who volunteer abroad with such an organization. All of the program fees are deductible for federal income tax purposes. Charitable donations can reduce the taxable income and lower the tax bill of the person who has made the donation – including sponsors if the volunteers are fundraising. If the volunteers itemize deductions on their returns, they may be able to take income tax deductions for a gift to a qualified charitable organization. The actual cost of their donation is therefore reduced through their savings on their taxes. The volunteers’ donation to a qualified charity is deductible in the same year it is made. The contribution is considered paid when the volunteer puts the check in the mail, or when it is charged in their credit cards. Most organizations qualify for a charitable contribution deduction but some do not hence the volunteer should check with 501(c) 3 Corporation.
For volunteers who are still in school, college and universities they, have a better chance of employment than their colleagues who have not volunteered abroad. Also the volunteers who are already working have a better chance to be promoted. Many employers and schools encourage people to volunteer, or study abroad. When a volunteer goes abroad, they learn a lot and they mature as individuals. After their work abroad, many volunteers’ minds are open to the realities that affect the world. They appreciate how to work with little resources and how to be more innovative. Another quality that volunteers get from working abroad is they learn how to think differently and to solve problems in a unique way. As a result many employers value such qualities. The volunteers who have gone abroad are able to command a better salary. It is also easier for volunteers to work for multinationals like United Nations, because of their experience living in another country.