Operation Groundswell is a social enterprise where revenue is re-invested back into the organization through program planning, curriculum design, and modest salaries. We maintain a lean and sustainable organization, and think about our participants’ best interests, not our bank account. When you join OG overseas, you can be sure that you’re investing in people before profits!
In an effort to be radically transparent, we have separated our program fee from our community contribution – so that you know exactly where and how your money is being spent overseas.
Our organization was founded on the principle of accessibility. We’ve set out to develop the most affordable programs possible, while packing in adventure, cross-cultural dialogue, and meaningful community service.
Our program fee covers all your expenses on the ground including lodgings and accommodations, three local meals a day, excursions, dynamic program leaders, and all the magic that happens in-country.
But OG is more than just a trip. We are a community of ethical travellers pushing to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. By joining us on a program, you’ll become a member of OG. The membership fee covers program design and recruitment, leadership training, a host of alumni activities, project monitoring and evaluation, participant impact evaluation, scholarships, and much more.
From the modest office space where all the planning takes place right down to that plate of pad thai you’ll be drooling over in Thailand, your program and membership fee ensures the highest quality of programming!
There are a few things the program fee doesn’t cover. We want to be up front about some of the extra costs you should expect:
Operation Groundswell’s program fee is priced in Canadian dollars for all Canadian citizens and U.S. dollars for all other nationalities. Our fee is collected in three parts. The first is a non-refundable deposit, which secures your place on your program and is used to begin making commitments on your behalf. The second is a membership fee, which is used to support our organization as we prepare for your program and mobilize the greater OG community that you’ll soon be a part of! The third payment covers the remainder of your on-the-ground costs, and is held in trust for that purpose. Our fee schedule has been developed in consultation with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario to protect you as a consumer and ensure that our programs remain financially accessible.
There’s more that goes into every OG program than you may think. Your experience on the ground is just part of the magic, but there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes. Download the PDF or expand the sections below to see the details.
OUR PROGRAM FEE
A huge chunk of your program fee covers all of your costs on the ground including meals, accommodations, excursions, local transportation, and stipends for your awesome program leaders!
OUR MEMBERSHIP FEE
Running a lean organization like we do means some pretty savvy budget setting and careful financial administration.
OG spends precious time and resources reaching out to schools and other hotbeds for curious minds to find potential backpacktivists like you! Once you’ve joined our team, our staff supports you throughout your whole journey, from your visa needs right up to your packing questions.
And even after your program, we’re still here for you! We work hard to connect you with other engaged alumni making an impact in their home communities.
Risk management training and resources for all of our program leaders, regional coordinators, and regional directors.
To make all of this possible, we need some of the basics! A small portion of your program fee goes to enabling staff around the world to work in spaces conducive to productivity and collaboration…that means office rent, utilities, and of course, phone and internet!
Those comfy beds with your host family? That delicious local dish? That mind-blowing workshop? Those enriching experiences with our partners? We’ve been working year-round to develop your program, plan your itinerary, and build a solid educational curriculum to make all that magic happen on the ground!
A part of your fee even lends a helping hand to your fellow backpacktivists! Through our Financial Needs Fund, we are able to provide grants for backpacktivists who might not otherwise be able to join us due to financial constraints.
We’ve set community contributions for team members on all of our programs. These funds directly support the amazing local grassroots organizations that we are partnered with on the ground. From youth empowerment to environmental sustainability, from education to health, our partners are creating positive change all around the world.
We encourage our participants to fundraise their community contribution as a way to share their journey with family and friends. We even have a dedicated financial support team to assist you in raising the funds you need.
Our alumni have told us time and again that contributing to local organizations has been one of the most rewarding aspects of their OG experience. It has allowed them to connect to partners and projects on a whole new level and better prepared them for their community service experience on the ground.
Please keep in mind that community contributions are not refundable at any point, except in the event of a program cancellation initiated by Operation Groundswell HQ.
In an effort to maintain working relationships with our partners that are based not on charity but on collaboration and solidarity, we prefer that you don’t bring any big gifts down with you or make hand-to-hand donations during program. Instead, we support our partners through the community contribution and by working closely with our partners to ensure that these funds are invested in local community-requested projects and initiatives in the most impactful way possible.
While not at all necessary, a small non-monetary token, like a souvenir or special food item from home, can be a really nice way to celebrate a new friendship or say “thank you” to your homestay family. If you have anything larger you want to donate, we ask that you contact our team at OGHQ to explore if it can be added to the community contribution.