How and why it costs to volunteer

Koala Clancy Foundation is a fully registered Australian charity, and a not for profit incorporated association. We receive no government grants, subsidies or funding. This gives us independence and an ability to act quickly and decisively when an opportunity arises to help koalas.

What we do

Our Koala Conservation Days for Locals are highly organised events, run by an experienced team. They do cost a small fee, and some people are initially surprised by that (usually after they see what we do on the day they understand fully.)  Paying for a volunteer experience is not unusual – almost every reputable volunteer program organisation worldwide charges a fee to participate.  Read why here.  This post explains why its important to pay for this special experience. 

There are usually two highly-qualified Wildlife Guides running the day – these Guides know the natural environment of the You Yangs intimately, they know the birds, the trees and the koalas in depth. Many of the Koala Conservation Days are led by Janine Duffy, co-founder of Echidna Walkabout Nature tours and President and co-founder of the Koala Clancy Foundation. Read about Janine here.

Also on the day there will be at least one Koala Researcher in the You Yangs finding koalas for the group. Our Koala Researchers find wild koalas, monitor their behaviour, take notes of their location, tree species and height in the tree. We don’t guarantee that you will see koalas on the Koala Conservation Day, but so far our success rate is 100% over the whole 3 years we’ve been running this program. Our Koala Research Project is the reason these days exist – it was due to our records showing a 46% decline in You Yangs koalas that we started the program in 2014.

On tree planting days (late May to August) there will also be two or three staff on the planting site before the arrival of the group – a co-ordinator and one or two people digging holes. Hole digging on the rocky, tough Western Plains involves machinery, experience and skill. This is not a job for volunteers, and the safety of our participants is paramount.

In addition, a few days before planting the site is prepared by the same two or three staff to ensure ease of access, comfort for our volunteers, and that we can plant as many trees as possible on the day.  

That’s 5 or 6 local jobs in a regional community you’ve helped create by paying to volunteer.  That’s 5 or 6 families who now rely on wild animals for their employment, and as a result, are more likely to fight to save wildlife than to be forced to take a job that harms wildlife.  

Add to this promotion, preparation, insurance, and administration and you may understand why each Koala Conservation Day for Locals costs us much more than the $20 per participant we charge. Fees paid by participants are much welcomed, but only deliver 20% – 50% of the cost of the day.

Why do we do it?

Luckily we have many generous donors and supporters from all around the world, who would plant trees themselves if they could, but as they can’t they are happy to donate so you can do it for them.  If you would like to become one of our supporters please donate here.  We are also constantly inspired by our growing number of regular Koala Clancy Foundation members – the support from these wonderful people fills us with pride. 

We would like to charge what this day is truly worth – at least $100 per person – but at this time Australians are not accustomed to valuing this type of experience. We happily pay over $40 per person to visit a zoo with thousands of other people, but an educational, small group experience IN THE WILD with researchers who’ve been working with individual animals for decade is not valued in the same way.

Its true – many of the communities near us on the western side of Melbourne are economically depressed.  We do believe in supporting these communities, and as a result we regularly host some participants for free or a low cost, we ran 4 free Koala Mini-tours for Wild Koala Day, and we are seeking some support to run low cost programs for schools.

We look forward to the day when Australians see the worth of supporting wild native animals, jobs in local communities, and education about nature. Please join us!

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