I would like to make some comments on this topic and hear from others.
I'm presently in Tanzania with my 18 year old daughters. We signed up and paid abour $1200 each for a 2 week posting with an orphanage/school. We were promised 24/7 support, airport pickup etc. The organization is called IFRE (International Fund for Research and Education) and states it is a non-profit organization out of Dallas Texas. I have since found from the Orphanage owners that it also operates similar organization with slightly different price points and philosophies including Rustic Volunteers, Global Crossroads, Global Volunteers and others I may not know the name of.
My experience has been that the promises are meaningless. Our local contact who was to be a resource and source of help and assistance with various matters is never available, cannot be reached by telephone very often (apparently he lives an hour away in an area with intermittant phone service) and apparently incapable of following through on agreements and promises..
We have managed because the orphanage/school owners, Living Waters Children's Center are kind and helpful It has also been shocking to me to find out that the orphanage rarely receives payment (we were told on the website that this is the main reason we pay to volunteer). Instead they live on hope that some volunteers will later financially support them or send items they need.
I have heard some sad tales of woe from the orphanage owners and a Canadian Board of Director member. Most of the people who do this sort of thing are young high school or college students who do not have the financial resources or life experience to deal with this sort of abandonment. Some apparently fly home before time others spend days crying over the situation.
This organization sends people to a dozen places over the globe. I can only speak of our experience here in Tanzania.
The Orphanage here is doing a good job in a difficult situation from what I have seen. I am impressed by their school, the Yakina Primary School. They would prefer to have volunteers come to them directly but lack the knowledge and funds to set themselves up in the way that these organizations do.
If you want to see more examples google global volunteer work or similar or there is a website called goabroad.com that lists many of them.
I just think there needs to be a vetting service or some kind of tripadvisor for these organizations.
I have complained by e-mail and I intend to write to the government agency that licenses and regulates this organization. Probably the IRS would be interested to hear how little non-profit there seems to be in this group of organizations.
Do others have similar or better experiences? How about starting a list of the good ones on this website. I might do this again despite my experience here but certainly not through IFRE or its affiliates.