A lot can go wrong in placing a volunteer. The volunteer can cancel their place or even a whole workcamp can be cancelled. How do you as a placement officer deal with this? Let’s start with the much more common one – a volunteer cancels.

If a volunteer cancels

In case of cancellation on part of the volunteer, the volunteer must inform the sending organisation. If the volunteer didn’t inform about their cancellation on time, the workcamp participation fee they already paid will not be reimbursed. SCI members make this clear in their conditions of participation.

The exact rule about reimbursement is different from organisation to organisation. SCI branches and groups are advised to keep the following procedure: Volunteers are only entitled to reimbursement, if they notify the concerned organisations at least two weeks before the start of the camp (3 weeks before: 75%, 2 weeks before: 50%). Some organisations reimburse the complete participation fee, but not the membership fee.

The sending organisation must immediately inform the hosting organisation, if a volunteer notifies their cancellation by e-mail with the subject VOL. CANCELS CODE + Campname + Full name of vol.

For SCI members using the OPS, the status is changed to:

  • “Application Cancelled before Confirmation” for wrong applications, duplicate applications, wrong entries, when the volunteers just decided not to join anymore the workcamp before having confirmed, even if they do it when requested to confirm. Basically, when we cancel a participation before the placement is finalized.
  • “Participation Cancelled after Confirmation” for applications where the volunteer cancels their participation after having confirmed it and after the place was booked. Whatever is the reason: change in personal plans, do not want to pay the fee (although the fee is to be paid at the beginning of the placement), medical reasons, tickets too expensive.

Cancelling a workcamp

Cancellation of a workcamp is a very exceptional action and you should prevent it. Branches and partners are encouraged to prevent camp cancellation by creating agreement forms with local project hosts, agreeing about dates, work, number of volunteers, accommodation, food, insurance, free days etc. Workcamps should not be uploaded to the OPS, unless this agreement form is signed and it’s certain that the camp will take place. You should also keepi in touch before the camp and encourage camp coordinators visit the project before the start of the camp

If you actually have to cancel a camp, this is the way to go:

  1. The hosting organisation informs all sending organisations which have placed volunteers in that camp from the first moment that the camp might be/has been cancelled.
  2. The hosting organisation tells the sending organisations the reason why the camp will be/has been cancelled by writing an email stating the reasons. The email should have the subject: CAMP CANCELLED + Code + Campname + first name + LAST NAME of placed vol
  3. The sending organisation informs their own volunteers about the cancellation: this is not done directly by the hosting organisation.
  4. The hosting organisation tries to place the volunteers on another camp:
    • Preferably this is another camp in the same country, within the same period and in the same kind of project and work.
    • If not possible within the own programme, the hosting organisations contacts other branches or partner organisations in the same country to ask them for an alternative.
    • If this is not possible either, the hosting organisation can try to find a workcamp from branches or partner organisations in neighbouring countries.
  5. Reimbursement (see below).

Does the volunteer get money back? In case we can’t offer the volunteer an alternative camp, they have the right to get reimbursed for the already made expenses (application fee and travel costs). In case we provide the volunteer with an alternative camp, but some extra expenses for farther travel have to be paid, if requested, the volunteer gets reimbursed for that amount.

If we can’t offer an alternative place to the volunteer and they need to get reimbursed, who pays for it?

  • The sending organisation pays back the application fee to the volunteer in case an alternative camp can’t be offered.
  • The hosting organisation, which cancelled the camp, pays back the (extra) travel costs of the volunteers. If not able to pay, the hosting organisation might contact the sending organisation that could help by sharing the costs.
  • In case they don’t find an agreement, acceptable for both sides, the problem is addressed by the hosting organisation to the IEC, which will take the final decision. If a cancellation occurs with a partner organisation, the international regional working group is consulted.