Fee & Contribution

OG logo

People Before Profits

Operation Groundswell is a non-profit organization where any and all revenue is re-invested back into the organization through program planning, curriculum design, and modest salaries. Although we use business principles to maintain a lean and sustainable organization, we are required by law to 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.

The Program + Membership Fee

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!

You can find a list of our current program fees here.

What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group transportation on the ground

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it

What’s extra?

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:

  • Flights
  • Travel visas (if necessary)
  • Travel insurance
  • Independent Travel Time (ITT) expenses
  • Personal souvenirs

Our Payment Structure

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. Collection of the community contribution varies depending on the length of your program: for our 35- and 40-day programs it is collected separately, and for our shorter programs it is included in the second and third instalments. 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.

Program + Membership Fee Breakdown

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.



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!



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.

Community Contribution

We Value Solidarity over Charity

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.

Where Does it Go?


In Country Projects

82% of team members’ community contributions go directly to support projects implemented by the local non-profits, charities, and communities that we are partnered with. From constructing the first Ubuntu Blox styrofoam factory in Haiti to supporting literacy programs in Tanzania, our groups always strive to make a lasting impact. Each team contributes to one or two major local projects while abroad. Teams may also choose to allocate funds to the Alumni Project Fund, a communal pool to support alumni who have continued working on development projects with local partners.


Carbon Offsetting

There is no question that round-trip flights leave a large carbon footprint. If we are going to fly, we want to encourage environmental responsibility. For this reason, we carbon offset all of our programs. 10% of each community contribution is allocated to PlanetAir, a Canadian organization regarded by the Suzuki Foundation as one of the leaders in the industry.



Only 8% goes towards the administration of funds, maintenance of an interactive fundraising platform, and bank transfer fees. We do our best to maintain a lean organization!

Financial Support

We know that the cost of international travel can be high. That’s why we’ve set up a number of financial support options to help make this opportunity possible. As a registered non-profit, we want to ensure all of our programs are as accessible as possible for everyone.

If not now, then when?

Take the plunge and explore the nooks and crannies of our world – the OG way.