FINANCES AND BUDGETING
Each year our budget varies. We raise money to pay for indispensable shared gear like workshop props, musical instruments, first aid supplies, drinking water, stereo systems, educational supplies, meals and transport for some of the schools or orphanages (hungry kids can’t play!)
We also make significant donations of practical necessities for the communities we work with as needed. This includes items and essential infrastructure such as additional classrooms, water supplies, roofing, bags of rice and medicines. At the end of the project, we donate our stereo system, first aid kits, tools, circus props etc– anything useful or desirable to the local schools and communities.
Our Spark Circus Director has her living expenses covered while volunteering two months of her time on the ground with the Project. The administration costs of our project are minimal– we don’t even have a formal office. They are usually less than 15% of the annual budget.
Our supporters and donors may choose to direct the funds they donate to a specific purpose, and we will use them as specified and report back with picture, video and stories for example, providing a school bus and water supplies to Greenwater Learning Centre in 201 The connections between what we fundraise and what happens to those funds is very direct and accountable. Nothing is wasted! If you are interested in seeing our budget or financial record, just ask.
Your Personal Budget
2019 spark circus tour will start on the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui in the south, and these first two weeks are paid by the volunteer. The islands are popular tourist destinations and as such, are more expensive than the time we spend in the North. Please budget for this – here is an estimate of daily costs. (Accommodation & travel will mostly be covered by Spark, depending on how much we are able to fundraise as a group. But please come prepared to contribute to the first two weeks)
Daily Costs: 700 – 1800 baht per day
- Accommodation, 400-600 baht/day
- Transportation, 200-400 baht/day
- Food, 100-600 baht/day
- Laundry Services, 100-150 baht/load
- Wifi/Data Connection – 200-1000 baht depending on how much data you use
Volunteers are expected to pay and make their own way to the Islands, and then from the Islands up to Mae Sot in the North. The earlier you book your connections to the South, the cheaper they will be.
- Fly/Bus/Boat from BKK – Samui/KPG – 2500 baht – 5000baht
- Train/boats to Samui/KPG 600 – 1500 baht return
- Bus transportation from BKK – Mae Sot 2500 baht
For the duration of our time in Mae Sot, Spark Circus will cover daily transport costs to schools, water, breakfast and lunch. Spark will occasionally cover group meals at dinner time, but otherwise volunteers are free in the evenings to eat where they like at their own expense.
Additional costs to consider
- Phone service: 100 baht will last about a week for non Smart Phone users; more if you don’t call or text much, less if you have a role that requires communicating with people lots.
- Internet/Data: TrueMove offers tourist SIM and Data packages starting at approximately 600 baht for 15days service. Wifi connections are available at the Northern accommodation free of charge however, if you are a high data user, or wish to have connectivity outside of our accommodation, please budget anywhere from 600-2000baht for the duration of the project. Expect to pay for internet usage on Koh Phangan and note, there is limited reception for mobile phone data on the island.
- Comfort food: Although you can eat cheaply at the markets and food stalls, you will often be eating with the group in places where food and drinks can run about 120 baht per meal. Plan for even more cost if you are hungry or ordering lots of Western food. Most of us seem to want to eat three times a day when time permits. Western confections and snack foods are available, too, for about what you’d pay at home. Fresh coconuts are around 50 baht each, fruit shakes can range anywhere from 50baht in the North to 100baht in the South, bottled water is 10-20 baht for a small bottle. It’s not a lot, but it adds up.
- Groceries. If you are planning to cook for yourself, or have personal supplies of food on hand, a Tesco shop for items such as bread, yoghurt, junk food, fruit and veg can run anywhere up to 3000plus baht. It is definitely cheaper to eat out in the North, rather than do big shops for groceries.
- Eating out. In the North, you can eat a main meal from approximately 50baht (non-western dishes) up to 200baht for meals like burgers etc. In the South, a local dish can cost approximately 150baht right up to 300plus baht for western meals.
- Laundry. Volunteers are required to have clean clothes/costumes for each day of work and washing can range from 100-300baht per load, depending on how much you are washing. In the North, it is easy to purchase washing powder and hand-wash your own clothes if you want to avoid the additional expense of laundry.
- Souvenirs: there are so many awesome options from Karen bags to gemstones to cat ears. The prices are reasonable but if you are doing a lot of shopping, bring extra cash.
- Consumables: there is quite a list of stuff you might use up like toothpaste, soap, bug spray, electrolytes, medicines, notebooks, pens, etc. The prices are relevant to your own currency so if you are travelling light, please factor in these costs.
- Costumes: Bangkok is a wonderland of costumes. Even if you think you brought what you need, you may not be able to pass up all the options.
- Extra transportation: in Mae Sot, you may want to hire a tuk-tuk to the Tesco or go out on sightseeing adventures. Local rides are usually 100 – 200 baht depending on where you are going. Some of the transportation on the island fundraising portion is not covered by the circus (ferries, buses and trains from Koh Samui to BKK, for example – see above) and you will need cash to cover them.
- Extra lodging: for decompression after the circus, whether you are staying in Mae Sot or moving on to other places in Thailand and beyond. 400 baht a night is a reasonable starting point, right up to 850 baht if you are wanting extra comforts such as air-conditioning and own bathroom.
- Healthcare: accidents happen and so do illnesses. Do make sure you take out appropriate travel insurance and check with your insurer about out-of-pocket costs and plan to have some emergency money just in case. Pharmacy/drug store prices are very reasonable for over the counter medicines.
- Travel Visa. The cost of your visa depends on what passport you hold and where you apply. It is a good idea to arrange your Visa before departing your home country and where possible, arranging a Visa that will cover the duration of your time on the project.
- ATM withdrawals. There is generally a 200baht ATM fee when withdrawing cash so if you are thinking to take out small amounts of money regularly, please keep this in mind. The maximum amounts you can withdraw are between 10,000-20,000 baht, and ATM’s only dispense money in multiples of 1000baht.
And a very important note: very few places accept credit cards!!
All volunteers are asked to raise a total of 500 pounds (or equivalent in your currency) via fundraising for the project. This amounts to around 100 pounds per month leading up to the project.
Our fundraising advisor will send you packs with material to help you and will be organising some online activities to help. This not only supports us financially, it helps us all raise awareness in our communities of the Burmese and tribal peoples situation in Thailand. It is also a fun way to get the energy flowing throughout the year, for us all.