We’re providing this list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) as a cheat sheet for people curious about the work and mission of Courageous Kitchen. We’ve also made an effort to explain without using charity or NGO (non-governmental organization) lingo. At the end of the common questions on this page, we have added FAQs specific to volunteering.
What does Courageous Kitchen do?
Courageous Kitchen provides food aid (rice, cooking oil, noodles, and sometimes toiletries as well), and runs an education program teaching English and culinary skills. For the most vulnerable families we also provide some help with housing and/or emergency medical needs.
What is your biggest need?
Courageous Kitchen is growing and we need more sponsors to help us reach more people. Sponsors are donors who give regularly, and we have a page for recurring donations to make this easy to setup.
A recurring donation is better than a one-time donation (even if the one time donation is larger), because budgeting funds is easier and donors who give monthly are more likely to be engaged with the activities and issues effecting the charity.
How do you raise funds?
The majority of our funds are raised through our cooking classes in Bangkok. We also have a cooking class in San Diego and hope to add more cities in the future.
Additional funds are raised through donations, events, and the sale of products. Most of our donors are individuals passionate about food and human rights. We are not provided any regular support from any government, religious, or social organizations.
Is this an orphanage?
Courageous Kitchen does not run an orphanage. People visiting orphanages or looking for volunteer opportunities with them is common in Thailand, so people often misunderstand this issue. Also, in the past Courageous Kitchen worked to provide safe housing to women and children who had been impacted by immigration detention in Thailand. Most of the children we support do have families, and we do our best to support them by supporting the entire family.
Where is your office located? Can I stop by? How can I reach you?
We do not have an office you can visit. Our cooking classes are hosted in Bangkok’s Bangna area, but our outreach takes place in another part of the city. For security reasons, we are purposely discreet about the location. Getting in contact with us online through our contact page is the easiest way to reach our team.
Why do you teach cooking? Do you want the kids you help to become chefs?
We teach cooking because we believe the ability to cook never ceases to be beneficial. There’s not much difference in providing knife skills to a child home alone who needs to feed younger siblings, and to a future chef. Some students will enjoy cooking activities more than others, but we believe everyone who participates will become more confident in the kitchen. This kitchen confidence is connected to overall self confidence, and is the main reason we aim to teach cooking (as well as English) to underprivileged youth. Other benefits include better nutrition and skills that can be used in a future vocation, whether culinary or otherwise.
Does your organization have a lot of overhead?
Overhead is an accounting term used to describe the cost of doing business or running a large charity. Due to public mistrust of charities people often use overhead to evaluate whether a charity is worthy of their donation. However, we hope everyone understands overhead can be misleading and advise people not to give to charities they do not trust. We’d much prefer you come along to a cooking class or follow us on our facebook page until you get to know us better, than donating blindly.
Since we raise most of our own funding through cooking classes, our organization rarely has overhead that is funded by our donors. This may change as our organization grows, but currently we do not raise enough money in donations or grants for this to be an issue.
Are you transparent about your finances?
Courageous Kitchen has earned a silver transparency star from Guidestar, one the largest charity search and rating platforms. You can view our profile here.
Transparency refers to how willingly an organization discusses or discloses their financial dealings. Since Courageous Kitchen is registered as a public charity in the US, we already comply with all US government financial reporting requirements for 501c3 charities.
Still curious? Our 2017 Annual Report includes a statement on our commitment to transparency in more detail.
Do you accept in-kind donations? What items are most needed?
An ‘in-kind’ donation is where physical items are donated to a charity. For example, donating a bag of rice would be an “in-kind” donation.
Courageous Kitchen does accept in-kind donations of certain items. We do not accept clothing donations.
If you are purchasing items, the best to buy are non perishable food items (rice, cooking oil, noodles, baby formula, canned foods, etc…), or toiletries (soap, shampoo, sanitary pads, body wash, etc.). In the past donors have collected unused items from hotels such as travel sized toothbrushes and shampoo to donate. We do not accept donations of expired items.
Is this a religious organization?
Courageous Kitchen is registered as a public charity and by definition a non-political, non-religious charity. We also do not discriminate against anyone based on race or gender.
By far, the majority of questions we receive are about volunteering. Even when we take time to answer people’s questions by email, they may still arrive unprepared for tasks they have committed to doing. For this reason, we accept fewer volunteers than other organizations. All of our volunteers must also understand that although the opportunity to volunteer is free, the cost to the organization is not. Volunteers who cannot commit or whose behavior is contradictory to our mission can be dismissed at any time without explanation.
Review the questions below and contact us if you’re interested to volunteer at any level.
Do I need to be in Thailand to volunteer?
Not necessarily. For many of the hands on activities you will need to be on the ground in Bangkok. However, we always need help raising funds and boosting efforts elsewhere. If you’re interested to join our online fundraising team, please get in contact with us.
What type of volunteering activities do you have available?
Short Term Volunteering (Entry Level)
There are not many short term volunteering activities in Bangkok.
We encourage those here on vacation to book a cooking class with friends instead of volunteering. However, we are always recruiting people who can give a weekday morning to visit and deliver supplies to help people in the immigration detention center (IDC). If you’re interested to visit the IDC, please contact us for details at least one week in advance.
Level 1 Volunteering – Teaching (3 Month Minimum)
The first tier of volunteering with Courageous Kitchen involves teaching at our Saturday School. All volunteers are required to submit a resume/CV with references and complete some training, depending on the volunteering assignment. Volunteers at this level must also have a working knowledge of Courageous Kitchen’s Child Protection Policy.
I have no teaching experience, can I still help?
Yes. If you speak English, you don’t need to have previous teaching experience. New teachers will be placed with an existing volunteer as an assistant teacher, and are not responsible creating a curriculum.
Can I come observe before deciding to be involved?
No. Space is limited and with number of children and volunteers involved we don’t have room for observers.
I am currently teaching in Bangkok. Can I volunteer to do something besides teaching?
Yes, level 1 volunteers can be involved with other efforts including event planning, grant writing, and detention center visits.
Where is your school located?
We teach outside of the city center, in the Don Muang district of Bangkok.
How many kids do you teach and what are the ages?
On an average Saturday we host upwards of 50 to 80 children. The ages of the children vary from pre-school (3-6), beginner (7-10), intermediate (11-14), and advanced class (15+). The supplementary classes are provided for free to the community and attendance is not mandatory.
Level 2 Volunteering – Interns and Core Team Members (3 Month Minimum)
This level of volunteering requires training in Bangkok’s refugee context, training in child protection practices, and 20+ hours volunteer teaching. In addition, a letter of recommendation from a professor or advisor is also required. Volunteers who meet these requirements will be entrusted to complete a variety of tasks, including specialized teaching, short training programs, mentoring, and well as self designed programs.
Do you provide a volunteer visa?
We do not provide volunteer visa to interns who have not yet arrived in the country. However, once you have arrived in the country and met other requirements, we will assist in providing the paperwork applying for a volunteer visa through a Thai embassy in a neighboring country.
Do you provide accomodations?
We do not provide accommodations for interns. However, you can contact us for general advice on areas convenient to the project you will be assisting.