Mercy Ships Canada Shorter-term Crew Guidebook

Position Commitment Levels 1 & 2


Congratulations on your acceptance and thanks for your willingness to serve with Mercy Ships! The Mercy Ships Canada (MSCA) Shorter-term Crew Guidebook has been created to help inform and support your service. This Guidebook serves as the primary Canadian resource for information related to: 1) Service Budget Planning 2) Travel 3) Mercy Ships Canada Fundraising Account 4) Personal Expenses and Crew Bank Account 5) Required Forms 6) Media and Communications 7) Supporting Volunteer Crew

We are honoured and privileged to work alongside you as you embark on this magnificent journey.

Mercy Ships Canada operates in accordance with all Canadian laws, including the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency. While Mercy Ships strives for uniformity in terms of practices and procedures for all crew members, the national laws of each country are explicitly recognized and acknowledged in the provision of information in this guidebook. Thus, for Canadians, information in this guidebook supersedes other background information that you may have viewed either electronically or in print. Pay close attention to the section on fundraising especially!



To assist crew members with planning their budget, a Service Budget Package is provided. The information will help guide the budget planning process for your service. These are required documents and will be assigned to you through the Mercy Ships Portal upon your official acceptance.

When completing your Service Budget Worksheet, only eligible expenses can be listed. For expenses incurred in US dollars (crew fees and TTc Top-Up Insurance) the exchange rate is estimated at $1.40 Canadian dollars.

Eligible Service Expenses

  • Crew fees
  • Economy airfare and travel insurance
  • Vaccinations and antimalarial medication*
  • Travel insurance (optional)*
  • International Driver’s License*

Non-Eligible Service Expenses

  • Additional flights for vacation purposes, PTO, business class flights, extra bags
  • Incidentals (i.e. outings, purchases at the café and ship shop, gifts, SIM card, etc.)
  • Postage cost for items and packages
  • Expenses incurred from home during your service (i.e. rent, mortgage, vehicle payments, insurance, etc.)

* These expenses must be paid out of pocket. Reimbursement may occur with proof of purchase (original receipts or photo) and is at the discretion of MSCA.

All budgets need to be approved by Mercy Ships Canada Management prior to start fundraising and making travel arrangements.



Any personal expenses incurred during a volunteer’s service will be their responsibility. Personal expenses include the non-eligible service expenses listed in Section 1. The amount of personal expenses depends on your individual spending habits and it is reasonable to expect to spend about $300 US per month while serving with Mercy Ships.

Crew Bank and Personal Expenses (for more information contact your Volunteer Coordinator)

Once you arrive on the hospital ship you may go to the crew bank, where you can set up a crew bank account. A crew bank account is a safe and convenient place for you to store your money while you are on the ship. Funds can be deposited into your crew bank account via US cash, credit card (with a 3% service fee added), or US money draft. Once you have funds in your crew bank account it can be debited (using Mercy Ships ID badge) to pay for items that you purchase on board. You can also withdraw funds from your crew bank account in the local currency to pay for off board purchases.

The crew bank account is internal to Mercy Ships and is not connected to any outside banking network. However, it offers many of the same amenities as an external banking network. You may set up automatic deductions for on board purchases (provided there is a sufficient balance in your account). The crew bank account also offers free transfer of funds into another crew member’s crew bank account. Mercy Ships does not charge fees to cash a personal cheque. The cheque must first be deposited into your crew bank account and then withdrawn as cash. Furthermore, it is also possible to purchase local currency of the service host country if requested in advance.

This link can be available once you are given access to Navigator (internal web platform for Mercy Ships information).

When a volunteer crew member departs a Mercy Ships vessel (i.e. Africa Mercy or Global Mercy), any remaining balance in their crew account may 1) Be withdrawn in US funds or cheque 2) Be transferred to another crew member or 3) Remain in your account for up to 18 months to be used for another field service.  *Mercy Ships Canada does not oversee the Crew Bank and if more information is needed we recommend to contact their Volunteer Coordinator.

Even though Mercy Ships informs you that the money you raise is transfer to your crew bank account, this does not apply in Canada. For shorter-term volunteer, you are responsible to bring your expense funds. Please reach out if you need more details. Note that longer-term volunteer has a different process.

Difference Shorter-term/longer-term financial procedures

We have financial procedures for shorter-term volunteers (Level 1-2) and for longer-term volunteers (level 3-4).

For shorter-term volunteers the crew bank is available for personal deposits. MSCA financial procedures do not include wire transfers to crew bank accounts. Plan on bringing money for your personal expenses while onboard.



To help Mercy Ships Canada fulfill our duty of care to Mercy Ships and get the best value for airfare expenditures and overall service benefits for volunteer crew flights, Mercy Ships Canada has partnered with the Canadian Office of Key Travel. Please note that volunteers from other national offices may have different travel procedures and processes and Canadian volunteers are asked to follow the information in this guide and not rely on past practices or what other Mercy Ships volunteers from other countries are asked to follow.

Consistent with the fact that Mercy Ships Canada is a charity, Canadian volunteer crew members are expected to travel only on economy-class tickets, which include cancellation insurance and to have no stop overs on route to the field service. Additionally, volunteer crew Levels 3 and 4 are permitted to book one annual return-flight home associated with personal time off (PTO).

Once a volunteer crew member has received International Support Center acceptance and has completed all required Mercy Ships Canada documentation, the Canadian office’s Crew Services Administrator will advise the volunteer that they can begin the process of making their own travel arrangements through Key Travel.

Key Travel for Canadian volunteers can be reached at:

Key Travel Logo


Toll Free: 1-800-667-5559
Direct dial: 1-604-853-0751

Key Travel operates services on a 24/7 basis.

Canadian crew members may make their flight arrangements directly with the carrier(s) of their choice for any level of service they require beyond economy-class airfare, however, the crew member is then directly responsible for making their flight arrangements and for the full financial costs and associated risks (cancellation, delay, etc.). A Canadian volunteer making their own flight arrangements may still need to comply with the Mercy Ships duty of care travel requirements regarding advance notification of travel etc. and would need to deal directly with the staff at the International Support Center. Mercy Ships Canada is not able to offer an official donation receipt for volunteers who choose to make and pay for their own flight arrangements directly. It is also important to note, that it is the responsibility of a Canadian volunteer who makes their own flight arrangements to ensure that they have the necessary visas requirements to enter the country or flying on approved carriers by the host nation that may need to be observed from time to time.

In the event of the need to cancel or reschedule a trip, the volunteer crew member needs to inform the Crew Services Administrator (during office hour) and contact Key Travel (available 24/7) who will work with the volunteer either to reschedule or cancel the flight. Any refunds for cancelled flights or credits for deferred flights are returned to the Mercy Ships Canada account. Also, any flight costs increases will be covered by Mercy Ships Canada.


Travel Insurance for medical evacuation and repatriation is required and is included in the volunteer’s crew fees through Talent Trust Consultants (TTC). There is also TTC Top up insurance that covers extra medical and non-medial benefits and is available at

Insurance can also be purchased
through Manulife Travel Insurance:

Referral Desk Hours of Operation

Phone or email Referral Desk:


Phone: 1 (888) 220-5212

To obtain an accurate quote,
Manulife will require the following information:
• Agency code MENN001
• User ID: BM
• Departure Date and Return Date
• Sum insured (all costs); with non-refundable tickets be sure to cover the full cost of the ticket
• Preferred plan
• Age of traveller(s)
• Province of residence
• Traveller’s phone number

When you receive the confirmation from your Mercy Ships Volunteer Coordinator that you are cleared to and after checking and receiving a reply from the Mercy Ships Canada Crew Services Administrator.

MSCA includes flights as an eligible expense in your service budget and we recommend you go through KeyTravel to book your flights, so you don’t have to cover the cost directly. We recommend you book flexible flights (if dates or destination are modified) and humanitarian fare.  

MSCA is committed to cover flights that are only related to your service. The benefit to book through KeyTravel is that MSCA has continuity of care and is better able to support you throughout your travel.  

Volunteer crew are expected to travel only on economy-class tickets, which include cancellation insurance and to have no stop overs on route to and from the field service. 

Note that you are responsible to request a quote and confirm the route that suits you. Once that step is done, MSCA needs to approve the flight. 

Key Travel has expertise in international humanitarian travel, including helping people safely arrive and depart from their place of origin and destination. Therefore, the company keeps abreast of travel advisories issues by government agencies, the necessary travel codes to ensure the most cost effective pricing for each airline that includes considering of cancelation fees, change of ticket requirements, seat availability and season of travel that all impact pricing and costs.

Sometimes it is possible to see what appears to be a cheaper flight online but the full cost implication of a travel choice including baggage allowances may not be fully appreciate at the time of booking a flight using another service provider who may be online. Mercy Ships Canada also suggests working with Key Travel to assure a continuity of care in case of any issues rising. (ex. Change in service dates)

Following the booking, you can either fundraise to cover the cost of your flight or make a personal donation to Mercy Ships Canada which would be eligible for a Canadian official donations receipt that can be used for tax purposes.

In that case, you are responsible for the cost of your flights. 

You remain responsible to modify your flights through Key Travel and to communicate with us any changes that are made.  

  • If you want to use Reward Program (ex. Air Miles) ; 
  • If you plan to include personal travel ; 
  • If you have access to special fares you want to use ; 
  • If you want a premium seat (*exception can be made for medical reasons). 


Fundraising with Mercy Ships Canada

All volunteer crew are required to have a fundraising plan prior to arriving to the field service location. Creating awareness of Mercy Ships is a great way to spread the word about the mission of the charity and the role you will be involved in while serving on-board. All volunteers act as a ‘’third party fundraiser’’ for MSCA and do not raise funds for individual funds. Volunteers set a fundraising goal to cover their budgeted expenses and are asked to commit to best effort fundraising. Mercy Ships Canada also commits to cover the cost related to their volunteer service (approved budget).

There are many ways to raise funds for MSCA. For instance, volunteers may build donor support relations, blog, create prayer cards to be distributed, host a variety of fundraising events. Mercy Ships Canada also offers the support to create a customised fundraising page. A designated Mercy Ships Canada staff member is available to help you at any time with a fundraising plan.

Mercy Ships Canada Donor Relations

When a donor first gives to support MSCA, the organization sends a welcome package including a thank you letter for their support.

In accordance with the Mercy Ships Canada Privacy Policy on donor confidentiality, MSCA is unable to release donor information to our volunteers. Information includes the name, address, and contact information of Mercy Ships Canada donors.

Official Donation Receipt from Mercy Ships Canada

As a registered Canadian charity, Mercy Ships Canada (MSCA) can issue an official donation receipt for tax purposes to all donors who are supporting the mission of MSCA.

Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Mercy Ships Canada

The ethical fundraising commitment of Mercy Ships Canada acknowledges the fact that all money raised and the determination of any expenditures are confined to Mercy Ships Canada Board approved programs, projects or activities and is at the discretion of the Board. Thus, Canadian volunteer crew who engage in third party fundraising efforts accept the fact that they are supporting the mission of MSCA.

According to Canada Revenue Agency registered charity guidelines, only a “true donor” may receive issuance of an official donation receipt. A “true donor” is classified as any specific individual or organization that provides a “gift” (i.e. donation). Therefore, if you engage in fundraising (i.e. submit a donation that was raised via any fundraising initiative where multiple donations were collected), an official donation receipt may only be issued to each individual who made a monetary contribution. For this reason, you must notify MSCA should you make a donation for which you are not the true donor, as no official donation receipt will be issued.  Should the individuals who donated to a fundraising initiative wish to receive an official donation receipt, you can request a Declaration of True Donor letter from Mercy Ships Canada. You must include the donor’s name, address, and amount that was donated in order for them to receive an official donation receipt. More information regarding a “true donor” may be found on the Canada Revenue Agency Website.

For more information you can visit the MSCA Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Policy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fundraising

For Canadian volunteers, it is important to note that all funds raised are for supporting Mercy Ships Canada. MSCA appreciates best efforts fundraising and our goal is to support you and have ways to support your fundraising. We want to honour your spirit of service and your commitment to the mission.

We have a platform called ‘’Raisin’’ to create a fundraising page, which will introduce you and what you will be doing onboard. We support you in creating this page, updating it and making sure it is compelling to donors. We promote the option for donors to donate towards your MSCA fundraising page through our website and on our social media channels. Once your page is created, you won’t be able to access the back end of your page due to donor privacy. We recommend that you tell your friends and family to let you know when they donate, so you can contact them personally.

We can also support you in planning events (virtual or in-person). Please feel free to contact Catherine Tremblay for support in that area.

Fundraising can be ongoing during and after your service.

As a volunteer fundraising for Mercy Ships Canada, all funds are raised to further our mission which includes : volunteer crew and projects.

Donation Methods

MSCA offers several avenues where donors may make a one-time or monthly donation.

Cheques and money orders can be mailed to Mercy Ships Canada. In order for a cheque or money order to be successfully processed, they must be made payable to Mercy Ships Canada. Your name should not be written in the memo line of a cheque or money order. If your name is in the memo line of the cheque or money order it will be returned to the sender. Our address is as follows:

Att : Crew Services
Mercy Ships Canada
5-3318 Oak Street
Victoria, BC, V8X 1R1

Mercy Ships Canada accepts donations over the phone via: VISA, MasterCard, and AMEX. MSCA can be reached at 1-866-900-7447 between the hours of 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (Pacific Standard Time) from Monday – Friday to make a donation.

MSCA accepts donations through the online page created for your fundraising journey. Once the page is ready, you will have a link you can share via email or social media platforms to friends and family. At this time monthly donations cannot be processed through the online fundraising page. However, donors can set up a monthly donation by calling our office with their credit cards or sending a void cheque.



Completion of all required forms is necessary to best prepare volunteer crew for service with Mercy Ships. Upon acceptance to serve with Mercy Ships, volunteers will be required to sign Mercy Ships Canada’s Code of Ethics as well as a Conflicts of Interest form as assigned in the Application Portal.

Reimbursement Form

You can request a reimbursement for eligible service expenses (section 1) by filling out the reimbursement form below. Make sure to include original receipts or photo and your current address. Reach out to MSCA staff for instructions if you want to send documents virtually. Reimbursement is processed within a month. A cheque is sent to the address on the form.

Please note that the policies and procedures of Mercy Ships Canada may change at any time.



Share Your Journey

Engaging in media is optional for all our volunteers and you can choose whether you want to participate in a particular event or not. If you decide to participate, our team can help you to prepare for an event or interview. If you are interested in sharing your journey publicly to help raise awareness about Mercy Ships, please fill out the Publicity & Privacy Waiver form below.

This form is a legal document that allows Mercy Ships Canada to use pictures and testimonies of your volunteer journey to create awareness about our mission.

Media options may include local TV, radio, newspapers, and alumni magazines among others. Mercy Ships Canada also has a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn account where friends, family, and supporters can follow.

Join Our Social Media Onboarding Campaign

For our new volunteers we have a Social Media Onboarding Campaign. Every month MSCA posts on social media channels, and through e-newsletters to our loyal donors, announcements of our Canadian Volunteers as they join their vessel.

If you would like to be featured, please confirm your participation by filling out the form. Please include a high-quality photo of yourself.



Mercy Ships Canada staff member are here to help address any concerns that may arise prior to, during and after a field service.

Crew member safety is of utmost importance to us and you must abide by the rules and regulations. Please be aware that volunteering for Mercy Ships involves some risks that could result in personal injury, damage, or loss of your property and belongings. Always inform the ship of any concerns you may have regarding your safety and protection.

Connect With a Volunteer

We are able to connect you with Canadians who have “been there” and can answer questions you may have before or after your service with Mercy Ships. The Peer-to-peer service offers you inputs and advices from experienced volunteers so you can feel ready to serve and have the possibility to ask questions about life onboard. If you want to be contacted by of our Alumni (former volunteer), please fill out this form.

Life-changing Experience

We understand the changes your life will undergo before you serve, while you are on board, and when you return home from the ship. We encourage you to take advantage of all the support resources that are available while you are on the ship, through the HR and Chaplaincy departments. Please also ensure that you respond to the Crew Exit Interview questionnaire provided onboard. This will allow your perspectives to be known and help Mercy Ships to make improvements to the volunteer process. Shortly after your return home, the designated MSCA staff member will contact you to hear about your journey onboard and share opportunities you can join if you wish to stay involved with Mercy Ships.

Noémie Ntahonkiriye

Catherine Tremblay

If through reading this guidebook you have questions or need clarifications, we will be happy to help you.
Contact us at