The proliferation of volunteer tourism—characterized as both a neocolonial tool of domination and a springboard for social justice and systemic change—signifies important shifts in humanitarian and development practices. These practices link the neoliberal logics of the current development paradigm and the moral imaginations of "cosmopolitanism," to the economies of exoticism and the spectacle of poverty. Central to this new mode of humanitarianism is a belief in the power of individuals to affect change through their capacity and willingness to travel, volunteer, and help the poor, despite recognition that volunteers may have little to offer in terms of long-term, tangible results. In light of this recognition, this paper shifts the analytic focus from the volunteers to the local hosts and the ways they receive volunteers. This shift reveals an array of contradictions in which locals seek out volunteers, despite widespread skepticism over what volunteers can offer them by way of development. This comparative study between Haiti and Tanzania illuminates the way different knowledges, politics, and ethics intersect to produce radically different strategies for engaging with volunteers. While negotiating the varied and sometimes conflicting agendas between volunteers, organizations, and local hosts, contradictions arise around negotiations of power, strategic mediations of difference, and substantive gains or benefits. Using ethnographic data, this paper analyzes the complexities of volunteer-host relations by examining the ways that hosts capitalize on these contradictions by investing in these relations, and by using specific strategies to maximize their potential gains.