Understanding Travelers Philanthropy


What’s Good about Voluntourism?


Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide recommends Habitat for Humanity for reliable Voluntourism experiences.

I encourage travelers to discern the differences that Philanthropic Travel and Voluntourism offer and to decide which experience appeals to them. Whether you prefer to spend a morning or afternoon connecting with locals as the guest of an Exquisite Safaris Humanitarian Partner (offering a tax deductible donation) and the balance vacationing (Philanthropic Travel); or prefer spending a morning or afternoon vacationing and the balance serving as a volunteer (Voluntourism) -valuable benefits accrue to all who collaborate.” –David Chamberlain

What’s Good about Voluntourism?
When it’s well-organized and thoughtfully planned, the traveler can indeed use vacation time to great advantage, helping the host country and gaining many personal benefits. Some of the most obvious pluses are:

* It meets the needs of busy people who want to volunteer and travel -with special benefits to families seeking a memorable shared experience and to the many adult singles (of all ages) who prefer taking vacation time in the company of others. Given the research about Baby Boomers, it seems evident that voluntourism will be very popular with them for many years to come.

* Well-managed spurts of volunteer help can be extremely productive for many types of projects that need a lot of willing hands. After a natural disaster, for example, the enormous clean-up and rebuilding work goes on for years, and a continuous stream of fresh recruits can keep the momentum going.

* Ideally, voluntourism is a people-to-people experience, in which both the helper and the helped become acquainted with one another. Just as Peace Corps or UN Volunteers strives to create cultural exchange and understanding, even brief periods of working together gives everyone involved insight into the world of the “other.”

* Positive experiences as a voluntourist can lead to more sustained service, either in return trips to the same country or to more informed and deliberate forms of volunteering back home for international or development causes.

Are There Problems with Voluntourism?
Note that above I said “when it’s well -organized and thoughtfully planned..” If the voluntourism organizers don’t truly understand the complexity of making this sort of experience successful for everyone, it can be more harmful than good.

A few issues are:
* How are the volunteering opportunities chosen? Are these real needs and can volunteers truly do something useful in as little as a week?

* Is there an application process or qualifications for volunteers or does the receiving site have to take anyone and everyone who wants to come?

* What’s the ratio of service to sightseeing? Voluntourists do not have to martyr themselves and can opt to play as hard as they work, but service projects that are so slim they only give a respectable veneer to an otherwise leisure tour hurt the entire idea. Urban Dictionary, after remarking that a volunteer vacation “looks good on one’s CV as a gap year activity,” adds this fictional -but telling conversation:

Voluntourist 1: Shall we go to Khao Lak to engage in a spot of voluntourism?

Voluntourist 2: No, tsunami voluntourism is old hat now. All the bars are closed and hardly anyone is living in the houses built, anyway.

Voluntourist 1: Good point. (pauses) Sierra Leone?

Vouluntourist 2: Are you insane?

* Does the project provide orientation and training to both the foreign volunteers and the local recipients of the service to make sure both sides are fully prepared to get the most from the experience?

* Who’s on site to troubleshoot possible problems?

* What exactly is the risk management process here? Are both sides protected from willfully bad conduct? How?

* What happens to the local project over time if some other destination becomes more popular? In other words, is there any commitment by the tour organizers to complete work started?

In general, the biggest gripe about volunteer vacations is that they simply expand the trend of episodic volunteering, in which feel -good bursts of service give the volunteer pleasure but do not result in much useful help for the recipients or the complex cause. It is also often noted that problems away from home can be more appealing to support than those close to home.

What Does this Trend Mean to Traditional Volunteering?
It strikes me as fascinating that at the same time we in the developed world have evolved frantic risk management policies and procedures, particularly the requirement of all sorts of police and other background checks, it has been possible at the same time to create more and more off -shore volunteering opportunities, seemingly without any screening demands at all. Is this a function of paternalism, in which under -developed countries are thought to be so needy they shouldn’t worry about formalities? Is it simply an overlooked loophole?

When important projects with few resources can welcome willing volunteers from far away, the risks may be worth it to both sides. Can this teach us all something about balance? Might we be able to apply this calmer attitude towards risk back home?

At the moment, the vast majority of volunteer vacation projects send people from North America and Europe to developing countries in Africa, South America, and Asia. This is largely because it requires money, time, and access to travel abroad and those three resources are available mainly in the First World. But perhaps someday the concept can be practiced in both directions. Hurricane Katrina was a disaster than engaged people from around the world. For Americans, it may be sobering but also illuminating to recognize that we might be recipients of the help of others, too. -Energizeinc.com

Learn More:
Philanthropic Travel or Voluntourism: Which one is right for you?
Who gains the most from voluntourism?
Collaboration creates Prosperity: Philanthropic Travel
Creative Capitalism: Partner with Exquisite Safaris
Exquisite Safaris Corporate Donor Philanthropic Advisory Services
Exquisite Safaris clients say…
The High-Purpose Company: Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide
Harvard Business Review Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector: Philanthropic Travel

Travel Connoisseur Magazine on Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide
US Air Magazine on Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel: Travel with a Heart

The Fable of Stone Soup
Understanding Philanthropic Travel

Fast Company Magazine on Philanthropic Travel
PersonalLifemedia.com on Philanthropic Travel
Philanthropic Traveler funded High School opens near Victoria Falls, Zambia

Philanthropic Travelers:
The The One’s Who Do: Visionary Philanthropic Travelers
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Marc Gold 100 Friends Project
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Chellie Kew
Milton & Fred Ochieng: Philanthropic Travelers
Jane Kaye- Bailey: Philanthropic Traveler
Richard Branson: Philanthropic Traveler
Angelina Jolie: Philanthropic Traveler
Oprah Winfrey: Philanthropic Traveler
Palm Beach Life Magazine: Philanthropic Travelers

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