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Cause Travel / Traveling for a Purpose: Social and Environmental Justice, Fundraise





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--It seems there is a trend to spend thousands of dollars on airfare to go to impoverished destinations around the world, and ask for their hospitality, in the name of raising money for causes like "something something HIV/AIDS."  Why not donate the money that was spent on airfare?  Why not volunteer in a local wealthy communities to raise money to support and empower the existing Community Based Organization working in impoverished communities around the world.  There seems to be a mismatch!

Unfortunately we are a bit dubious about most individual cause travel / fundraising travel.  While the initial proclamation might be totally honorable, the outcomes are not always as glorious and often completely obscure.

Though a lot of people purport to use this model to raise money for worthy objective, they are rarely willing to share their "business plan" and we never seem to hear about the results of such initiative.  Our confidence would be bolstered with more transparency.

Done well, foreign travel probably has a potential for raising awareness, but even here there are challenges: Most traveler arrives in a community with no history, no credibility, no local language skills, and under ordinary circumstances, engages with only a very narrow sliver of the people of the community, let alone a country.  And then, a not insignificant amount of the their time and resources can go into arranging food and lodging.  Would this be a model for a social engineering initiative their community of origins?

This is not to say that through a pro-active effort individuals can't raise awareness about vital issues to people and raise funds to support solution, but this takes more front-end effort than we usually see.

Organizing a Travel-Based Fundraising or Issue Awareness Enterprise

Unless you are an honorable conman (which is an oxymoron) the tradition way to prepare for a new endeavor is to make a plan.  It is not coincidental that well developed plans also greatly improve the chance of success of a project and can help maximize your return on effort.  The plan for a fundraising or issue awareness project are not so different from a "business plan":

  • What are your goals and outcomes?
  • Who is involved and what are their qualifications?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you connect with them?
  • How does your approach fit their situation?
  • What preparation and resources are you going to need to achieve the program?
  • What is your financial / fundraising / marketing plan?
  • What is your schedule for implementation?
  • How can you assure investors (donors) that the money will be used as intended? (Remember Charles Ponzi, Bernie Madoff, and a legions of others conmen)

There are "simple business plans" on the Internet that you can extrapolate from.

If you have a good program to show people it should be much easier to interest donors.


To Responsible Travel, Tourism, Cultural Programs, Improving International Understanding



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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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