More Media Attention for Voluntourism

Smart Money magazine just came out with a story titled ‘Goodwill Getaways’ that takes a harsher view of the industry, as we predicted. I cant find it online yet so grab a copy on the stands if you can.

Financial Times: http://travelmatters.wordpress.com/2008/11/26/financial-times-go-philanthropic-travel/ 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ambassadors for Children – Targeting Niche Markets

Ambassadors for Children founder, Dr. Sally Brown, was nice enough to take the time and share part of her recipe for success: differentiating in a competitive market.

 

“Voluntourism for Ambassadors for Children has been led to niche markets that include humanitarian work as

well as adventure travel, yoga retreats, and women only programs.    

 

Adventure travel include trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu in Peru along with working in a local villages on a feeding program.     Mixing yoga and humanitarian work have been very popular to trips to Rishikesh, India and Costa Rica.    In Rishikesh, the Yoga Capital of the World, a trip is offered during the International Yoga Festival late February each year.    

 

Women Only trips are offered to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where camaraderie is built through working together with children and enjoying this destination.”    

 

Read more about AFC’s programs in the latest article on voluntourism that came out in the Indianapolis Star this week: http://www.indystar.com/article/20081123/LIVING03/811230325/1085/LIVING03 as well as Biz Voice http://www.bizvoicemagazine.com/we-voluntourism.html

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Using Negative Keywords

In case you didn’t see it – great article on voluntourism in the Baltimore Sun yesterday!

Now that Google is using expanded broad match to trigger ads from “travel ppc”, getting a comprehensive list of negative keywords is a good idea. Below is a list created from the fab folks at SEOptimise that might be useful in maximizing campaigns. Happy Google-ing!

1. SEO Book Forums
Most campaigns will want a generic list of negative keywords. Things like “free” or “reviews” are good examples of negative keywords for any sort of campaign that sells a service or product online. The SEO Book has a huge list of negative keywords on their SEO Community Forums. You need a subscription to access the forum; I don’t think it’s worth getting one just for this but if you have one already then make use of this resource which is a great negative keyword starting point.

2. Google Keyword Tool
This is an obvious one but it’s still worth mentioning. When you’re using the tool to look for keyword ideas and you see something that isn’t relevant to your ad group then select “negative” from the drop down menu and prevent your ads from showing.  You can also use any other keyword tool in a similar way.

3. Google Analytics
Once you’ve implemented the Google Analytics filters I talked about last week you’ll have a list of the search queries people used when they clicked your ads. Not only is this a great for finding new keyword variants it’s also a good source of possible negative keywords.

4. SpyFu
Get a SpyFu report on your own domain name. SpyFu works by doings its own Google searches and scraping the results. If it says you’re bidding on “Price searches” then an ad with your domain as a display URL is showing an ad for that term. You can also have fun trying to guess what broad match terms your competitors are using based on their paid keywords.

5. The Google SERPs
Everyone knows that when you do a Google search the search query appears in bold whenever it is written on the results page. What people may not have noticed is that Google also emboldens (is that even a word?) related terms that it thinks are semantically linked to the search query. For example if you search “SEO” then “search engine optimisation” also appears in bold. If you see something in bold that isn’t relevant then add it as a negative.

6. Google Search Based Keyword Tool
The new Google Search Based Keyword Tool is designed to help you spot missed opportunities in your AdWords campaign. Like most keyword tools it can also be used to find good negative keywords. This one is worth mentioning in its own point because it also gives you suggested landing pages for each new keyword. If one of your existing PPC landing pages is appearing as a suggestion for a lot of negative keywords then this suggests that the page should be more tightly optimised to prevent Google matching it with other PPC search terms.

Another useful thing to remember is to keep thinking in terms of your ad groups when adding negative keywords; if you have an ad group for “red cars” and an ad group for “blue cars” you should add “blue” as a negative in the “red cars” ad group. Otherwise expanded broad match might decide that since your “red cars” ad group has such a great quality score it might display that ad on the query “blue cars” even if you have [blue cars] as an exact match in your other ad group.

There is also a useful summary of a discussion on how negative keywords are matched over at seroundtable which is definately worth a look if you’re adding negative key phrases rather than just keywords.

Copyright SEOptimise. Original article from our Search Marketing NewsSearch Engine Marketing

ProWorld – Mixing Study Abroad with Volunteering

Adam Saks of ProWorld Service Corps discusses the need for sustainability and community service in study abroad programs. 

Have a thought? Have a comment? Want to start a debate? That’s what the comments section is for. Just click on the blog title and then you will see space to leave a comment.  

 

ProWorld strives for sustainable study abroad.  We believe for it to be sustainable, study abroad must address economic development, social development and environmental protection. 

 proworld-graphic

 

 

Commercial globalization outpaces our understanding of social, economic and cultural realities outside our own. Students must continue to be exposed to other cultures and other social, economic, and environmental imperatives before us. Study abroad offers an extraordinary opportunity to expose students to these global realities that are tied more and more to their own futures as the world’s changing social, economic and environmental well-being offers us one shared destiny.

 

Impact on Study Abroad

ProWorld positions its Study Abroad programs to engage in sustainability. We work to combine our year-round sustainable development work with high level academics and authentic cross-cultural exchange to offer deep cultural and socio-economic insights to our participants. The benefits and impact this has on the educational experience are profound. These growth opportunities allow participants to do more than bear witness to the struggles of daily life abroad. The nature of project engagement allows students to strive for and share in the periodic successes that are a part of our ongoing community outreach and development projects.

 

A Model of Sustainability

The ProWorld Service Corps is a social enterprise committed to social and economic development, empowering communities and cultivating educated compassionate global citizens. PWSC employs a self sustaining business model and not-for-profit organizations to fund 99% of its development efforts. As a social enterprise committed to sustainable development of its communities, it is also fundamentally self-sustaining and self-sufficient in its means of funding its own work within the communities.

 

Google Releases SEO Starter Guide

A lot of us are constantly struggling for Google rank, so its great news that last week Google threw the world a bone and put out an SEO starter guide. If you haven’t already seen it I recommend having a look. Most of what’s in it you’ll probably be familiar with but in case you’re not, this SEO guide comes from the Gods of Google so…

Google SEO Starter Guide

Happy Monday!

CNN Covers Volunteer Vacations (again)

“Voluntourism is not about martyrdom,” says Christopher Hill, CEO of Hands Up Holidays, a London-based company that arranges high-end excursions that incorporate volunteering. “It’s about making a difference, even if you’re staying at a luxury hotel.”

With a growing number of hotels and tour operators offering trips that give back, the experience is more accessible than ever — from stints building houses with Hands On New Orleans and four-week HIV awareness programs in Thailand with the Global Services Corps to helping orphaned children in Kenya with Micato Safaris.

But the key to a successful volunteer vacation involves a few basic considerations: What kind of an impact are you looking to have? How will the project you choose benefit the local community? (The latter is of particular concern, since less reputable charities and companies that overstate responsible-travel claims are all too common.)

To read the full story visit: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/traveltips/11/13/volunteer.vacations/index.html

Global Volunteers Shares Lessons Learned & Celebrates 25th Anniversary

 

Michele Gran was nice enough to write down some thoughts on Global Volunteers‘ 25 year history, lessons they’ve learned and the path they have chosen for the organization. Congrats on 25 years! If you’d like to share in the discussion use the comments section, first click the post’s title and you’ll see where it is. If you’ve got thoughts on this share it with everyone.

 

Pathway of Peace; The Journey of the Heart

 

It’s been said that peace is a journey.  At Global Volunteers, we believe that’s true… literally.  Every Global Volunteers service program enables team members to wage peace personally.

 

As an international development assistance organization, Global Volunteers engages short-term volunteers to help local people realize their vision of self-determination and a vastly improved quality of life.  Many other catchy monikers have been attached to us, but our mission is international community service.  One person matched with one other, working hand-in-hand on life-affirming projects…learning about each other as they go along…leading to sustained change. Change occurs in the host community and in the lives of the volunteers. It sounds simple, but the execution is critical – and the difference between helping others, and harming them. 

 

The idea of combining service with international travel was largely a curiosity when Global Volunteers was founded in January, 1984.  Organizations such as Earthwatch and Habitat for Humanity mobilized citizen activists to assist with specific service agendas.  But for Habitat’s fortunate promotion by President Carter, their work was known only to the people they served. Information wasn’t shared globally then as it is today.  (Remember, this was before the World Wide Web…and even the office fax machine!) 

In a very real way, Global Volunteers pioneered a new trail for “average” Americans to reach out beyond our borders as “citizen ambassadors” for one, two or three weeks.

It was not without precedence. French pacifist Pierre Ceresole organized Service Civil International with young people from France and Germany to rebuild towns wrecked by the war. Although volunteer work camps later appeared across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and some travelers set off on kibbutz or missionary trips, international volunteering didn’t really hit the mainstream in the United States until Operation Crossroads Africa sent its first wave of workers on a six-week trip to Ghana in 1958; three years later, President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps. Still, these programs were largely for idealistic kids, not affluent adults.

Earthwatch’s rise was instructive. Out of necessity in the 1970s, the organization experimented with volunteer “science assistants” to help out at their foreign research stations (for which federal funding had nearly disappeared).  It turned out that adventurous tourists would actually PAY to trail behind researchers through muddy streams or dusty deserts!  (Who knew?)  The gamble paid off…. Earthwatch volunteers brought value both with their dollars and labor.

A decade later, Global Volunteers was born.  The term “volunteer vacations” was coined later by travel guide author Bill McMillan, in “Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others” listing Global Volunteers and some 100 other non-profit organizations (1993).


Over the years, we’ve engaged more than 24,000 humanitarians on work projects in more than 100 host communities on six continents.  Foremost is a focus on sustainable development – enabled through ongoing international partnerships, and knowledgeable volunteer preparation and management. 

 

Today, more than 2,000 NGOs as well as for-profit companies share the broad category of “volunteer vacations.” But not all offer genuine human and economic development assistance to the people they claim to serve.  Most well-intentioned volunteers may not realize that hastily contrived projects riding the emergent “voluntourism” trend can in fact, leave grossly unfavorable impressions in host countries –  and risk the wholesale reputation (and tax deductibility) of American volunteer efforts abroad.    We advise serious “voluntourists” to seek out full-time volunteer programs conducted by long-established NGOs who prepare their team members to serve ethically and sensitively in the host country.  Look for those that are grounded in a long-term community development commitment, and contribute not just volunteer labor, but funds to support the volunteer work projects.  In this way, you avoid exploiting local people for your own volunteer desires, and truly make a difference.

 

Now in our 25th year of international service worldwide, Global Volunteers remains committed and faithful to our founding philosophy of working at the invitation and under the direction of local leaders through ongoing development partnerships.  Engaging short-term volunteers on long-term work projects, this very personal “journey of the heart” becomes – one person at a time – a foot-worn pathway of peace.