State of the Industry Survey – Please Reply

How many times has a reporter asked you what the size of the voluntourism market in the US is?  Last year we came up with some real numbers for the first time thanks to your help. This year we want to continue the research to see if the field has grown/shrunk/etc. So please participate so we can get an accurate pulse of the industry, this will help all of us.

All participants’ information will be kept strictly confidential and only the results, and a total list of companies that participated, will be produced – for free, for all to see.

This year we have also partnered with to learn some insights from the volunteer themselves. We’ve developed a basic survey that we’re hoping you will send to your mailing list of volunteers. The questions are quick and straight forward but will help give everyone an idea of motivations and volunteer mindset.

So there are two ways to participate: wait until I call and harass you or just send me an email with your answers (much appreciated). Also let me know if you’d be willing to have send the volunteer survey out and I will send you a survey that is branded for your organization.

Criteria to qualify as an operator in this survey:
– Have a US office
– Send US volunteers abroad
– Not faith based in anyway
– Volunteers have to pay to volunteer
– Travelers work for more than 4 days of straight volunteering (the idea with this is to eliminate the adventure companies that offer voluntourism as an activity)

Questions for operators that meet the criteria:

– To which countries do you currently send volunteers?

– What is the most popular activity for your volunteers? Building; Community Development; Conservation – Environmental, Wildlife, or Heritage; Scientific; Health Care; Skills Based Professional; Teaching; Other (please describe)

– How many volunteers did you send abroad in 2009?

– Do you expect to send more or less volunteers abroad in 2010 than you did in 2009?

– What is your return rate for volunteers?

Optional, if you have time:

– Do you feel the economy is affecting your business positively, negatively or unaffected? What, if anything, have you done to counteract the effects of the recession?

– Are there any valuable insights or lessons learned you would like to share with the industry?

-Which term do you most associate with your organization? Voluntourism, volunteer tourism, volunteer vacation, volunteer travel, volunteer abroad?

Global Action Atlas – How Will it Change Voluntourism?

Have you all seen the Global Action Atlas? I potentially fabulous tool for recruiting volunteers and also for raising funding for projects in need. Created by the team at Nat Geo its still in beta but looks really promising.

Here is a bit of screen grab, notice at the bottom #3 – Take Action: Volunteer, help carry out a project.

Is this sort of site something that we’ve been waiting for or might it further confuse voluntourism and the pay to volunteer model?

Check it out for yourself: Global Action Atlas

It’s Time for the State of the Volunteer Industry Survey!!

Woo hoo, I know you are all on the edges of your seats waiting for this post! =)

Many companies were happy to contribute last year to the survey and I will plan on calling all of you again, get excited, but would love to also include some of the newcomers on the scene or people that didn’t participate last year.

Here is last year’s survey, very painless – just a few questions… If you’d like to help us continue to get an accurate read on the state of the industry please send me an email so I am sure to send you the survey in June.

State of the Volunteer Travel Industry 2009


TUI Warns Against Discounting???

Just saw this article: TUI Adventure boss warns industry: ‘don’t be fooled into discounting’ has he seen that one of the TUI youth companies discounts every month??? It brings up an interesting question, should discounting ever be done in voluntourism and if so once you start the discount spiral how can a company every come out of it???

“The backpacking sector has been urged to hold its nerve and avoid discounting as source markets emerge from recession. Speaking exclusively to Thumbrella, TUI Travel managing director adventure Colin Stump, whose portfolio includes Adventure Tours Australia, Oz Experience and Western Xposure, warned: “The danger is that the recovery is on its way, and customers know what they want to do, but they’re holding on to their cash. That panics the industry and, instead of incentivising the ones who book early, we reward those who book late through discounts.”

Stump said adventure travellers are often ‘box tickers’ with a ‘bucket list’ of things they want to see and do, creating pent-up demand as they were forced to put off their travels during the global financial crisis.”

Teaching English Projects – Realistic in the Short Term?

Michael Kaye, CEO & Founder of Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions sent me a note about his recent blog entry, he brings up interesting points about teaching English projects that we all have heard but never address.

– Can teachers be trained in a short time and be effective teachers?

– Must there be a set curriculum they follow to keep progress moving throughout a long string of volunteers?

– Will volunteers want to spend a week of their vacation teaching?

– How short is too short and useless for the child?

(OK, some of these are my questions not his but…)

Read his full blog post here – let’s get the discussion started! Below is a snippet.

“So that’s the background.  Here’s the question:  If there were a very fast and easy to learn teaching method that after 20-30 minutes of reading would allow new teachers to jump in and pick up where former teachers have left off share knowledge of English with a child and indicate the child’s proficiency level to the next teacher, do you think you find rewarding spending at least two hours on your next vacation to the non-English speaking world sharing your knowledge with a local child?  Do you think other people would?”