Do We Need an Association? Take Two Secs and Give Me Your Thoughts

OK – after the conference there has been a lot of talk about starting an all encompassing association, so… What do you say? I’m game if you are.

But what would you want out of it, what would you be prepared to bring to the table and how could we ensure the same mistakes made by other associations isn’t repeated?

Here are my thoughts – what do you think???

Purpose of Association

This statement will have to be finalized but the basics would be:

  • Provide a website that volunteer organizations in all countries can access and learn from
  • Provide monthly webinars on marketing trends, voluntourism news and research, etc.
  • Organize geographically relevant conferences to encourage discussion/collaboration
  • Organize events throughout the US to promote voluntourism to the masses
  • Create a unified voice that can be used to pitch media, lobby government bodies, etc.



This is the only voluntourism association that accepts all members, no matter their geographical location, size, 501c3 status or duration of trips. In order to maintain a website and provide webinars and discussion forums I strongly feel there would need to be a small membership fee to cover admin costs.

Something like $200/year is doable for most companies, and then I think we can adjust that down appropriately to countries with lower currency values like Nepal, China, etc.

I feel that if people are required to invest their money in an association they are that much more devoted to getting value out of that investment and will pay attention to conferences, forums, webinars.



In order to get buy in from all branches of the voluntourism industry I strongly think that the association must be managed by a neutral party and not by a group of companies. I suggest a full time manager that stays constant and then every year a new board of directors is voted on by the membership. The board of directors would consist of voluntourism company owners who are willing to have 6 annual meetings (via phone) on the state of the association. Ideally this would be a board of five people; with new nominations being cast each year (board members may be voted back into office but there will always be new people nominated to keep the peace).


3 thoughts on “Do We Need an Association? Take Two Secs and Give Me Your Thoughts

  1. Jen Fry, Green Guardians program in Tasmania, Australia.

    Many of the above points under ‘purpose’ seem to be met by, are you ‘reinventing the wheel’? Could an international association be housed with them, rather than creating a new organisation? Perhaps there is some background information/history I am missing??

    Either way – I am interested.

  2. To be honest most people think is focused primarily on the traveler and not on the companies that send volunteers. There are also political reasons that would make that impossible, that’s why I think a neutral body governed by a board of companies that are elected members would be a better fit.

    There are many people planning associations right now as the need is great – this is the chance for people to weigh in and say what they want.

  3. Hi Alexia,
    Thanks for putting it out there. although i hope for an international body that would try to regulate volunteer tourism, i feel there are some who already does this. to cut a long story short, what would be the difference between this body you are suggesting & SAVE for example. i understand that SAVE is a place of networking between NGOs and tour operators. My greatest concern is how to make it truly ethical and avoid using the children & the disabled as beggars and tools for other to earn more money.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s