Good Intentions Gone Awry

I just had to post this –– they wanted me to write about them so here goes…


It seems that this horrific brand, logo, domain name is actually a good example of voluntourism’s issues with mixed messaging. Companies write on their websites (and these are verbatim):

“Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience.” – CCS, isn’t that setting the bar pretty high for traveler expectations?

“Projects Abroad is the leading volunteer abroad organization.” I’m sure you’re great but how are we gauging who is ‘leading’ this field?

“An unparalleled volunteer abroad program.” Global Crossroad, and you’re backing that claim up how?


You get the picture. I didn’t even go into the ‘save children from a life on the streets (in a week)’ descriptions of the actual projects. In order for this industry to continue to thrive everyone needs to take a hard look at their marketing materials and see if they are accurately describing their projects. ‘Save the world in 10 days’ web copy only leads to disappointed travelers who will bad mouth your company online, it wont help you long term.

Oh AND if there is a company out there that has a video from one of the project managers in country saying what volunteers have done and why they need more – you are a genius, please send me the link. I’ve been saying for years that would help sell more trips and bring volunteers to needed areas that aren’t easy sells.





2 thoughts on “Good Intentions Gone Awry

  1. We have a load of videos from projects and volunteers sharing their opinions of how our volunteer programme works for them – problem is we dont have a marketing department so yours truely has to master all the skills to post these .My priority is to send them to future and past volunteers – I know I just need to set up a link but that is such a steep learning curve! It is also yours truely that need to post our volunteer programme for 2012 here – SIGH – I will get to it!
    Keep on keeping on Alexia – I have just had a rant on my blog about the hug a baby pat a lion programmes and the latest that incensed me? counsel orphans……on a two week placement……………..
    there are no profanities strong enough to help me express my horror at such programmes

  2. Hi Alexia,

    I am a filmmaker and a volunteer and have been saying the same thing. I contacted several NGO’s about the possibility making a (free) video for them in the field as a marketing tool to increase volunteer participation and donations, and nobody accepted.

    I am currently on location volunteering teaching English myself, and am feeling a little confused as to whether this is the best way to make an impact and help. Particularly given my skills, it doesn’t seem that many NGO’s are prepared to go out on a limb and get a little creative when it comes to marketing their campaigns, however are all for using buzz words and sexy web graphics to sell their work. Would be a great tool for future volunteers/donors to see just how much of an impact volunteer programs can have in the community.


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