Your volunteer vacation bus pulls into the school and you all stream out. The children are all waiting in the courtyard. As you come in, smiling, happy children perform a culturally appropriate dance to welcome the volunteers. Sounds wonderful, right?
The first rule of trying to do good on a volunteer vacation is to do no harm. Unfortunately, far too much voluntourism involving children focuses more on making tourists feel good about themselves rather than protecting and helping children. Some of the harm is subtle and not easily apparent.
For example, in the example noted above, two things may be going wrong. First, did the entire school just stop its job of teaching kids in order to welcome volunteers? If so, how often does this happen? Once in a while on a special occasion like Earth Day or Valentine's Day is fun; too often and the focus on education suffers. What are the children getting out of the visit? Maybe the school administration is being paid for the visit; but what are the kids getting out of the volunteering?
A second apparent error is that the cultural exchange is one-way. The kids performed for the volunteers, but did the volunteers perform for the kids? It’s great to have respectful mutual cultural exchanges, where locals learn about foreigners and foreigners about locals. This kind of exchange encourages people-to-people connections and creates global citizens who think globally and act locally. A one-way cultural exchange reeks of cultural superiority, like the kids are paid performers—but not paid. One-way cultural exchanges rob children and locals of self-respect. BeachCorps will ensure that cultural exchange is mutual and respectful.
SAIH Norway has taken a strong stance against the darker side of voluntourism, often with humor, as in this video "Who
Wants to Be a Volunteer?" (Photo: SAIH Norway). Images matter. Responsible photography is critical with children. Not all parents want their children to appear in photos. Photography should not serve to boost the ego of the volunteer, but should empower local causes, including children. BeachCorps discourages selfies on a project, which tend to demean the cause and the children while inflating the ego of the volunteer. Particularly in poorer neighborhoods, BeachCorps will practice responsible photography and will restrict the number of cameras on projects, for security reasons as well as to ensure that photography advances the cause and doesn’t focus on sensationalizing poverty. A limited number of our volunteers will join us in capturing the project in photos and video, but under the condition that BeachCorps controls what is released in order to protect the cause and ensure we are conforming to their rules, including rules to protect children.
Other kinds of voluntourism cause worse harm. In too many volunteer vacations, unskilled volunteers actually teach classrooms in an endless parade of well-intentioned pedagogic incompetence. In BeachCorps projects, unskilled volunteers will never lead classes. Rather, they will be teacher assistants working under the supervision of a locally employed teacher. Our partnership with Rotary clubs will launch this new kind of volunteer vacation in the summer of 2019, with sales beginning in the summer of 2018.
The most notorious kind of voluntourism gone bad is centered around orphanage voluntourism, where kids are often separated from their families for a fee to pretend to be orphans. (Photo above: www.thinkchildsafe.org) Often volunteers stay a month or two with orphans, developing strong emotional ties to the children that are easy for the volunteers to break but not the children. Volunteer programs that are that careless with children might commit the ultimate sin of creating scenarios where unvetted volunteers might abuse children. That’s why BeachCorps has no current plans to work with orphanages, though one day we hope to provide scholarships to orphans who give back to their communities. All BeachCorps projects are designed to allow volunteers to interact with kids without creating the kind of emotional ties that can be harmful to a child.
Working with kids is great. It brings out the kid and the hope and the joy in us. Kids are our future. BeachCorps will create many opportunities to work with kids. Most of all, our long term goal is to ensure that half of all donations from BeachCorps volunteers go directly to scholarships for kids who are giving back to their communities. We are working on a plan with the Punta Cana-Bavaro Rotary Club to support Interact kids with scholarships, part of the Rotary worldwide network. Scholarships are a great way to ensure a bright future for kids while having fun on your volunteer vacation.
Because the best way to protect a kid is to empower them to protect themselves. That's the BeachCorps plan!
#Interact #Recycling #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #DominicanRepublic #Sustainable #Voluntourism #Voluntourist #FaithBased #Nonprofit #SustainableTourism #SustainableTravel #Culture #ImpactTravel #ServiceTravel #TravelDeep #LittleGrainofSand #Rotary
Life’s happiest moments generally have one factor in common: other people. Yes, there are many prayerful, introspective mountaintop moments, but for the true joy of living there’s nothing like enjoying a moment with others.
So probably the MOST important part of a volunteer vacation that is irreplaceable is people-to-people engagement. BeachCorps will always guarantee your volunteer project will include excellent people-to-people time. We will also guarantee that you will learn about the cause and why it’s worth supporting (wherever possible from the actual beneficiaries of the nonprofit cause, not just the nonprofit leaders). We will also guarantee you a fun, rewarding activity chosen by the cause that advances the cause, an activity that isn’t chosen to give a volunteer a false sense of having “made a difference.” But learning about the cause and having a fun activity can always occur outside of a volunteer project. It is the people-to-people engagement that really is the most rewarding and can only occur during the project.
We applauded the Carnival Cruise Fathom volunteer projects and were sad when they ended full-time operations on the Adonia cruise ship in June 2017. But Fathom continues today, having just finished an excellent series of cruises supporting Caribbean islands devastated by hurricane Maria, with new bookings coming on. And Fathom learned from their initial efforts that by far the most rewarding and memorable moments in their volunteer projects were not the working moments planting trees or crafting a ceramic water filter by hand. Rather, it was the real, honest-to-goodness people moments where Fathom volunteers got to see Dominicans in the places where they worked, ate, laughed, danced and lived. A beauty salon, a backyard meal of sancocho stew. Carnival received some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings from those projects focused on people-to-people engagement than any cruise excursion in the company’s history.
One of the top executives of one of our favorite nonprofit partners once told us “I’m getting tired of painting the same wall for the 10th time.” All of his volunteers had the false impression that the only way that they could contribute was by painting or digging or hammering something. If they didn’t do that, then it wasn’t “real.” We knew then that this nonprofit would love to work with BeachCorps.
Our BeachCorps volunteer projects may be service projects, with light work, or maybe the activity will be baseball. We’ll let the nonprofit cause decide what helps them best, and what helps is a variety of different activities. So we don't describe BeachCorps as "service travel" but "impact travel" because maybe you work, maybe you just play. What we will guarantee is that during your project, volunteers will learn about locals and locals will learn about volunteers. Too many volunteer vacations focus entirely on teaching the volunteers about the locals and their culture; BeachCorps recognizes that the cultural exchange has to be a two-way street to be respectful. Many volunteer projects supporting kids start with the kids performing some kind of native dance; that’s great, but why shouldn’t the volunteers perform something fun for the kids in return? Otherwise kids learn that they must "perform" to please rich foreigners. Hardly a way to change a culture of dependency.
It is from those two-way street, people-to-people connections that friendships and global citizens are born and truly great things can happen.
#Recycling #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #DominicanRepublic #Sustainable #Voluntourism #Voluntourist #FaithBased #Nonprofit #SustainableTourism #SustainableTravel #Culture #Fathom #ImpactTravel #ServiceTravel #TravelDeep #LittleGrainofSand
What’s better, a nonprofit volunteer vacation or a for profit volunteer vacation? Without a doubt one of the biggest problems in “voluntourism” today is the rise of numerous smaller, fly by night for profit volunteer vacations that are taking advantage of the growing demand for impact travel. Many of the worst horror stories involve travel companies that market trips to help but lack ties to reputable nonprofits overseas.
But it would be wrong to conclude for-profit is better than nonprofit. It’s more a question of how the structure of the organization advances or harms the impact of the volunteering. Sometimes nonprofit status can help because of the increased transparency and accountability involved in countries with good laws and regulations like the USA. In other countries with few development NGOs, “nonprofits” like orphanages have been linked to the worst kind of financial abuses that also put children in danger, like this ABC story: The Dark Side of Orphanage 'Voluntourism' in Nepal. BeachCorps personally knows of an orphanage in the Dominican Republic where the director was soliciting multiple donations of food and then selling the extra food to pad his/her paycheck. (Note: this is NOT an orphanage associated with any great nonprofits like the Charles Decker Foundation, which does amazing work helping kids who otherwise would fall through the cracks).
Some great organizations with a strong nonprofit leaning have chosen for-profits as partners in service and impact travel. Americorps Alums is the only national network that connects the nearly one million alumni of all AmeriCorps programs who have served since 1994. Americorps Alums has a partnership with the for-profit volunteer vacation Discover Corps when they just as easily could have chosen a reputable nonprofit volunteer vacations like Cross-Cultural Solutions or Global Brigades.
Show Me the Money!
One of the most important examples of a great private (i.e. “for-profit”) volunteer vacation firm is Pepy Tours, led by impact travel Ted Talk expert and practitioner Daniela Papi. Papi and Pepy Tours advocate and practice what few other volunteer vacation firms do in practice: separating the vacation from the donation to a worthy cause. Most volunteer vacations bury a small donation to the cause in the overall price they charge you, but if you ask them how much of your money actually went to the cause, they either can’t tell you or won’t tell you because it's so little. Separating the vacation costs from the donation helps increase transparency and accountability so that any part of the experience can be improved and monitored. Pepi co-founded Learning Info, where you can find the outstanding guide on volunteer vacations called the “The Volunteer Charter.” They also do excellent informational videos like Learning Service: Finding a Responsible Volunteer Placement.
Think about it: if a vacation firm is 100% nonprofit, then one of two things are true. One possibility is that the nonprofit firm handles or helps with all your logistics AND it also tries to set up not just your volunteer work, but your volunteer cause and its long-term results. Which means the nonprofit is trying to do vastly different things at once. That’s not easy. The other possibility is that the nonprofit is setting up or helping on all your travel AND it is connecting you to other nonprofit causes. In that case, it is a nonprofit with an inherent conflict of interest with the nonprofits it is supporting, since both nonprofits need direct donation support from volunteers and others to exist.
So in the end, it matters less whether your firm is for-profit or nonprofit. It matters more whether your firm gives you a great experience and, more important, actually makes the world a better place. And often that means combining the best qualities of a for-profit company (agility, innovation and customer service) with the best qualities of a nonprofit (integrity, social impact, long-term focus). It often means teamwork between for-profits and nonprofits! If you can do that, you’ve got the best situation of all!
#Recycling #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #DominicanRepublic #Sustainable #Voluntourism #Voluntourist #FaithBased #Nonprofit #SustainableTourism #SustainableTravel
Does your volunteer vacation follow the Buckeroo Banzai philosophy? Buckeroo Banzai was the 1984 cult classic that crossed the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres, including elements of comedy, satire, and romance. The most famous line in the film was Buckeroo offering a deep sounding but hilariously meaningless pseudo-philosophy: “No matter where you go… there you are.”
Too many volunteer vacations follow the Buckeroo Banzai philosophy. They seem to promise the volunteer that their program will help some cause, but when pressed they are unable to say how or why. They seem deep but are meaningless.
Let’s take a typical volunteer vacation. The bus pulls up to the school in a third world country. A bunch of tourists pile out. They go to a classroom where happy children perform a welcome song. The tourists clap and then present the teacher with a bag of notebooks and pencils, taking multiple selfies of the tourists with teacher and donated items. Then all the tourists pile into the bus and leaves. Sounds like you are helping kids, right?
Probably not. That little pitstop has violated just about rule about successful volunteer work. First, the project interrupted a classroom to please tourists in a way that had no educational value. Worse, it taught the kids to beg from foreigners. The project was a classic one-off project with no real plan to make a difference over the long-term or follow up, even if just to see that one week later the teacher hadn’t sold all the notebooks and pencils to buy supplies for their own weekend party.
RoadMap For Success. What that volunteer vacation project was missing was a roadmap for success. A roadmap implies many things. First, it implies you have a goal worth achieving, a destination worth going to. Was dumping a bunch of notebook and pencils off at the school a goal worth achieving with a volunteer vacation? Not really. The volunteers could just have easily sent them in a truck with no volunteers for less. But most short-term volunteer vacations with unskilled workers find it impossible to set goals that make a difference because the causes they are supporting have no strategy for change, no real goals.
A second feature of roadmaps are mile markers. Mile markers you tell you how close you are to your objective and whether you are making sufficient progress in achieving your objectives. So great causes are able to show you records for results. The first kind of results great nonprofits can show are outputs: houses built, kids who learned English, plastic trash recycled and kept out of landfills and water supplies. The second, more difficult mile marker are outcomes, or fundamental changes in attitude or structure or behavior that has long-lasting impact.
That’s why BeachCorps works to support FECOTUR, an up and coming nonprofit in the Dominican Republic that promotes recycling education and community empowerment. FECOTUR is backed by the sustainability leader in the eastern Dominican Republic, Ecoservices Dominicana. These guys are whizzes at planning, logistics, and numbers. They have a roadmap for success for FECOTUR, and BeachCorps aims to add a little gas to their tank and help them pick the final destination. They will avoid giving out free handouts to comments and instead will develop programs that help communities address their own needs, including in recycling and anti-littering. FECOTUR has embraced the philosophy of the great work on volunteering “Toxic Charity,” which shows how well intentioned volunteer work can often get locals to depend of foreigners to solve their problems. FECOTUR will show strong output data that their projects aren’t just reducing dumping into landfills and carbon emissions; they will show that their projects are changing a culture of dependency and littering into a culture of empowerment and clean communities. Both outcomes and outputs.
Avoid the Buckeroo Banzai philosophy if you aren't making an awesome and hilarious sci-fi/action movie. Make sure your volunteer vacation isn’t deep sounding but ultimately meaningless. Get a roadmap and plan your goal or goals. Such a philosophy is great for a fictional action/comedy hero. It’s not good for ensuring that your vacation helps real people. Because in the end, No matter where you go… make sure you want to be there.
#Recycling #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #DominicanRepublic #Sustainable #Voluntourism #Voluntourist #FaithBased #BuckerooBanzai #Recycling #PlasticRecycling
What is the cardinal sin of most volunteer vacations? Focusing too much on the volunteer and not the cause. Organized volunteer trips make this mistake in the pre-trip marketing to get volunteers to sign up, during the volunteer work, and then in evaluating the impact of the trip. As the classic work on sustainable development “Toxic Charity” showed, this cardinal sin isn’t limited to organized volunteer vacation firms (both for-profit and non-profit). Toxic Charity showed that many faith-based volunteer projects or other projects organized by universities or individuals or groups commit the cardinal sin in focusing on the volunteers, not the cause.
First, let’s look at the pre-trip marketing. It’s simply unrealistic that a short term volunteer project involving unskilled volunteers can have a major impact in promoting sustainable development. And yet the hype of many volunteer vacation firms would make you think that in one week, two weeks, or even a month the efforts of an unskilled local volunteer will significantly change a community, particularly when the volunteer doesn’t speak the local language or have a strong understanding of local culture. So often volunteers are encouraged to believe that their short time volunteering will have a significant long term impact. Volunteers think they will be greeted like Mother Teresa as they wade into a sea of grateful faces, with rose petals thrown in the path before them.
Volunteers are encouraged to see locals as helpless and in need because this view makes the volunteer feel generous and powerful. Even the tendency to “slum it” with mediocre to abysmal room and board gives volunteers the short-term rush of poverty themselves, relieving years of guilt in lives of privilege. “I will know the suffering of the poor by sleeping in a shack on a cot for a week.”
During the volunteer work, volunteers often want to take the lead, to leave their mark in the form of sharing great ideas and wisdom with locals. Instead of working with locals to help them implement and improve their own sustainable development plans, volunteers believe they will shine the light of civilization on backward people. Volunteers will take charge of the project, often overlooking or ignoring the wants and needs of locals. Most important, volunteers will often do the work that locals should have done themselves, thus perpetuating a culture of dependency where locals look to foreigners for solutions to their own problems. Often volunteers steal jobs that would have gone to locals, thus destroying jobs and businesses and the economic pillar of all sustainable development. Years ago, Conde Nast looked at the pitfalls of volunteer vacations in an article regarding volunteering in Haiti that still rings true.
Finally, too many volunteer trips measure their success in the enjoyment and impact on the volunteer, not local sustainable development. The trip is deemed a success if the volunteer “feels” good about what they did, if they got to meet some friendly locals, if they left their little physical mark in the form of some nails in a roof or paint on a wall. The trip is deemed successful if the volunteer was safely exposed to people in need before getting back onto the jet back home, where they can proudly post dozens of selfies of the volunteer with sad and/or helpless locals (as this hysterical video from SAIH shows). SAIH is the Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund that fights stereotypes in aid and development. All too often, volunteers work on one-off projects with no long-term plan or measurement of success and no effort to gauge whether well-intentioned efforts to help might have produced unintended consequences.
How do you avoid committing the Cardinal Sin of volunteer vacations? Focus on local heroes. Remember that on good volunteer vacations, the heroes are not the volunteers. Instead, the heroes are local leaders who fight for a worthy cause and remain on site after the temporary volunteers fly back home.
So in your volunteer vacations, support and empower local heroes in all three stages of the volunteer experience. Stress the focus on supporting and empowering local leaders in pre-trip marketing, making sure that volunteers understand that locals are in charge. During the volunteer work, make sure that local leaders are directing and approving work and priorities. Exercise judicious humility in trying to get locals to “do it another way,” realizing that locals might know something you don’t. Make sure that clear and appropriate economic support goes into local priorities, and not just into making the trip more fun and rewarding for volunteers. Finally, measure success in how projects impacted locals and helped locals. If possible, try to set up both short-term measurable goals and medium to long-term goals. Get real feedback from locals, including areas for improvement next time.
If you’ve successfully avoided the volunteer vacation Cardinal Sin, your thoughts and your photos that you share back home with your 500 Facebook friends will reflect your focus on local heroes. You shine as a volunteer when local heroes shine. In helping local leaders to shine, you might encourage some of your Facebook friends to come and support your favorite local hero!
#Recycling #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #DominicanRepublic #Sustainable #Voluntourism #Voluntourist #FaithBased
(Photo of Cristobal Rijo, Community Leader in Monte Verde, Dominican Republic promoting recycling and anti-littering)
BeachCorps is different from other volunteer vacations because we don't invent the nonprofit cause to please the tourist—or worse, create a for-profit “cause” designed to fleece the volunteer. Instead, we find nonprofit causes that are worth supporting and then bring the tourists to the cause. It's easy to understand that volunteer vacations should support worthy nonprofit causes. But how do you know if a donation to a nonprofit cause is well used or not? That's not so easy. But here are some ideas to guide you.
An Open Book, A Straight Shooter: Transparency and Accountability
Major US nonprofits have official IRS 501c3 status that requires them to report income and use of funds. For large, well-established nonprofits there are several online sites that help you gauge transparency and accountability. Mike Montali, CEO of Harbor Compliance, shared some ideas in The Huffington Post:
1. The IRS Nonprofit Charities Database has a tool called “The Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool”. Check to see if your donation is tax-deductible.
2. Charity Navigator rates charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency to help donors make informed decisions about their contributions.
3. GuideStar maintains information on 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Financial documents, such as the 990, help you evaluate the legitimacy of an organization. The 990 discloses where and how an organization’s donations are spent, including the earnings of top officers.
Helping the Little Guy: Help Little Nonprofits Grow
But not all nonprofits make full use of these online platforms, and many are good causes. In particular, causes that are focused overseas often don't appear on these major platforms. Furthermore, big nonprofits with lots of donors have the ability to fill out all the forms and show donors exactly how they spend money and the results achieved. But if we only support big nonprofits, then the innovations of small nonprofits will disappear. It’s critical to support worthy up and coming nonprofits grow and mature to the point where they have the institutional capacity to become more transparent and accountable in their reporting.
Eye in the Sky; Eyes on the Ground
So helping little nonprofits is important, but which ones? Which nonprofits can you trust if they aren’t on major online platforms? The fact of the matter is that if you are volunteering in a far-off land you don’t know well (which is part of the fun and learning) you need to find a trusted partner to help you find the good nonprofits. You need someone who is willing to stake their good name on a nonprofit. You need someone that has both an Eye in the Sky to see the big development picture to know what causes need support. You also need someone with eyes on the ground to know if the nonprofits are run by people worth trusting.
Measuring Success: Home Run Tally
Another key question for your volunteer vacation is: does the project describe what results will be achieved? These results can be of two kinds: outputs and outcomes. When you input a donation, any good volunteer project should be able to point to short-term, home run outputs: Hour of English teaching delivered; a home repainted or rebuilt; 100 pounds of recycled plastic recycled. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself this: beyond outputs, what outcomes does the nonprofit hope to achieve? Outcomes are longer-term changes like growing empowerment of local leadership; an expansion of a “pay it forward” ethos in helping others after you’ve been helped; a change in a culture of littering. Those important outcomes aren’t just home runs; they are grand slams in the World Series! And they require patient and a longer-term commitment to achieve. Your BeachCorps “Little Grain of Sand” by itself is not going to make much of a difference. But by supporting nonprofit causes that seek to bring about positive change over time, you can be a little part of something big and beautiful.
Earmark Donations for Great Uses, Like Scholarships
A great way to make sure that your donations to a nonprofit cause are being used wisely is to wisely earmark some or all of the donations to specific purposes that make sense. Wherever possible, donations should be restricted in their use to promote transparency and accountability. For example, many BeachCorps projects are going to limit the use of all or some of the funds to expenses directly related to the execution of the project as well as measurable long-term investments, particularly in scholarships for kids who are supporting the volunteer work. (Photo: Graduation at Puntacana Foundation supported Kheel Politécnico).
Scholarships are awesome. By earmarking funds to scholarships, we help create a virtuous circle where kids are empowered via education to be agents of change in their community, the friends and family of those kids join volunteer operations, and other kids hoping to earn scholarships join volunteer efforts. In addition, scholarship systems have built-in oversight: the institutions supporting the volunteer work, the kids and their families, and the educational institutions where the scholarships are being paid all provide oversight to make sure funds are being properly used. Finally, adding kids who are earning scholarships allows BeachCorps to support nonprofit work that helps the poorest of the poor who may be unable to “give back” in that moment, but we are still promoting local empowerment by giving kids an education and getting them involved in solving the problems of their own community. Win-win!
#VolunteerVacation #Sustainability #SustainableTourism #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic #Nonprofit #Education #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #Scholarships
1. Be a Hands On Part of a Company that Will Change the World.
Can a great vacation support a great cause? YES! Until now, no one has ever attempted to use volunteers taking traditional fun vacations to support worthy nonprofit causes. BeachCorps is changing that. We are proving that the best and perhaps ONLY way that unskilled, short-term volunteers can make a real, positive difference is with their time for people-to-people engagement, their funding, and their 500 Facebook friends to testify in favor for a great cause. Once we prove that this model succeeds in the Dominican Republic, we will take the model around the world. Join us and change the world “A Little Grain of Sand” at a time!
2. BeachCorps has a Plan to Succeed.
BeachCorps has a plan to be the Expedia (TM) of volunteer vacations, allowing you to choose your hotel, your cause, and your activity. BeachCorps partners with great hotels and tourism experts in the Dominican Republic to support established, worthy nonprofit causes while ensuring volunteer activities support sustainable development. BeachCorps is the only volunteer vacation company of its kind in the world, since other volunteer vacations 1) don’t partner with great hotels, 2) don’t work with worthy, established and independent nonprofit causes, and 3) don’t ensure that a broad and flexible variety of rewarding activities are dedicated to the needs of the cause, not volunteers. Working with us will open up a whole new world of combining great vacations and great causes. BeachCorps has been working with great nonprofits for years because it takes time to develop trust and relationships to create projects that work. This is not the kind of business that potential competitors can duplicate overnight.
3. The Dominican Republic ROCKS!
If you work for BeachCorps, eventually you will get to travel and work in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is perfect for developing this new kind of tourism, with it beautiful beaches and hotels, proximity to the USA, abundant quality volunteer opportunities, and vibrant culture that welcomes tourists. BeachCorps will develop impact travel (sometimes called “voluntourism”) in the Dominican Republic the way ecotourism began in Costa Rica, creating a new tool for helping people everywhere. Business Insider ranked the Dominican Republic as the second best island in the Caribbean. It has both the BEST all-inclusive hotels and wonderful boutique and ecotourism destinations, plus some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet.
4. BeachCorps Empowers People and Fights a Culture of Dependency.
BeachCorps believes in the principles espoused by Robert Lupton in “Toxic Charity”: “Never do for the poor what they can do for themselves” and #2 “Limit one-way giving to emergencies” follow the same logic of local empowerment. The BeachCorps model focuses on empowerment and engagement and avoids activities that create a culture of dependency that is all too common in “voluntourism.” This culture of dependency is perpetuated whenever voluntourism perpetuates what is often referred to as "The White Savior Mentality." Two-way engagement, where locals learn about volunteers and vice-versa, reinforces empowerment by creating relationships of equals. In addition, BeachCorps will only work with worthy causes backed by sustainable, officially recognized 501c3 US charities that build upon local efforts, including the work of the poor. BeachCorps programs will work on creating local leaders who are the true “local heroes” of BeachCorps, along with the hero beneficiaries of these worthy causes.
5. BeachCorps Supports Cross-Sectoral Partnerships to Achieve More.
By working with BeachCorps, you will be part of a model that brings together multiple partners from the private sector, nonprofits, and even the government. Such multi-sectoral partnerships accomplish more because they are able to address sustainable development with a holistic approach. Our model ensures everyone does what they do best: the nonprofit(s) designs a safe and fun project and activities to empower their cause(s); the excursion provider ensures smooth and safe transportation and other support; the hotel supports the project and provides a great hotel experience--and BeachCorps advises and pulls the whole team together.
6. BeachCorps is a Thought Leader in Sustainability.
As the first ever volunteer vacation based on real, independent causes, BeachCorps is charting unknown waters. As such, if you work for BeachCorps you will be making discoveries and adding to the knowledge of BeachCorps and proving that yes, indeed, a great vacation can support a great cause. Come help us explore!
7. Get Your Creative Fireworks Going with BeachCorps
BeachCorps is redefining what it means to volunteer for a worthy cause. It’s not just painting a wall at a nonprofit for the 10th time. We are creating all kinds of innovative programs to allow people to connect as human beings and share cultural insights. If you work for BeachCorps, you will have a change to create and implement exciting new programs in sustainable tourism such as our "Recycling for Education" program that will provide school supplies to kids who promote recycling and trash pick up. IT'S MAGIC!
Want to work for BeachCorps? Find Out About Our Positions as Social Media Intern and Sustainable Tourism Digital Media Manager.
#HelpWanted #Sustainability #SustainableTourism #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic #Nonprofit #Education #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment
Is it possible to simultaneously support recycling and education while combatting a culture of littering and dependency with a little "magic"? Yes!
Recently BeachCorps was approached by some small, informal community organizations asking for us to help pay for their school supplies. We would love to help turn these organizations into formal nonprofits capable of empowering their communities. We love school and we love education but we also don't like encouraging a culture of dependency via "Toxic Charity" where you ask for something without giving something in return.
So we decided to offer to pay for school supplies in exchange for communities collecting some plastic bottles and other material like cardboard and Tetra Pak for recycling. They loved the idea. We are now partnering with the premiere recycling and sustainability firm in the Eastern Dominican Republic, Ecoservices Dominicana, to create over the next year a program to help increase the amount of school supplies destined for giving underserved communities in exchange for kids and communities helping out by turning in some plastic bottles, cardboard, and Tetra pak for recycling. Tetra Pak is already a partner of Ecoservices and we hope they will be excited about this project too. We will be looking for other partners in the private sector (particularly the producers of the plastic bottles), nonprofits, and the government to support us. We will look for a local supplier of school supplies to help us get more bang for our back and increase the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of the donation process.
Here's a lovely Youtube video that shows the enthusiasm of our communities for this project. The first organization showed is the Fundación Caña, Melao y Azucar (the Cane, Molasses and Sugar Foundation) and is centered in the town of San Pedro de Macoris, the capital city of Dominican baseball. Their school supplies project also provided much needed haircuts to make kids neater and lice-free for school. The Fundación Caña, Melao y Azucar is on the verge of obtaining official Dominican nonprofit status and we look forward to working with them. The second organization is even more informal and is centered on the community of Monte Verde (Green Mountain), a community that also has the nickname of Mata Mosquitos (Mosquito Killer). The local community leader Cristobal wants to take a small local trash dump in the middle of the neighborhood and turn it into a childcare center for the hundreds of people who leave the community to work every day and have no other real choice but to let their little kids run the streets. We want to help. BeachCorps asked for one huge bag of bottles and we got a LOT more than we bargained for! At first the big bag didn't fit into the back of the BeachMobile! The kids had to push HARD! And there were many more bags collected that had to be sent for recycling later.
By the summer of 2018, we hope to have full-fledged BeachCorps volunteer vacation programs ready where volunteers can come to local communities and celebrate the donation of more and better school supplies in exchange for recycling and creating cleaner communities. These events will make clear that the real heroes are not the tourists or BeachCorps, but the local community leaders who have developed this program and the kids who have helped make it a reality. This can be a big, yearly event that will constantly help communities and local governments stay on top of the problems of littering and the absence of a strong recycling culture.
Our program will tackle four different issues at once:
1. Promoting recycling: we will educate kids about the importance of recycling and particularly the harm plastic trash in particular does to the environment and even to storm and flood water drainage.
2. Combatting the "Trash Culture": we will help the kids understand why they must be the generation that starts to change the culture of just tossing trash on the ground. This is not as hopeless as it sounds and gives kids the feeling that they are rebels fighting for a wonderful cause, that they "get it" while their parents don't. In America, we had a culture of tossing trash on the ground until we saw the light (who remembers the famous "Crying Indian" video?).
3. Supporting Education: We want to make sure that this program increases the amount and quality of school supplies for kids that need them. Too often there is a push only at the beginning of the year, and the school supplies have run out long before the end of the year. Our program will increase the payment for recycled bottles well beyond the market price, creating a powerful tool for buying school supplies.
4. Supporting Empowerment and Combatting the Dependency Culture: by giving kids the opportunity to pay for a greater number of school supplies, we will show them the value of working towards their own education and give them the pride of earning their school supplies as opposed to getting it for free. Imagine the pride of a kid who comes each year carrying his or her little bag of bottles and other recycling as payment for their school supplies.
Moreover, a program providing school supplies can be the entry point for working with a community to create other, more ambitious projects, such as creating the day care center or even English classes over the summer, the latter a major focus for BeachCorps for the summer of 2018.
We finally did get the back into the back of the BeachMobile. The most important lesson is that working together we can do magic if everyone does a little and does what they do best. We are grateful to Ecoservices Dominicana for all their support! We hope to find other private sector partners, nonprofits, and even government partners with the same vision and dedication for sustainability that Ecoservices has.
It's just a start of course. But do you like this idea? Then follow us on social media and share this blog story! That's leaving your "Little Grain of Sand!"
#Recycling #AntiLittering #Sustainability #SustainableTourism #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic #Nonprofit #Education #ToxicCharity #SustainableDevelopment #SchoolSupplies #TetraPak
SAIH is an organization of students and academics in Norway. SAIH focuses on education in development cooperation and created a wonderful if over-simplified parody of the "White Savior Mentality" that permeates so much voluntourism: "Who Wants to Be a Volunteer?"
So much voluntourism today does focus on glorifying the volunteer and making the beneficiaries seem helpless. But BeachCorps is trying to change that. BeachCorps is a model 9 years in the making that focuses on great causes, not the egos of volunteers. After years of developing our model, we were delighted to learn of the seminal work "Toxic Charity" that talks about the dangers of good intentions doing harm through volunteer work. As we read the book, every single danger was one we had already thought of--we just hadn't expressed it so well. And we were glad to see our model avoids those mistakes. We talk a lot about Toxic Charity on our website. https://www.beachcorps.com/avoiding-toxic-charity.html
So ultimately while we believe a lot of voluntourism is bad, not all of it is. We subscribe to the #MendNotEnd philosophy that says you can indeed do good on short term trips if the focus is the cause, not the ego of the volunteer. Our marketing focus is on the great non-profit and for-profit partners that are working to empower local communities. The folks who are fighting to empower local communities to promote education, community development, protecting the environment/animals are the heroes, not BeachCorps, not our volunteers. Our volunteers are but a "Little Grain of Sand" in our view. A little sand in the wrong place can do harm. Only a lot of sand accumulating and supporting the right causes can help. We are starting in the Dominican Republic this year but hope to expand.
We hope that folks will see if we are keeping our promises!
#Voluntourism #SustainableDevelopment #SustainableTourism #SustainableTravel #DominicanRepublic #VolunteerVacation
BeachCorps is a non-denominational company focused on effective volunteer vacations. We welcome people and causes of all faiths, or even no faith. However, we believe that Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) can be particularly effective partners, especially in a country like the Dominican Republic with such a large number of different and thriving faith traditions.
Let's look at the Pro's and Cons in general of FBOs. First the Pro's. Supporters of FBOs believe that they can amass resources unavailable to groups not based on faith. First, they are capable of drawing upon large groups of volunteers with similar beliefs and values who can be easier to direct and lead as a group. Historically, FBOs show less variation in donation levels and are comparatively resistant to large decreases in funds during economic downturns. Consistency is key in planning long-term development, as local communities lose faith in organizations that come and go based on fluctuating economies and donor whims.
But probably the biggest advantage that FBOs have is in connecting with local communities through faith. People who share similar faiths are better able to engage and trust each other. Such trust allows foreign development groups to more quickly devolve responsibility and decision-making to locals, a key plus in any sustainable development plan. FBOs are often thus better placed to develop grass-roots initiatives that truly reflect local communities and not the implanted views of foreign aid givers.
Now the Cons. The most obvious criticism of FBOs is that they sometimes mix proselytizing with their development work. This can be a problem, but BeachCorps will work to ensure this isn't a problem for any partners because BeachCorps will not partner with organizations who openly proselytize to our volunteers as opposed to just showing volunteers "the fruits of faith." Our partners will also be open in sharing their faith but only as part of the overall "Zen" of organizations. Another criticism is that FBOs can sometimes pursue ineffective policies based on faith. BeachCorps will work to ensure these aren't problems because our programs will be targeting a broad array of religious and nonreligious travelers and because we will not be entering into controversial areas like family planning.
Finally, a more serious problem is the "halo effect" where FBOs are just assumed to be doing God's work when in fact there may be serious problems. This can be a serious problem. However, the BeachCorps model will help reduce this potential error by stressing measuring success with independent, verified data. As BeachCorps programs expand, BeachCorps will ensure that partners will give us the data showing their success, and verify that data with independent analysis, as a condition of continuing to work together.
In many cases, BeachCorps will target assistance into easily verifiable areas like scholarships for underserved youth, which creates an easy and publicly viewable monitoring system because universities and schools receive the scholarship funding linked to specific students. Other costs will support projects that ensure that beneficiaries of BeachCorps donations also "pay it forward" by doing their own community development work. Like all nonprofit organizations, FBOs must avoid the "white savior" mentality program and programs that reinforce a culture of dependency and "Toxic Charity." In short, BeachCorps funds will go into projects that are more easily verifiable and which volunteers can rest assured wouldn't occur without their support, their little grain of sand.
So while BeachCorps will continue to work with FBOs and organizations not based on faith, we recognize that in general an organization that can draw on faith is likely to be stronger as a result. The Dominican Republic is a country where faith runs strong, so FBOs can connect effectively in a wide variety of ways. We hope one day to work with many different groups of different faiths, including the historic Jewish presence in the North Coast of the country.
Say a prayer for our Faith Based and Non-Faith Based work! --BBB
#faithbased #SpringBreak #AlternativeSpringBreak #SustainableDevelopment #VolunteerVacation #Voluntourism #AllInclusive #Excursion #SustainableTourism #TravelForGood #ToxicCharity
The BeachCorps Beach Bum!
The BeachCorps Beach Bum loves great vacations and great volunteer work!