The Beginning Of A Vision
In 2002, Los Niños, Inc. (now Via International) entered the inaugural Yale University School of Management - Goldman Sachs Foundation Nonprofit Social Venture Business Plan Competition. Out of an initial 655 entrants, Los Niños, Inc. (now Via International) was selected as one of 20 finalists for its VolunTours™ initiative. Although a financial award was not given to the organization in May 2003 in New York City, this significant level of national & international recognition spawned interest to pursue the business model. (To see the results of the competition click here.)
Los Niños, Inc. (now Via International) realized that the only way to really grow the VolunTours™ business, if it had to be done organically, was to do three things:
- Build-out its own product offerings for the business & leisure travel markets,
- Develop partnerships and networking with stakeholders to increase the supply-side of the market, and
- Educate all stakeholders - the tourism industry, the nonprofit industry, and consumers - on the value of this type of travel
|David Clemmons, Founder of VolunTourism.org
In 2003, the first concept paper on VolunTourism was written by David Clemmons and presented to The George Washington University. This, in turn, resulted in the development of the 2004 VolunTourism Think Tank, a collaborative effort of The George Washington University's International Institute of Tourism Studies, the Educational Travel Conference, and, of course, Los Niños, Inc.
VolunTourism.org was initially formed to serve those who would be attending this gathering. Subsequently, it was altered in response to requests from participants of the 2004 VolunTourism Think Tank.
Our most important function, as you know, is the education of Travelers. The more informed travelers are, the better their decision-making. They will enter experiences consciously and will be more prepared to meet the challenges involved in becoming the best VolunTourists they can possibly be.
Concurrently, VolunTourism.org facilitates the unification and alignment between the world's two largest economic and social engines - respectively, the tourism industry (Destinations & Operators) and the Nonprofit sector.
By fostering this collaboration, we are supporting the tourism industry in serving client (VolunTourists') requests and achieving its corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals & objectives. In similar fashion, we support the nonprofit sector in achieving organizational self-reliance via revenue-generating social ventures and continuing to support its social missions and global causes.
David Clemmons, Founder of VolunTourism.org, is currently in Amman, Jordan, working with the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA.org) to develop VolunTourism Jordan.
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