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The sustainability of Nonprofit Organizations and NGOs requires the development & implementation of revenue-generating models. The age of social entrepreneurship in the form of VolunTourism has arrived. Are you ready?

Photo Courtesy Of Cultural Restoration Tourism Project, All Rights Reserved

An Overview

As an executive, board member, or staff person of a nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-governmental organization (NGO), you are well aware of the social challenges that VolunTourism can potentially address. But you are also asking yourself at least two very important questions:

  1. Is such an approach feasible, sustainable, etc.?
  2. Can volunteerism, which is generally not categorized nor planned for as episodic engagement, be converted to do so?

There are several VolunTourism models that are being utilized by Nonprofits & NGOs the world over. These models have been developed primarily from the goals and objectives that each entity has established for itself, while honoring its constituents and stakeholders. Organizations may focus upon any of the following:

  • Long-term sustainability and revenue-generation
  • Risk mitigation & development diversification
  • Donor familiarization & cultivation
  • Collaboration & partnership
  • General education & awareness
  • "Voluntourist" recruitment & placement for episodic engagement

When the primary purpose of your VolunTourism initiative is established, then you can determine what audience you wish to target with your promotional efforts. Obviously, there are those organizations that decide to target a certain age group or financial demographic. Others direct their efforts toward a particular type of travel - cycling, for example - as a draw for a specific clientele. Two such nonprofits that target this contingency are the PepyRide and Bike & Build. With some, like Globe Aware and Los Niños, the idea is to create a balance of voluntary service and travel within each itinerary.

Once you have selected a VolunTourism model that supports your goals and objectives, you are ready to begin a cycle of your own - the perpetual cycle of implementation, evaluation and modification. Improvement will derive from the sincerity of your efforts to follow a steady diet of these three elements and to receive and make use of input from all stakeholders as they respond to each facet of your VolunTourism program.

For additional resources, look to archives of The VolunTourist Newsletter, the VolunTourism.org Blog, the Research Forum hosted by Dr. Nancy McGehee of Virginia Tech University, and other sections of this website. Should you have in-depth questions about how to approach VolunTourism as a Nonprofit or NGO, feel free to contact us.

THE VOLUNTOURIST - Past Webcasts for Nonprofits & NGOs

Volunteer Coordinators & VolunTourism - 3 February 2009


My guests, joined me to address the following:

(1) What is the current role of volunteer coordinators and what duties are entailed?

(2) What are potential benefits and challenges of incorporating VolunTourism into their roles?

(3) What educational approach(es) would best support volunteer coordinators in learning more about VolunTourism?

Guests addressed these topics and discussed others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Mary Lynn Perry, Volunteer Coordinator, City of Sacramento; Christine Wallace, Community Resource Coordinator, Volunteer Center of Sacramento.

"Volunteer Management" & VolunTourism - 6 May 2008


(1) What is "volunteer management"?

(2) For the purposes of "volunteer management," what are the basic categories into which VolunTourists ("volunteer" tourists) can be classified?

(3) What are some of the key "volunteer management" strategies that can be utilized in managing these three groups?

Guests address these topics and discuss others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Susan Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

Volunteer Vacations & VolunTourism - 1 April 2008


What is a Volunteer Vacation? What are the primary reasons for offering these types of trips? How do Volunteer Vacations and VolunTourism relate to one another? Guests address these topics and discuss others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Theresa Higgs, M.A., Director of International Programs, United Planet; Paul Jones, North American Regional Manager, Global Vision International; Randy Punley, MSW, Director, Corporate & Media Partnerships, United Way of America.

Nonprofits & VolunTourism - 11 December 2007


What are nonprofit organizations doing in order to become more connected to VolunTourism? What collaborations are they forming with tour operators and suppliers? How are they utilizing VolunTourism as a revenue generator? Guests address these topics and discuss others during this episode of The VolunTourist.

[Listen To The Webcast] (Click Here To Download)


Arday Ardayfio, Founder, The Ghana Computer Project at Quantum Connections [Bio]; Kellie Bentz, Executive Director, of Hands On New Orleans [Bio].

Suggested Readings From The VolunTourist Newsletter

"Not-For-Profit-Only" - Scott Laughlin and Chris Coyne are entrepreneurs. They have started numerous companies, helped launched others, guided those trying to fulfill their own entrepreneurial goals, and provided insights into how to bridge profitability and responsibility. As VolunTourists, they are as “serious” about combining their voluntary service with their love for adventure and travel. It is this integrated approach to business and life that has transformed what was once a rapacious capitalistic drive to a mantra that reads: “Not-For-Profit-Only.”

VolunTourism & The Millennium Development Goals - Part I - This article offers suggestions on how VolunTourism may support organizations in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Social Enterprise Model For VolunTourism - If, as a nonprofit, you are trying to determine whether to use VolunTourism as a social enterprise venture, this article will give you some insight as to the pros and cons of this strategy.

The Familiarization VolunTourism Model - In this article on Familiarization Trips, the discussion includes how crafting a VolunTourism experience for donors can be an excellent approach.

Wisdom & Insight - This article features comments from Mary Merrill who takes a look at why nonprofit organizations may be hesitant to address anything that has the word "tourism" associated with it, including VolunTourism.