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VT Cast #24: Traveler's Philanthropy & VolunTourism


What is Traveler's Philanthropy? What are some of the similarities and differences between Traveler's Philanthropy and VolunTourism? Are there possible synergies between Traveler's Philanthropy and VolunTourism? These questions and more will be addressed during this episode of The VolunTourist.

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Past Webcast - February 12, 2008

Research Forum

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Duncan Beardsley, Founder, Generosity In Action [Bio]; Dominique Callimanopulos, M Ed., Founder, Elevate Destinations [Bio].


[What is Traveler's Philanthropy? And how did Generosity In Action get started?]

"Traveler's Philanthropy is a very, very broad cover of anything where the traveler has a desire, a willingness, a feeling to give back. Tour operators have discovered that travelers will actually pay a premium to be with an organization that has in their structure a willingness to give back. What that often means is that while on the trip there is something going on with the village people are visiting where the travelers have an opportunity to give back. And, it may be what you are doing, David, which is emphasizing work people can do in the area that give back; what I have found with a number of travelers is an interest in giving back financially. But it always is something where the traveler has that opportunity to do something to help the area that they're visiting in.

Generosity In Action was started as a result of a group of travelers sitting around a campfire saying something that they had seen in a village that day that they wanted to support and how could they help. And it ended up being that they raised the money and the local tour operator helped get the project finished - the project happened to be digging a well in a village in Burma. So my orientation has been the generosity of travelers to want to give back, and how to handle it financially, Generosity In Action is a financial structure that lets them do that.

But giving back is so important today - - whether it be the traveler, or whether it be the tour operator, or whether it be the hotel in which people are staying. You can't just plunk a hotel down in an area and, and dominate the community. You've got to give back to the community, which may be the hotel supporting the schools in the area so that the community are better workers to support the running of the hotel. All of those things are in my definition of traveler's philanthropy. " Duncan Beardsley

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[What are some of the challenges to be conscious of when approaching Traveler's Philanthropy & VolunTourism?]

"Well, I think just another piece of consciousness that's good to get in there is that all resource allocation is political. And so when you are infusing a community or an organization on the ground with additional and new resources that may have an impact in terms rivalry, local rivalry for resources, and that sort of thing - even if it looks like you are giving in the most benign way possible. I'll give you just a for instance:

We made a sizable donation to the Gallmann Africa Foundation this year, founded by Kuki Gallmann, who has a 100,000-acre conservancy in Northern Kenya. She wrote the book, I Dreamed of Africa; it became a best-seller; they made a movie with Kim Basinger about it. But it's a really, it's a wonderful private reserve. It has won many awards for bringing back certain species and so I was very happy to make that donation. But, for others looking at it they might say, "Well, you know you're donating just to a wildlife organization which is in competition with local communities for resources and for land." And then you add the sort of some of the tribal rivalry that is going on in Kenya at the moment - the whole thing gets inflated politically very quickly. So that's just a dimension I wanted to mention because we haven't talked about it. But resources, and bringing new resources, there is a political dimension that needs to be looked at carefully, as well." Dominique Callimanopulos

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Guest Bios

Duncan Beardsley, Founder, Generosity In Action


Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT

Duncan has forty years of experience in the Travel industry. He started his career with Young & Rubicam servicing travel clients followed by Senior marketing positions with P&O Lines, Princess Cruises, Royal Cruise Line and Seabourn. For ten years he was the Director of the Alumni Travel/Study Program at Stanford University prior to his retiring in 2004. Generosity in Action was created to respond to the generosity of many travelers he traveled with while managing tours in third world countries.

Generosity in Action provides a structure for travelers to support local villages and people and be able to enjoy a tax deduction in the US. Generosity in Action coordinates with local tour operators and tour leaders to insure that donations are properly applied to the projects intended. Projects range from providing text-books to schools in Peru to digging wells and building schools in Burma to co-ordinating donations for many projects in southern Africa and most recently Bhutan.

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Dominique Callimanopulos, Founder, Elevate Destinations

Dominique Callimanopulos is the Founder of Elevate Destinations, a travel philanthropy company that donates a percentage of its trips to non-profits working in environmental preservation and community development overseas. Elevate Destinations also organizes donor travel for leading international non-profits and private companies.

Dominique has worked extensively in the non-profit sector, in the areas of human rights, social psychology and organizational development. She holds academic degrees in Cultural Anthropology (BA) and Counseling Psychology (M.Ed).

Of Greek and British descent, Dominique grew up in New York and Paris, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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