For each volunteer vacation we need a making a difference section to explain 'how this vacation makes a difference'.
Objectives of making a difference sections
To explain to the traveler in real, tangible
terms how this volunteering project –
- Benefits local people (all product)
- Supports conservation (if relevant)
- Minimises waste, energy use, other environmental impacts (all product)
- Minimises any negative cultural impacts (if relevant)
Tip 1: Avoid generalities, we need to know specifics!
Tip 2: We must feature how we support people AND minimise environmental impacts
Tip 3: Read the making a difference paragraphs on the site for inspiration
It's marketing too!
Write them in such a way that makes the trip appealing! Tell travelers the ‘backstory’ of the volunteer project. Why was the project set up, how did the project develop, why is there a need for this project and how will the project be sustained? Also tell us about previous success stories.
We market more ‘locally distinctive’ and ‘authentic’ vacations. Authentic travel is about –
- Real experiences based around local cultures and lives, not experiences created and packaged up for tourism
- Meaningful connection with local people, traditions, food, culture
- The ability to be part of, and to contribute to a place
- The sense of belonging and of making a difference
Tip 4: Use the MAD section to bring to life the authenticity of the project by making it as personal as possible – e.g. the name of the local co-ordinator, owner of the home stay – unlike mass tourism we aim to re-connect the traveler directly with local people & cultures.
Tip 5: Storytelling is the most powerful form of marketing we have. Tell the story behind the brochure, and of the people involved in this tourism venture. Make it personal.
Getting tourists involved.
Responsible comes from the word to respond. It means to be open to your surroundings, to react to them, and to be part of it in some small way.
Tip 6: Where possible we should encourage members to identify how tourists can participate and be actively involved in making a difference. For example –
- We have joined forces with Kasbah du Toubkal and Room to Read to assist in providing educational books for schools in Morocco. If you would like to offer your support to the project, please bring with you any educational books that will appeal to students from ages 5-18.
- Guests to the house are encouraged to bring unwanted clothing which is welcomed by families especially in the nearby countryside. The practice is socially acceptable because of the important Islamic principle of 'sadaqua', or alms-giving.
Ideally, each making a difference section should be specific to that vacation, with details that reflect the project and destination such as local sites you encourage travelers to visit, local goods and produce used, the locally owned accommodation and activities available in volunteers spare time. Also, making a difference sections should highlight key local issues (such as water use, unemployment or conservation) and should explain how this vacation combats these issues. Don’t be tempted to overstate the benefits of the project (greenwash) as any misrepresentations will be spotted by travelers and reported back to us in the reviews.
These are to help you distinguish yourself, as a responsible volunteer organisation, rather than just another company. It is an opportunity to give specific examples of how your project benefits the local community, environment and the volunteer’s working on it. The information you provide will be your unique selling point and will provide that extra guarantee to a potential customer that they will be booking a truly authentic experience.
Use the following questions as a guide for the kind of information we are looking for in the making a difference sections. Please elaborate and give details.
- How did this project evolve? What preliminary research of the area you have set the project up in?
- What are the longterm goals of the project you are carrying out – what do you hope to achieve?
- If you are collecting data – where will it be used? What do you do with the information?
- How do you ensure that volunteers are welcome in the place that they are visiting?
- Can you demonstrate how the local community benefits from the project?
- How do you educate visiting volunteers about the local community and environment?
- Please talk about the accommodation you provide the volunteers – is it locally owned and environmentally friendly? Do you use local produce and encourage visitors to use local services?
You can find an example of a great volunteering making a difference section here Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique