A few weeks ago, we received an interesting comment on our post “Do Volunteer Vacations Do More Harm Than Good?”
The commenter noted:
“You don’t address the issue of money spent making the trip as opposed to simply donating money to an indigenous charity working directly with the people.”
And it’s a great point. Many of you might wonder: “What’s the point of volunteering abroad? Isn’t it better to just donate money to a local charity?”
First things first: we absolutely encourage people to donate money to local non-profits. This is often one of the quickest and easiest ways to support those in need.
That being said, our volunteer vacations are about so much more than that.
Why Volunteer Vacations Mean More
Our goal isn’t just to accomplish a task — it’s to expose travelers first-hand to the challenges and successes communities experience. It’s to show travelers another way of life, in hopes of opening their minds and hearts. It’s to foster gratitude, compassion, and friends without borders. It’s to teach travelers to appreciate new cultures and attitudes, so they can bring this understanding back to their communities and become ambassadors for a country and cause. It’s to remind them of the importance of giving back.
But besides the direct impact on both the traveler and volunteer project, there are also collateral benefits to the community. By working in partnership with the local people to supply guides, lodging, food, and transportation, volunteer travel programs channel money directly into the community. They also create work, offering people a way to support themselves and their families without relying on hand-outs. As we heard last week from the ladies of the kitchen in the Dominican Republic — without our trips, they wouldn’t have jobs.
If the entire purpose of our trips were to build a school, the commenter is right: it could easily be done without our travelers. But, with our trips, we believe we are creating more than just a physical something. By bringing people together from different cultures to work side-by-side in solidarity, we are building bridges of understanding across borders.
So, what’s the point of volunteering abroad? Well, we think there’s more than one:
The list goes on. People want to travel. More than ever, they are seeking authentic experiences. They are eager to learn about new places and cultures — and not by riding a tour bus, but by interacting with people.
And the best way to do that? Volunteering in a sustainable and meaningful way.
What’s the point of volunteering abroad to YOU?