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How to Take a Volunteer Vacation

Guy Billout

Photo: Guy Billout

Reputable Charities

After returning from a vacation, you may be moved to continue to help fund a project in the destination you’ve visited. If you’re not careful, however, your money may not end up in the right place. Vet the charity through watchdog groups such as charitynavigator.org, BBB Wise Giving Alliance (give.org), and the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org). These organizations rate nonprofits based on such factors as availability of financial and operational information to the public, efficiency of fund-raising activities, and how donations are spent. Many international aid organizations have regional or national partners that can use your support—UNICEF, for example, allies itself with a number of local NGO’s in destinations in the Pacific Islands, Africa, and South America. Also, consider charities that will allow you to make targeted donations. At globalgiving.org, travelers can search for projects by area, while kiva.org enables individuals to make microfinance loans in communities around the world.

Targeting your Donation

  • Rather than giving a small amount to each of several charities, donate to one or two organizations to ensure the highest impact.
  • Ask whether your tour company or hotel has a practice of contributing to local causes. Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.com), Six Senses (sixsenses.com), CC Africa (ccafrica.com), Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com), and Lindblad Expeditions (expeditions.com) all sponsor nonprofits that work in destinations abroad.
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