Thanks to some thoughtful travel initiatives that pair incredible experiences with a platform to positively impact the places you visit (and beyond), it’s surprisingly simple to be a responsible traveler. Read about eight travel-specific charitable funds that help developing or underserved communities, and how you can participate in destination stewardship.
Never have you as a traveler had the level of power to drive transformative change for communities, wildlife and the environment that you do now. As the world begins to move around again, how can we prevent a return to the old ways of taking more than we give? How can we make every trip we take an opportunity to do good in the world. Here are eight foundations doing their bit with the help of travelers.
World Nomads’ Footprints program puts the power in your hands, and it’s as easy as a click to add your contribution toward funding sustainable projects that improve the welfare of communities directly. Simply add a donation to your policy when purchasing travel insurance, and 100% of it goes to the charity of your choosing. Cumulatively, these micro-donations add up to millions of dollars, and to date, more than 253 development ventures have been funded, including cheetah conservation in Botswana, improving food security in Timor-Leste and supporting sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. While you’re on the website, be sure and have a look at the Responsible Travel guide, so you can be a better traveler.
Charitable funds such as the one from APT Travel Group’s One Tomorrow support vital programs including Peace Village International which provides health care to children living in war zones and the Wunan Foundation which supports Aboriginal people by creating opportunities to exit a cycle of disadvantage. The United Nation’s Sustainable Focus Goals drive the selection of projects that are funded – with the emphasis on Good Health and Wellbeing, Quality Education and Life on Land. APT commits a percentage of profits to its charitable arm, fundraises and matches dollar for dollar the donations it receives from its customers.
For almost 30 years, the &Beyond and Africa Foundation have been working together collaboratively to facilitate change WITH the community. Eight active programs support a partnership between local stakeholders to nurture and protect the natural resources while working to champion sustainability, education and conservation. With six lodges spread over 70,560 acres (28,555 hectares) on South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve, this is a social enterprise that also provides job opportunity and stability. Balancing the needs of the community and creating opportunities to thrive in harmony with the wildlife create capacity building goodwill. Anytime you travel with &Beyond, you’re supporting conservation in that community. Simple as that.
Understanding that travel destinations reap economic rewards while also struggling with the ‘invisible burden’ of overtourism, The Travel Foundation works to identify and address a destination’s sustainability risks. These efforts include controlling the invasive lionfish species by putting it on the menu in Saint Lucia’s hotels. This win-win mobilization serves to protect reef wildlife, provide jobs for fishers and feed visitors healthy local fare. In Jamaica, guests are encouraged to explore outside of their resort. The Rastafari Indigenous Village received business advice and assistance from TTF and is now licensed as an official tourist attraction from the Jamaica Tourism Board. Alliances with funding partners such as EasyJet holidays and Be Local provide financial support.
We know that air travel contributes immensely to climate change through emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, but did you know you can offset your contribution? Sustainable Travel International makes it easy to calculate your carbon footprint through their online calculator and compensate by purchasing offset credits. Through these funds, they support projects that benefit communities, ecosystems and clean efficient energy like the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative in Peru and the Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm in Texas.
Confused about where to start and want to be certain your positive impact is reaching its intended recipient? Kind Traveler has done the hard work for you. Through its Give + Get hotel booking platform, when travelers make donations, they unlock special perks and offers. 100% of donations go directly to your choice of over 100 carefully vetted charities such as the Imagine Thailand Foundation, the Soi Dog Foundation Asia and the Manta Trust in the Maldives.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a place while really understanding it and giving back at the same time, Earthwatch, is a great resource. This respected non-profit has more than 50 years of success in connecting inquisitive travelers with scientists worldwide on research expeditions and ecological voluntourism. Fees include accommodations, food and related research costs. In exchange, your day may include census taking pink river dolphins in the Amazon, packing snow samples in the Arctic Circle or helping tag penguins in Patagonia. Their tagline, “Be more than a tourist” says it all. Give back when you travel.
Wondering how to make sense of it all and how these foundations can help? Have a look at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s website. Information is provided to help you travel responsibly and identify sustainable travel companies, accommodations and destinations. If you’re doing it on your own, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
When seeking out an opportunity to donate or support a sustainable travel foundation, consider if the organization is transparent with its business practices. Annual Reports can provide evidence of that. If making a donation on top of your travel costs, is it tax deductible? It should be.
Browse the projects and causes supported by the organization. Is there one that you feel strongly about supporting? Are you able to designate where your donation is used? How are the projects selected by the organization; are the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals used as a guideline as is standard? Have you read the mission statement? Does it resonate with you?
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