When most people consider the idea of taking a vacation, a word that comes to mind is relax relaxation. The hyper-bizist lifestyle that exists today makes a holiday a much-needed relief to the everyday festivities of the business world. For many, the purpose of the vacation is simple: to move away from reality as much as possible, to leave behind all the problems and stress related to work, and to enjoy leisure time with family and friends. Although many Americans still prefer the more “traditional themed” type of vacation, a relatively new trend is gaining considerable popularity in the travel industry today: volunteerism.
What is volunteering? As the name implies, volunteers meet with volunteers on holidays and at destinations. Instead of the extravagant beach rides, some Americans are sharing time with the people they need. In fact, according to some recent studies, the number of voluntary leave agencies has doubled in the last few years. One of the great things about volunteering is that people of all ages and walks of life can take part in it and provide something unique for the cause.
For those who are not very interested in traveling abroad or just want to volunteer in the United States for their own reasons, there are many volunteer opportunities in their own backyard and there is a site dedicated to helping Americans connect with the U.S. government’s volunteer opportunities. Websites like these give a starting point for those who are interested in giving their time and effort for reasons like yours.
In this article, we cover a few helpful tips for those interested in starting a volunteer event.
Keep it affordable
Volunteer travel can be more enjoyable if the cost is kept low. Every effort should be made by your volunteers to reduce the cost. Think creatively about ways your organization can partner with other local nonprofits and businesses. For example, contacting local restaurants or churches to see if they are willing to provide low-cost or free meals for volunteers is a great way to reduce costs and make the experience more enjoyable for your participants. Above all, providing a memorable experience will help you build long-lasting relationships with the people involved in your cause – and make them more likely to return in the future.
Research fun things in the area
Your position may have more offers than you think. Don’t avoid your organization as a potential volunteer destination because you believe you live in a boring city. Often people overlook many interesting sites in a region. Do your research. Ask for travel guides for your state, search the internet and even travel a road to find your location with an open mind. Great attractions for remembering amusement parks, memorials, historical sites and even sports events. Remember to look beyond your backyard – you can find something of interest within a few hours of your location.
Develop a strategy for volunteer management
Volunteer vacations are quite different from ordinary volunteer opportunities. The lack of organization on your part due to the volunteers traveling from different states (possibly even countries) and staying together for a few weeks can soon cause a negative experience for the participants. For this reason, it is important to consider how your organization will manage, track, and communicate with volunteers. If your nonprofit still relies entirely on a paper-based event management system, it may be time to consider upgrading to an electronic volunteer management system. An electronic system allows your organization to publish volunteer opportunities online – enabling participants to browse and sign up for their own events. Nonprofits around the world are turning to cloud-based systems to reduce administrative labor and costs, as well as simplify the entire volunteer management process.
Promote your volunteer vacation
The key to building your volunteer vacation is to create an effective marketing plan. How do you spread the word about your event? Marketing comes with creative ways to sell your product or in this case your “vacation” comes to your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of those you are trying to attract. Think about the things you can draw You Opportunity for a volunteer. When designing an online advertising or promotional brochure, be sure to include important information such as: the required skills (if any), the duration of the event, and any additional measures (such as food, accommodation) to reduce your participants’ expenses. Also, include a list of area attractions so volunteers can plan ahead of their free time.
If you take the time to think outside the box, your organization can easily come up with cheap or even free ways to market on volunteer vacation. For example, networking with organizations outside of your area is an effective (and free) way to help attract people from a different geographic area to your event. Also, be sure to promote your opportunity on your own website and explore the possibility of being listed on other volunteer sites. Consider using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get attention.
Start with your volunteer event
When well-organized and strategically planned, volunteer leave benefits everyone involved. Providing a positive and memorable experience can help your organization build lasting relationships with volunteers and get them back in more.