Voluntourism, telling a complete story, voter attitudes and youth power.

Posted on 28 August 2018

+ How much do our members love us? 
+ Volunteer tourism - Where it can go wrong and what works?

Combining tourism and volunteering can be a wonderful thing to do and its on the increase, so what are the pitfalls and how do you get it right?

There can be unintended consequences that make life worse for local people.  In some cases, well-intentioned volunteers are fuelling the demand for orphans for example. In Cambodia, 74% of children in orphanages are not orphans.

And beware the expensive schemes: "It’s been shown over and over again that the more expensive a 
voluntouring stint is, the less responsible and sustainable it is," writes Internationalle Global Perspectives.

Dr Xavier Font, of Leeds Metropolitan University, conducted research on this very topic. “It’s not entirely unsurprising that the most responsible organisations price responsibly, as they are transparent about their cost structure and income. The less responsible organisations tend to hide the origin of their costs, which can also hide excessive profit margins”.

In New Zealand, one of our most exciting new social enterprises (and soon to become a CID member) is
GOOD Travel. They have a great definition:

"Voluntourists are travellers who combine tourism with voluntary work. Typically, they sign up with an international volunteer organisation and pay to take part in a short-term volunteer programme, which could involve anything from environmental conservation in South Africa through to childcare in Peru."

But as 
GOOD Travel points out, there are problems if you don’t get it right.  "Critics argue that voluntourists are often unqualified and inexperienced, and subsequently can cause more harm than good. There have also been significant concerns around the lack of transparency with what happens to the (often hefty) fees paid by volunteers". 

According to 
GOOD Travel’s Adviser, Dr Nancy McGehee of Virginia Tech, USA, as many as 10 million volunteers a year are spending up to $2 billion on the opportunity to volunteer overseas.

GOOD Travel has set out to avoid the risks and make sure the benefits are reciprocal and transparent. It's about providing "an alternative to voluntourism where travellers can give back to the places they visit but in a way that empowers local communities and creates genuine connections and shares learning between hosts and visitors"

They’ve come up with five questions you should ask yourself if you think you want to volunteer:

Why do you want to volunteer?
This is possibly the most important question so take some time to really think about it and reflect on whether voluntourism is the best way to achieve your goals.

Do you have the necessary language skills and cultural experience?
If not, are you willing to commit the time before you go to do your research?

Do you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the job?
Would you be allowed to volunteer in this field in your home country?

Who does the job you wish to volunteer for at the moment?
Will you be taking a local person’s job or diminishing their value by doing it for free? And what will happen when you leave?

Is this money well spent?

The majority of voluntourism trips involve paying a significant fee. Have you been provided with a breakdown of what your volunteer fee will be used for? Do you know how much of your fee will reach the country where you plan to volunteer? If your primary goal is to help a local project, would they benefit more from your time or from a donation?
Telling complete stories through images

"NGOs are now one of the main sources of imagery from the developing world, and many of these images have become so similar that inadvertently we have presented a homogenised view to the public we so keenly want to engage and inspire,” BOND director, Tasmin Maunder writes recently.

In New Zealand, we know that whichever agency is first to get on the news after a disaster will get the bulk of the public’s generosity. We all want to tell our story through images. And often these images tell a devastating story. 

The CID Code has guidelines on what not to do when taking photos on the job, with the aim to maintain a dignified and respectful portrayal of local capacity. In an effort to stop telling negative and dehumanising stories of ‘victims’ dependent on our ‘welfare’ handouts, a new stereotype has emerged - "the smiling recipient of aid.”

In Bond’s view, the answer is "tell the complete story”, and they have five recommendations:
  • Invest in collaborative and creative approaches to image making.
  • Uphold contributors’ rights and fulfil the duty of care.
  • Informed consent to be understood as an essential, multi-stage, process.
  • Commit to sensitive and effective communication with contributors before, during and after image gathering.
  • Ensure that human dignity is upheld in the image-making process, not just in the image itself.

Devex spoke to humanitarian communicators to learn about challenges for communicators in the humanitarian space, with these recommendations:

  • Return to the basics: “There’s a sense that people are becoming cynical to highly polished and produced pieces of content,” he said. “There’s a real interest in authentic, ‘rougher’ content [of] what’s actually happening on the background.”
  • Acknowledge the frustrations of your audience: We have to be more deliberate about knowing who we’re talking to and how we’re talking to them.
  • Lean into the complexity of — and hope behind — humanitarian issues: “We can’t be relentless with the misery,” says Money. “[Storytelling] has to be coupled with the action that can be taken, efforts to drive forces forward, [and] examples of where things have improved.”
  • Keep human dignity at the core — and give those affected by crises the microphone:  Nothing is more powerful or authentic than the story of a child told in their own words or through their own eyes.
  • Protect your teams: Humanitarian communicators have to resist the urge to be everything and say everything to everyone; instead, they should rationalize where to put their weight and bear influence.
+  How has DFAT's private sector partnership gone?

The nature of private-sector aid partnerships has continued to evolve: recently there has been increasing interest in impact investment in the not-for-profit sector.

Organisations such as the UN Global Compact have encouraged private-sector organisations to institutionalise the SDGs in their internal frameworks and to explore ways to achieve the goals, including through partnerships with not-for-profit organisations.

It is critical that positive effects at the community level remain at the forefront of all impact investment. In some instances, transitioning to impact investment from other forms of funding can result in a switch from grants to loans, among other variables. It is vital that communities remain involved in all stages of negotiation on impact investment – after all, impact investment is about creating greater opportunities for people.

Lowy Institute’s Jonathan Pryke has made a submission to the Australian Parliament’s inquiry on the private sector’s role in aid. Given the increase of the corporate sector’s work with CID members, and their determination to be more active partners in development, not just ‘sponsors’, some of these recommendations, summarised here are worth us noting:
  1. If the purpose of aid is to be reassessed, the national interest should be recognised as a driver, not just an outcome, of aid expenditure.
  2. An ‘Associate Secretary for Development’ should be created to sit between the Secretary and Deputy Secretary level and assume complete responsibility for development policy and aid management.
  3. A development stream within the department should be created, starting from the graduate level, to professionalise development within the Department.
  4. The Office of Development Effectiveness should have its mandate and resourcing expanded to include independent oversight of project design and implementation, as well as project evaluation.
  5. The Office of Development Effectiveness should be tasked with carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the facilities model.
  6. A specialised agency should be established to manage Australian concessional financing that is adequately staffed and resourced to identify a pipeline of bankable projects and leverage Australian private sector financing.
  7. Transparency of Australian aid must be improved. Every aid project over $1,000,000 should have (through AidWorks) an automatically generated, publicly accessible, website. 
CID’s main takeout from these recommendations? Can we please have an Office of Development Effectiveness!
How to get voters on side with immigration

The Economist this week (paywall) grapples with the difficult question of voters attitudes to immigration and refugees because "fear of immigration is poisoning Western politics", they argue.

"Societies that close their doors to migrants will be poorer and less tolerant. Meanwhile, those to whom the doors are closed will see increased suffering, unable to escape the poverty, climate change or violence that prompts them to move.”

One of the problems is that the definition of a migrant and a refugee are blurring, particularly in Europe.  “...since rich countries admit virtually no economic migrants from poor countries unless they have exceptional skills or family ties, many of them try their luck by posing as refugees. It does not help that states have different rules on who is a refugee. Or that they struggle to send home those who are denied asylum, not least because many of their countries refuse to take them back.”

And while the benefits of migration rest primarily with the migrant (if you are from Chad your income can increase by over 100%), the public is unaware of the benefits to the ‘rich’ countries. Our ageing populations and shrinking workforces mean we need more young migrants. 

We can’t ignore voter backlash if we want to win the case for an increase in refugees (let alone migrants from poor countries). One of the best ways to countering the negative attitudes, the Economist argues, is to let refugees and migrants work and get an education as soon as possible, and to support them to learn the language straight away.

"Done properly, migration brings economic dynamism. But the shortcomings of today’s policies mean that most Western countries are far more closed than they should be, and they feed the rise of populism. That is both a colossal wasted opportunity and an unnecessary danger."
+ "If grown-ups don’t give a shit about her future, why should she?"

Greta Thunberg was supposed to start school again last week but instead, she seated herself against the stone facade of the Swedish Parliament’s main building in central Stockholm.

The spot is well chosen, as many politicians, professionals and ordinary people pass by daily.  Next to her, she has placed a sign that reads “School Strike for the Climate”. In front of her is a pile of leaflets on which her intentions have been clearly pinned down:

We kids most often don’t do what you tell us to do. We do as you do. And since you grown-ups don’t give a shit about my future, I won’t either. My name is Greta and I’m in ninth grade. And I refuse school for the climate until the Swedish general election.

This once again shows us how important youth engagement can be.  The climate crisis is an existential threat that must be forcefully dealt with NOW. We don’t have time to wait any longer. In these dangerous times, the young generation inspires hope. And as Greta shows, they can also have a major impact.

+ "Bring the kids on Nauru here"

Don't forget to tell our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern on Facebook Messenger that you want to see the children on Nauru, and their families brought safely to New Zealand.

Join the call!
It’s World Water week in Stockholm - FYI

World Water Week in Stockholm is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today. 
Optimizing your self-care based on your coping style

Humanitarians are prone to burnout, often neglecting their own basic self-care needs because they are focused on providing service and aid to others. Sign up and watch this video from a psychologist at the Headington Institute, you will learn three coping styles and self-care tips to help you avoid exhaustion and prevent burnout.
+ The secret metric killing Nonprofit fundraising

In 2017, the average spam rate for nonprofit fundraising emails was 24.16%, meaning that only three-quarters of sent emails even reached supporters' inboxes.  The average nonprofit meeting this criteria lost $29,613.59 in 2017, simply because spam prevented their supporters from receiving their messages. 

There are several steps that nonprofits can take to improve their email deliverability rate, including instituting an email opt-in process, using a welcome series to integrate new subscribers, and regularly testing messaging to optimize engagement.

For more download the full report by EveryAction here.
+ CID's growing

CID welcomes a new Associate member to our whānau:

Pacific Media Network

With a vision of "Celebrating the Pacific Spirit”, the Pacific Media Network is a Public Interest Broadcaster targeting Pacific peoples to empower, encourage and nurture Pacific cultural identity and economic prosperity in Aotearoa”. 

Their aims are Pacific people contributing to New Zealand society in a positive way, Pacific peoples achieving their full potential and the preservation of Pacific Island culture and language.