Set up by award winning People and Places, its programme director Sallie Grayson says that it was in response to negative publicity volunteering has been getting over recent years: 'The good news is there are many good volunteering organisations out there – the bad news is that they tend not to get exposure and it's difficult for volunteers to differentiate between the good, the bad and the ugly.'
Directory for Ethical and Responsible Volunteering lists organisations that are transparent about the following aspects of their volunteering projects:
- the project must be a legally registered entity in its own country;
- the organisation must be transparent about how the volunteer's money is spent; the project must have the informed consent of local people before volunteers are sent there;
- child protection policies must be in place and enforced; wildlife protection policies must also be in place;
- volunteers are required to sign a code of conduct and, finally, safety must always be a priority – for the local community and for volunteers.
Another invaluable resource is the International Voluntourism Guidelines, produced by the International Ecotourism Society in consultation with an advisory committee of industry leaders. These are aimed at companies which offer ‘voluntourism' programs as part of their tour offering rather than non-profit organisations.
Their main aim is to ensure that projects are sustainable and not just one offs to make tourists feel they have ‘given back'. Because there is no quick fix in volunteering holidays, and both these initiatives support an ethical way forward in this growth area.www.wttc.org/tourismfortomorrow