Adventure philanthropy is all about combining your passion with a purpose. My passion happens to be travel, so with each trip I try and incorporate a philanthropic activity—volunteering with a local charitable organization, making a donation, or just becoming more knowledgeable and engaged in a social issue that is affecting the community I’m visiting.
I became an adventure philanthropist several years ago, while visiting a school in Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains. This one day field trip turned out to be the highlight of my entire two months in Africa – eclipsing climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, learning to scuba dive in Zanzibar, and a mountain biking safari.
The school trip made such an impression because it gave my fellow travelers and me an opportunity to learn first-hand how much we take for granted in more economically advanced countries. Meeting the school children and seeing their joy of learning despite the difficult educational environment was life changing.
My fellow trekkers and I thought about these Tanzanian students so often that we found a way to continue to support the school with much needed resources even after returning home. For each of us, our world had expanded and now I always seek out opportunities to give back during my travels both at home and abroad.
What’s so fantastic, is that I’m not the only one hooked. Throughout my traipsing to nearly 100 countries, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting lots of adventure philanthropists who are sharing their knowledge, resources, and time in exchange for a more authentic travel experience.
Volunteering provides an opportunity for us travelers to get to know local people, new communities, and far-flung locations. It gives us a chance to better understand new cultures and learn about the distinguishing beauty of the wider world around us. These local giving experiences offer a rich collection of memories and new-found cultural intelligence that is so much better—more empowering, more enlightening—than any photo or souvenir.
Volunteering and social engagement while abroad is contagious! Here’s just a few of my friends and fellow travelers—each an Adventure Philanthropist—that have found rewarding experiences that combine their passion + purpose in all corners of the world:
• Galapagos Islands – Julia, an environmental scientist, builds her professional resume by helping conduct research on island marine life.
• Bhutan – Pirjo, a physical therapist from Finland, takes several months off every other year to teach medical skills to hospital staff in South Asia.
• Peru – Antoinette, a surgical nurse, donates several weeks a year to help perform heart surgeries for children in Latin America.
• Tanzania – The Whitaker family from Seattle traveling with Wildland Adventures raised funds from friends before their African safari to give back to a local orphanage during their summer holiday. read more...
• Indonesia – Peter & Helen, a retired advertising executive & celebrity stylist, built their dream life after starting a manta ray research center in Bali.
• Malawi – Jo, an HR executive from London, spent weeks riding in a mobile library and reading to children throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Sound exciting? It is! And easy to do. Just set aside a day or two on your next holiday to join a local volunteer effort. It will provide you with a travel perspective that you’ll forever cherish. And before you know it, you’ll be an Adventure Philanthropist too!
Wildland Adventures is giving away 3 copies of my book Adventure Philanthropist: Great Adventures Volunteering Abroad, all you need to do is sign up for their newsletter and you'll be entered to win. Enter to win
3 chances to win: They will pick one person who enters from this page, another person from their newsletter list and one person who shares their post about this blog on the Wildland Facebook page. The winners will be announced in their newsletter.
Erin Michelson is a social entrepreneur and the author of Adventure Philanthropist: Great Adventures Volunteering Abroad. The book chronicles her 2 years traveling to more than 60 countries and all 7 continents volunteering with nonprofit organizations along the way. Leaving the world of corporate finance to work in the nonprofit arena, Erin currently runs a consulting firm specializing in growth strategies for nonprofit organizations. Living a nomadic life, Erin continues to consult, write, speak, volunteer, and travel widely. You can follow her living and giving adventures on www.GoErinGo.com