Category Archives: Uncategorized

travel is a human right

globe…Tourism and travel together has proven to be such a resilient industry that nothing is going to stop it. This has become a fact. It may be halted in certain destinations for a short period of time. But if these destinations are well established in the tradition of receiving people and have the right infrastructure and the right expertise then in the immediate and long term it comes back even stronger than it was. This has been our experience in many, many destinations all over the world. There is no stopping to this movement of people. I believe travel has become a human right. People are not going to stop traveling. They may alter their plans, they may postpone them a bit here and there, but the phenomena of traveling at the international level is going to continue to grow… No destination under the sun is immune from being affected or attacked. If not by a man-made terrorist or security related matter, then by a natural disaster. No place in the world is immune from this. I can challenge anybody to name me any place that tells me it’s impossible to have it. No place can claim to be 100% safe and secure. This is a fact. There’s never been anyhow. Does that mean that we stop traveling, we stop living as human beings, stop celebrating beauty of of life and the enjoyment that travel brings and the benefits that travel brings through it? We should never, ever do this…

In a nutshell, I’m not worried about the travel and tourism industry. I’m concerned about the lives of people and security of people, of course. We need to be concerned about security of travel. We have to put it at the heart of our objective. Security doesn’t mean we don’t travel. Do not travel or reduced travel is not an answer, it’s not an option.

— Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization, in an interview with Skift on August 29, 2016

World Tourism Day is September 27 each year, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly, and is meant to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The celebration also seeks to highlight tourism’s potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges society is faced with today. The lead agency for the day is the UN World Tourism Organization.

In case you are wondering why I care so much about this particular day: I’m an avid traveler. I want to use my privilege to see different parts of the world, whether that’s something around the globe from me or in the next county. Travel gives me hope in humanity, because of the incredible kindness I experience. Travel gives me a sense of wonder, because of the incredible natural beauty and human-made marvels I see. Travel gives me a sense of brotherhood with all humans, because of the various representations of history I encounter. I want all people to get to experience this, particularly women. And the economic benefits to local communities regarding tourism are real and something I very much want to support.

Also see adventure tourism as a tool for economic & community development by me! This is a resource for those that like to explore developing countries / low infrastructure environments, as well as offering more about why I make travel a priority in my life.

Dec. 5: International Volunteer Day for Economic & Social Development

December 5 – today – is International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly per its resolution 40/212 in 1985.

This is not a day to honor only international volunteers; the international in the title describes the day, not the volunteer. It’s a day to honor, specifically, those volunteers who contribute to economic and social development. Such volunteers deserve their own day.

I think it’s a shame to try to turn the day into just another day to celebrate any volunteer There are plenty of days and weeks to honor all volunteers and encourage more volunteering (so many that maybe it’s even time for a culling of such).

Why not keep December 5 specifically for volunteers who contribute to economic and social development, per its original intention? Why not give these volunteers their due, as per the original purpose of this day’s designation?

Thank you to the many volunteers who help with the range of economic and social development needs in the world! Today is all about YOU.  

 

Volunteer Engagement the Roller Derby Way

Sunday, I did an intensive, advanced training (as opposed to an introductory/basic training) for representatives from the roller derby leagues in Portland (the Rose City Rollers) and Seattle (Rat City Rollers) regarding volunteer management. These leagues involve several hundred volunteers – and have done so, quite effectively, for a few years now. Volunteers don’t just help at games; women’s roller derby has a particular focus on empowering women and girls, and most meets include fundraising components for a charity, which means volunteers are engaged in a huge range of activities. 

But the rapid growth of these leagues – which shows no signs of abating – means that they don’t always have the procedures and policies in place to handle volunteer management challenges as they arise, or even how to identify issues long before they become bigger problems for the organizations. I hope that my training helped them to be able to access the resources they need to deal with specialized volunteer recruitment, board recruitment, volunteer conflict, keeping volunteers motivated, tracking volunteer information and contributions, and anticipate and address issues regarding volunteer engagement long before such becomes a program killer.  

But with a staff made up of paid employees and volunteers, most of whom have NO training in working with volunteers, these leagues have done a remarkable job of engaging volunteers already.

What are people at these roller derby organizations doing that many traditional organizations that involve volunteers are not?

  • They have organizational-wide commitments to volunteers being satisfied with their experiences. Supporting and honoring volunteers is EVERYONE’S job. It never dawned on them that this should be just one person’s job at an organization, or that an employee could refuse to work with volunteers. 
  • All staff work with volunteers. ALL STAFF. That means all staff — every paid person and all volunteers — create assignments for volunteers and/or work with volunteers. That means, even though there were just two organizations represented at this training, I wasn’t speaking to just two people: the designated volunteer coordinators. Instead, I was also talking to paid staff, volunteer staff, players, event volunteers, committee chairs, skating officials and on and on. 
  • It never dawned on them to value volunteers purely by an hourly monetary amount, and some of them were actually offended by the idea. They acknowledge that it’s sometimes necessary for a grant application, but otherwise, they have much better reasons for saying they involve volunteers, and why volunteers are necessary to the organization. 
  • They use every Internet tool and software tool they can find to work with and support volunteers – the value of such is obvious to them, with no need for a virtual volunteering workshop to convince them (as is with most traditional organizations).
  • Volunteers go to the same meetings as employees, and take leadership roles in coordinating events, reaching out to sponsors, selling merchandise, and representing the organization. You can’t tell who is or isn’t a volunteer just by a person’s title! 
  • They didn’t blink over the phrase, “If a task can be done by a human, it can be done by a volunteer.” When I use that statement in a training for traditional organizations, there is often an uproar (which is why I use it – how I love stirring things up!). The Roller Derby reps reaction: “yes, and?” 
  • They don’t look for ways to thank volunteers with regards to mugs and pins, or posters that say things like, “Volunteers are our angels!” They know what their volunteers want: real, sincere appreciation that permeates the organization, that doesn’t happen just on a volunteer appreciation luncheon that, at many other organizations, the board nor the Executive Director would even bother attending. 
  • While they want to be great at handling conflict among staff, including volunteers, they completely accept that conflict and criticisms happen and have no fear of such (most orgs I work with want to know how to prevent all conflict and criticism). 
  • They embrace the idea of most volunteers joining up because they want to have fun. They don’t think that’s a bad idea for volunteering. 
  • They have an organization that welcomes people of all ages and all walks of life, and these organizations could probably lead their own workshop on how to creating a welcoming environment for teen volunteers, LGBT volunteers, low-income volunteers, homeless volunteers, volunteers with disabilities and various other groups that are under-represented at so many other organizations. It’s a workshop I would LOVE to attend! 
  • Not once did I ever hear, “Oh, we’re not allowed to do that.” I hear that at least twice during presentations to other organizations. Not that these organizations don’t know and follow rules, like how to screen and supervise volunteers that will work with teens – but when it comes to ideas about new ways to work with volunteers, they never come from a place of fear. 
  • They laughed heartily at my story of a certain online discussion group for volunteer managers in the USA that shall remain nameless having constant discussions about where to find examples of forms and policies (“Don’t they know how to use Google?”) or how to ban volunteers that have tattoos (I can’t repeat what was said re: this). 

I got this gig because I did a presentation earlier this year for the Northwest Oregon Volunteer Administrators Association (NOVAA) on trends in volunteer engagement. NOVAA serves the greater Portland metropolitan area, including Vancouver, Washington. Afterwards, a woman came up, handed me a card, lauded me for my presentation and said, “You are soooo roller derby.”  

As I learned from attending two match nights, roller derby players leave everything on the track during a game, and I left everything in that conference room for this training on Sunday; I have never been more exhausted after a training, so determined was I to win these folks over and point them to the resources they need to be even more successful at engaging with volunteers. And one of my favorite comments afterwards was this:

“Srsly, this was awesome. I have a very low tolerance for BS facilitated meetings about hypothetical nonsense. This was none of that.”

Almost made me want to cry… a high compliment, indeed. 

If you are putting together a volunteer management conference, listen up: I’m happy to train, and I really hope you will invite me to do so. But invite someone from a roller derby league too – I recommend the Portland league in particular, of course. Because it’s long overdue for these conferences to get a shake up. And I think roller derby may be just the org to do it! 

I have seen the future of volunteer engagement and IT’S ROLLER DERBY.

Here’s a photo on Facebook that sums up just what an amazing experience matches can be, btw.

Adventure tourism as a tool for economic & community development

I’m passionate about travel – not just as something for myself, positive effects of tourism on economies and travelers (especially women) alike. The positive effects of tourism, or tourism for development, is something that has been of interest to me for several years, and something I continually research on my own, when I can find the time to do so.

Personally, I’m most fond of adventure travel: going to a location that offers basic accommodations (camping, hostels, in-home stays), food and cultural events unique to that area, and some activity or location that can best be enjoyed by hiking, kayaking, white-water rafting, bicycling, touring by motorcycle or horseback, etc.

The 2012 Adventure Travel World Summit was held in Switzerland in October (2013’s will be in Namibia). I would so love to go to one of these! (alas, no funds). When leaders of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), WWF International and Google addressed more than 600 tourism industry professionals during this year’s summit, a common refrain emerged: adventure travel as an economic driver, as a force of sustainable development and one that delivers to travelers transformative experiences in nature, culture and active travel. More about the summit here.

UNWTO and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, a global organization dedicated to responsibly growing the adventure travel market, have even announced a new partnership concerning global sustainable tourism development.

As both an adventure traveler and someone with experience in UN and other development initiatives, I would so love to be involved in this partnership somehow. Perhaps this blog might get someone’s attention?

Also see these resources I’ve developed that relate to tourism development:

Also see these organizations and individuals that tweet regarding tourism for good / for economic development.

    For those that want to help those affected by Sandy

    For all of you wanting to volunteer to help people affected by Sandy, and all of you wanting to donate clothing, food, or other things to help those affected by Sandy, please see these two resources ASAP:

    Volunteering To Help After Major Disasters

    Donating Things Instead of Cash or Time (In-Kind Contributions)

    Let’s give the REAL help that’s needed – or get out of the way and let those who know how to help do their jobs!

     

    Support Your Local Online Discussion Manager!

    I’ve dealt with a LOT of debates and conflict on a variety in online discussion groups, and that vast experience lead to creating this resource on how to deal with such, especially for nonprofits, NGOs, government agencies and other mission-based folks. It’s one of the most popular pages on my web site.

    Recently, an experience made me realize there was a crucial piece of advice missing on that resource. Here it is:

    Support Your Local Online Discussion Manager!

    When you, the Executive Director or Marketing Manager or Program Director, see your online discussion manager facilitating an online debate about something your organization is or isn’t doing, the temptation may be for you, the senior person, to jump in and start posting.

    That may or may not be a good idea.

    It’s a good idea if there is something you need to clarify that you can say better than your online discussion manager, particularly if it might relieve pressure on that person and allow him or her to move the discussion forward. It’s also a good idea if you see the manager under fire – it can be wonderfully motivating for an online community manager that is bruised from an online virtual debate to see your public support for him or her, and it can help for discussion group members see your faith in that person.

    However, it’s a bad idea if you are seen as “taking over;” your posting to the discussion can disempower your online discussion manager, reducing his or her importance to the community. Why should the community look to that person as their liaison with the organization online, when you’ve made it clear that YOU are higher up and in-charge, and you took over the discussion?

    If you think there is a different way to handle an online situation than your online discussion manager is doing, talk with that person FIRST, and if at all possible, have the discussion  manager continue to be the lead in facilitating the discussion. If you must post something, be sure to add verbiage that shows you still have faith and trust in your online discussion manager, and that you fully support that person.

    Read more about how to deal with online criticism / conflict.

    Join me on Twitter Oct. 23 for a tweetchat!

    On Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 1-2 p.m. New York City time (10 a.m. Oregon time), I’ll be leading the tweetchat on Twitter.

    The tweetchat is focused on building and sustaining online communities for nonprofits, charities, schools, government programs and other mission-based initiatives, though some corporate folks frequently show up and share.

    The focus of the chat tomorrow will be on cultivating leaders in online communities. A lively, information-rich online community rarely happens because of just one person answering questions, inviting and welcoming new members, facilitating discussions, regularly introducing new topics, etc. Rather, they happen because of a number of people taking on these roles, officially and unofficially. But how do you cultivate and keep such online leaders?

    Participating in the tweetchat is simple: you log into Twitter, and then you click on the link or do a search on the term #commbuild on Twitter. All messages with the #commbuild tag will appear. Keep reloading the tweets and you will see all new messages. To respond, just choose a message and click on “Reply”. Be sure to put the tag #commbuild in your message, however, so everyone else can see it too!

    The questions I’m going to be asking on this Tweetchat (subject to change!):

    Q1 What is an online community leader, from your POV? Define who that would be. 
    Q2 How do you recognize some1 emerging as an online community leader?
    Q3 When do you move some1 from unofficial leadership to official (written task description, dates of commitment, etc.)
    Q4 Have you ever made some1 an official community leader (facilitator, chat host, etc.) & regretted it? What happened/why?
    Q5 Have some1 ever asked to be made an official community leader & you have had to say no? What happened/why?
    Q6 Should community leaders have term expiration dates, or do you just keep them as long as they are around?
    Q7 How do you recognize/reward community leaders for their contributions?

    In addition to this being a terrific learning experience regarding how to cultivate community leaders in online communities, it’s also a great learning experience if you are new to Twitter or to tweetchats.

    More about the #commbuild tweetchat events.

    Chat with me on Twitter Oct. 2!

    On Tuesday, Oct. 2, from 1-2 p.m. New York City time (10 a.m. Oregon time), I’ll be leading the tweetchat on Twitter.

    The tweetchat is focused on building and sustaining online communities for nonprofits, charities, schools, government programs and other mission-based initiatives, though some corporate folks frequently show up and share.

    The focus of the chat tomorrow will be on dealing with conflict among members of an online community.

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I addressed it in this web page, Handling Online Criticism, which recently got quite a few mentions on Twitter. Just as criticism of an organization is inevitable on an online community, so is conflict among members. There’s no way to avoid it, but there are ways to address conflict that can help an organization maintain a reputation for being transparent and responsive, but without allowing someone to dominate a conversation and drown out others. How an organization handles online conflict speaks volumes about that organization, for weeks, months, and maybe even years to come.

    Participating in the tweetchat is simple: you log into Twitter, and then you click on the link or do a search on the term #commbuild on Twitter. All messages with the #commbuild tag will appear. Keep reloading the tweets and you will see all new messages. To respond, just choose a message and click on “Reply”. Be sure to put the tag #commbuild in your message, however, so everyone else can see it too!

    The questions I’m going to be asking on this Tweetchat (subject to change!):

    Q1: Is conflict in an online community avoidable?
    Q2: Is conflict on an online community ever healthy? Examples?
    Q3: Have YOU ever been an instigator or participant in a lively conflict on an online community?
    Q4: Do you include info about conflicts that happen on your community in staff meetings, or to your supervisor? Why/why not?
    Q5: Do you have written rules on how to deal with conflict on your online community?
    Q6: How long do you let conflict/debate go on on your online community?
    Q7: Have you ever said no to calls by others to ban a member? Why?
    Q8: When is it time to ask for a debate to stop?
    Q9: Other tips for dealing with conflict online?

    And regarding Q3: yes, I have been a participant in MANY lively conflicts in various online communities. Some of the experiences have actually been really gratifying: a problem that several people were experiencing got resolved, or minds got changed (this happened a few times in debates regarding virtual volunteering back in the 1990s). Some experiences have not been positive: I’ve lost respect for organizations and individuals who I felt were wanting to shut down debates because they didn’t like the opinions being expressed.

    In addition to this being a terrific learning experience regarding how to handle conflict on an online community, it’s also a great learning experience if you are new to Twitter or to tweetchats.

    More about the #commbuild tweetchat events.

    POSTSCRIPT: Archive of this tweetchat.

    NGOs are using the cloud – but there are barriers

    (by Patrick Duggan, TechSoup Marketing & Technology Writer; original post here)

    In 2012, TechSoup Global, in collaboration with our partners around the world, conducted a survey of nonprofits, charities, NGOs, and social benefit organizations around the globe.

    We wanted to better understand the current state of their technology infrastructure and their future plans for adopting cloud technologies.

    With more than 10,500 respondents in 88 countries, we’re pleased to add this data to our ever-evolving resources for nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, and those who support them.

    What Did We Find?

    NGOs are using the cloud. 90 percent of respondents worldwide indicated using some type of cloud technology, from “lightweight” services like email and social networking to “heavy weight” services like databases and web conferencing.

    There are barriers. Our survey found that lack of knowledge is the biggest barrier to additional cloud adoption, cited by 86 percent of the global respondents. Lack of knowledge was consistently reported as a barrier across geographies and organization sizes.

    We also found that:

    • 79 percent of respondents said the biggest advantage in adopting cloud technologies is administration-related, followed by cost savings and improved opportunities for collaboration.
    • 53 percent of respondents reported they plan to move a significant portion of their infrastructure to cloud-based systems and services over the next few years.

    How does your NGO compare? In the report, we examined what cloud applications NGOs are currently using and plan to use in the future, on a global and regional level.

    If you’re wondering if your fellow organizations are using cloud-based tools like office and accounting programs and collaboration software, our report has the answers.

    And more! Read more about our key findings. Learn about the current state of cloud computing at NGOs around the world, what these organizations see as the challenges and advantages of cloud technology, and how your own organization’s technology stacks up.

    Read the Report 

    Why We Conducted the Survey

    We had three objectives in mind when we conducted this survey:

    • Gauge how NGOs are responding to cloud computing in terms of current use
    • Measure what NGOs perceive as the barriers to, and advantages of, cloud computing
    • Better understand these organizations’ plans for adopting cloud technologies

    In short, our hope is that understanding NGOs’ perspectives on the cloud will not only provide insights for NGOs but will also help TechSoup Global and others better support nonprofits and NGOs in making informed decisions about whether cloud solutions are right for them.

    ————-

    Also see these results of survey regarding volunteer management software.

    Magical paychecks

    I’m on a lot of online communities, most focused on nonprofits in some way. And recently, on one of them, someone posted this:

    I need to have some kind of porn blocker software on the computers at our office, since volunteers have access to the computers.

    Sigh.

    Yes, that’s right: while employees, because of their paychecks, aren’t at all inclined to do anything inappropriate on work computers, volunteers, who are unpaid, just can’t stay away from online pornography.

    Sigh.

    I’ve heard people at nonprofit organizations talk about extensive training and supervision for volunteers regarding confidentiality, working with children and working with money, who then balk when I suggest exactly the same training and supervision is needed for paid employees.

    Paychecks are NOT magical! A paycheck doesn’t make someone more knowledgeable than a volunteer, more experienced, more trustworthy, more respectable nor safer.

    I love a paycheck as much as anyone! But it doesn’t give me super powers.

    More about working with volunteers.