5 Reasons to Donate to Passports With Purpose

Posted on | November 25, 2014 | No Comments

We’re pretty excited here at Passports with Purpose virtual HQ. Our catalogue is filling up with prizes, our bloggers are sending links to fabulous posts, and our start date is fast approaching. On Monday, December 1st at 11:59 p.m. EST, our catalogue will be live and our fundraiser to help families farm sustainably in Honduras will begin!

Sustainable Harvest International hug

But before we get started, we thought this would be a great time to step back and ask the question: Why donate to Passports with Purpose?

 

 

  • We know that there are many ways to give – especially at this time of year.
  • We know that there is an endless world of need.
  • We know that it’s hard to discern  what charities are on the up and up and who you can trust.
  • We know that with bad news coming from so many quarters, sometimes it’s also difficult to know just where to direct positive energy so that it has a meaningful effect.

And so that’s why we’re offering:

Our top 5 reasons for donating to Passports with Purpose

Honduran dirt1. You can trust our charities. The Passports with Purpose board works hard to vet the charities we choose to fund, starting months ahead of the fundraiser. Charities have to fill out an application and we go through a process of back and forth with them to make sure all of our questions are answered. We interview people on the board of the charity, look at the past work they’ve done (they have to have a least a three-year track record of completing similar projects), and make absolutely certain that everything looks good in their Charity Navigator profile (for this reason, we only work with not-for-profits in the United States, although we also require that they partner with an indigenous charity in the country we are supporting). We also tend to work with smaller organizations that don’t have a lot of overhead – so you know that the money you are giving goes directly to the people who need it most.

2. Our projects get done in places of great need. We fund only discrete, bricks-and-mortar projects with visible results. Whether it’s schools, libraries, villages, wells, or in this year’s case, farm fields in Honduras, everything we do is verifiable. And in fact, we’ve often gone to see the projects for ourselves. Members of our team have been to Zambia to see the libraries we built, Haiti for the opening of one of the wells, and board member Katie Aune headed to Mali this week to see the schools we funded in 2013. Our projects may not be the biggest – but you can rest assured that every one of them is meaningful, lasting, and has a direct impact on peoples’ lives.

3. You can make a difference without giving a lot. Over the past seven years, we’ve raised over $400,000. Some of that came from corporate sponsors, but the majority was made $10 at a time. That’s right: just $10 helps us meet our goals. And since our entire fundraiser is run online by volunteers, our overhead is incredibly low. In fact, 100 percent of the money given through our catalogue of prizes (minus the PayPal fees) goes directly to our charity of choice.

4. We represent the power of community. At the moment there 80 travel bloggers signed up to help out with Passports with Purpose in 2014. They have sought out prizes, will write posts, and will share, share, share on social media until their fingers are surely tired. Why? Because they believe in their collective power to make a difference. Because they love to travel the world and want to give something back to the planet. Because they are thrilled to give their readers a chance to win wonderful prizes while doing good. Because there is joy in working together. That’s why in 2013 Travel + Leisure put their stamp of approval on our work by giving us a SMITTY Award for the best use of social media by travel bloggers.

5. It’s fun! Who says generosity has to be a purely serious business? Our fundraiser offers a treasure trove of prizes to dream about, bid on, and yes, possibly even win. The joy of giving is magnified by the thrill of suspense as we all wait to see who the lucky winners are.

Sustainable Harvest childrenIf you are new to Passports with Purpose, welcome. We do hope you’ll join us.

Our fundraiser will take place from 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, December 1 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

And finally, in this season of gratitude, we want to say THANK YOU – thank you to our founders whose vision has held true all these years; thanks to our generous sponsors who provide us with cash donations and prizes; thanks to our travel bloggers who year after year come back with enthusiasm; and thanks to you, our donors who make our work possible.

All the photos in this post courtesy of Sustainable Harvest International – showcasing some of the work they do around Central America.

Visiting Our Schools in Mali

Posted on | November 16, 2014 | No Comments

Menie groundbreaking with chief

Last fall, we partnered with buildOn to raise $84,000 to build two schools in southern Mali. While we initially talked with buildOn about being able to visit the schools once they were built, at the time the fundraiser ended, they didn’t feel the security situation in the country was good enough to arrange a trip for the board members to visit (Islamic militants have occupied much of the northern part of the country for the last couple years, but the south, where our schools have been built, has been peaceful). A few months later, though, we discussed it some more and started to make arrangements for Katie to go this fall.

Construction on the schools started last spring. As with all buildOn schools, the residents of the two villages, Folona and Menie, came together and signed covenants promising that they would participate in the building of the schools and that they would then send their girls to school in equal numbers as their boys. Those are two of the factors that drew PwP to buildOn in the first place – their model of involving communities and promoting education for girls.

The schools were finished this summer and are now packed with kids, as the school year in Mali started in October. Katie is so excited to see them in use! The kids in Menie have never even had a school building to attend before!

Mali map

Her itinerary will go something like this: she will arrive in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Monday, November 24. On Tuesday, she’ll travel to one village with a local staff member of buildOn and stay overnight with a family there. The next day, she’ll travel to the second village and then spend the night there. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day!), she will head back to Bamako to spend some more time in Mali before heading off to Burkina Faso for a week.

Katie won’t have internet access while she is in Folona and Menie, but she hopes to be able to share photos (and maybe even video!) as soon as she  gets back to Bamako. Watch the Passports with Purpose Facebook page and Twitter feed for those! And of course, we’ll have a full report once she returns.

And don’t forget – we’re just a couple weeks away from this fall’s fundraiser, raising money for Sustainable Harvest International. We hope you’ll join us again to make a difference!

5 Tips for Better Passports with Purpose Blog Posts

Posted on | November 14, 2014 | 1 Comment

Boy with seedling HondurasWe’re revving up our engines, anxious to hit the road on December 1 when blogger posts go live and Passports with Purpose opens up for donations. Lots of amazing prizes are in the bag.

Prizes were due November 10th. If you didn’t quite make that date, you can still squeak in. Just check out our prize guidelines and make sure that your prize sponsor fills out this procurement form. We will continue accepting prizes this week, but the sooner you or your donor can get your prize submitted the better.

How about you? Are you ready to publish a home run blog post? In the six years that we’ve been running this fundraiser, we’ve picked up a few ideas on what makes a great PwP prize post.

Here are our best tips for better blog posts:

  1. Basics – Although PwP is well known in the travel community, it may be new to your readers. Describe PwP and how the fundraiser works – we’ve outlined that in our FAQs. Since it can be a lot to put in one post, some bloggers prefer to write two blog posts: one describing Passports with Purpose, and another describing their prize. Keep in mind that we will link to the prize post from the catalogue.
  2. Eye on the Prize – Personalize the post. If you’ve visited or dreamed of the destination, do tell. If you’re offering travel gear, include a short review. Whatever you do, please include a photo of the prize – preferably one that is Pinterest-friendly, as we will be sharing your prize post on our Pinterest prize board. Not hosting a prize? No worries. It still helps us out if you write about PwP and share a link to our catalogue.
  3. Point of it All – Let readers know why you’re participating in PwP and tell them about Sustainable Harvest International (SHI). For each $5000 we raise during the fundraiser, SHI will help on extended family in Honduras learn to farm sustainably and feed their family. Training will last for five years with lasting benefits for the entire community. You can learn more about SHI in our blog post; visit their media newsroom for photos, logos, and information. A key point is that 100 percent of donations, exclusive of PayPal fees, will go to SHI.
  4. Call to Action - Drive readers to bid on prizes by checking out all the incredible prizes that bloggers have contributed to the PwP catalogue (the catalogue will not be live until the evening of December 1st).
  5. Thank Sponsors – It goes without saying that you will want to thank the provider of your prize, but do take a moment to thank the sponsors who help make PwP happen: TBEX and HomeAway.

Link It Up

Look for an email from us between 11/21 and 11/28  (that means you should be sure to add info [at] passportswithpurpose.org to your list of accepted sites in your email account). It will include instructions that show you how to enter the link to your prize post on our site. This is the link we will use in the prize catalogue.

Please plan to have the post ready and a link entered in our site no later than Sunday, 11/29/2014. The post should not publish until 11:59 EST December 1st.

And just few more things…

 

We’re now accepting prizes!

Posted on | November 5, 2014 | No Comments

Sustainable Harvest International Buena Vista HondurasGreat news! Our prize procurement form is live. So bring on the fabulous – we are ready to receive it. We’ve extended our prize entry deadline and you now have until Monday, November 10, 2014 to fill out the form.

One thing that’s a little different this year: The information you enter will be going directly into our online catalogue. Of course, we’ll be double checking and proofing your entries, but you have a great opportunity here to describe the prize in your own words. And as we did last year, we will include photos with every prize, so you will want to be sure to have one ready when you fill out the form. Feel free to make your prize look and sound shiny and exciting.

Bloggers: Don’t have a prize yet? It’s not too late to ask your favorite travel brand if they’d like to donate one. We have tips for you.

Get ready for the fundraiser

Once you’ve got your prize entered the fun really begins. It’s time to prepare for the fundraiser, which (gentle reminder) starts on December 1 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Bloggers should prepare their posts. You’ll need to have your post thanking your sponsor, describing your prize, and explaining the fundraiser with a link to our prize catalogue ready by Saturday, November 29 (although it shouldn’t be set to publish until 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1). You will receive an email reminder from us with a form to enter your link. We’ll be sharing examples of past posts and offering tips in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.

Put the PwP widget up on your site. All the best-dressed sites are wearing it. Visit our widget page and copy the code. It will update automatically when the fundraiser starts.

Make some noise. This is a great time to start promoting the fundraiser and getting your readers and followers excited about it. Remember that for every $5000 that we raise this year Sustainable Harvest International will help one extended family in Honduras learn to farm sustainably for five years with lasting benefits for them and their community. We use the hashtag #PWP.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to let us know either on social media or through our contact form. We can’t wait to see all the goodies you’ve worked so hard to find. Thanks, as always, for showing us the best side of the travel industry.

We’re in Athens!

Posted on | October 22, 2014 | No Comments

AcropolisThis week marks the start of TBEX Europe, the big travel bloggers’ conference, which is taking place in Athens, Greece. We have two smiling and enthusiastic faces representing us there – Jess and Arua of The Gap Year Guru are ready to answer any and all questions about our charity beneficiary Sustainable Harvest as well as sharing opportunities for sponsorship and participation. Jess is serving as our social media coordinator this year and so you may have already met her online, but if you’re attending the conference you can see her in person as she will be at our table during the speed networking hours of the schedule.

We’re very grateful to TBEX for sponsoring us in both North American and Europe each year. They give us an invaluable opportunity to connect with members of the online travel community and to spread the word about our efforts on their blog and social media accounts. We certainly wish them and everyone else in Athens a successful and productive conference.

This is also a great moment to remember that the clock is ticking – our fundraiser starts in just under six weeks. If you’re a travel blogger who is interested in participating in Passports With Purpose this year, it’s not too late! We hope you’ll stop by our table in Athens and say hello. Not going to Greece? Sign up on our website instead and we’ll be in touch.

Get to know Sustainable Harvest International

Posted on | September 10, 2014 | No Comments

Passports with Purpose is so excited to work with Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) this year. As we got to learn more about them, we knew you would too. Here is a bit more about this amazing organization, from Sarah Clemens, development director of Sustainable Harvest International.

The 2.1 billion people living in poverty in rural areas worldwide suffer from ongoing malnutrition and inability to meet their basic needs. Though most have access to land and other natural resources and a desire to learn new farming techniques, they lack the intensive technical assistance necessary to recuperate degraded lands and make them productive in the long term. DCF 1.0

Typically, people in Central America and other parts of the tropics farm using the slash-and-burn method, which requires new areas to be cleared each year by burning the natural forest. Crops are planted and harvested for one year, which depletes the land and requires farmers to burn a new area the next year. Eventually, land becomes so depleted that crops can no longer be grown. Farmers are forced to start over again in areas of virgin forest (often in protected areas) or relocate to urban slums in hopes of finding employment that is scarce and often abysmal for those with very limited education. With little margin for error and few learning opportunities, farmers are hesitant to try new farming practices unless the transition is done slowly, in conjunction with a trusted and reliable expert.

In the face of these challenges, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has directly or indirectly helped 100,000 rural poor people to become stewards of our environment.  Five elements make our approach successful: SHI provides long-term assistance to ensure that changes take root; SHI selects communities based on socioeconomic and environmental conditions; SHI operates as a lean organization with low administrative overhead; SHI empowers individuals and promotes cooperative sharing of knowledge and resources; and SHI builds resilient communities that require minimal input from external sources.Don_Cheyo_1

Started in 1997, Sustainable Harvest International’s Honduras program is the organization’s largest and oldest program and is noted for its commitment to community participation and empowerment. SHI currently works with 186 farming families in the Santa Barbara and Yoro departments to provide them practical, hands-on training to improve degraded lands and rebuild ecosystems that were once rich in biodiversity. In 2013 alone, the Honduras program planted 178,000 trees and converted nearly 150 acres to sustainable, organic agriculture.

One of SHI’s leading objectives is the development of community leaders who have significant knowledge of sustainable farming and environmental conservation. These leaders are expected to train their neighbors, so that the actions being undertaken with SHI’s support have a multiplier effect. Development of these community leaders is critical in order to reach a tipping point in the community, in which more families choose to adopt sustainable practices rather than continuing with conventional methods. SHI’s “theory of change” holds that once this tipping point is reached, noticeable changes will occur in the lives of rural families, and improvements to the local environment will be made.

Don_Cheyo_2One such community leader is Don Cheyo. As a successful graduate of SHI’s Honduras program, Don Cheyo reflects on how far he has come, Before I grew just corn and coffee and now look at what I done for myself, for my children, for my grandchildren. We eat better and we live with the land. I plant good food and I have learned how to build up the soil and plant trees. I sell what I grow and I have purchased this land for my children. It is for them that we are working for a better future.”

We invite you to take a glimpse into Don Cheyo’s life in the follow short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX5WXGtnq7Y&list=PLJfxY4J2DV3kALWCG45Qa5IqA2RCkwmGq

 

 

 

 

What’s new with Passports with Purpose

Posted on | September 3, 2014 | No Comments

Honduras Sustainable Harvest InternationalFall is always an exciting time for Passports With Purpose. It’s when we begin gearing up for our online fundraiser, thinking about all the great prizes we’ll have to give away, and seeing bloggers sign up to participate. Like kids at back-to-school time we’re excited to greet old friends as they join us and meet all the new ones who come along.

The fundraiser will take place in a few short months from Monday, December 1 at 11:59 pm EST until Wednesday, December 17 at 11:59 pm EST. We can’t wait to help families in Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International. But before we do, we’d like to share what’s happening behind the scenes at our virtual headquarters.

Say hello to the new faces on our team

Dave ParfittDave Parfitt has a PhD in neuroscience and a heart that loves to travel with his family. The founder and publisher of Adventures By Daddy he also believes in giving back – not only through Passports With Purpose by raising money for Give Kids the World. He’s an avid runner, a great photographer, and a very nice guy. Which is why we’re so happy to have him join us as our blogger liaison. He’ll be the main point of contact for all bloggers who sign up for the fundraiser and will be there to answer questions and help support them every step of the way. You can find Dave on Twitter at @AdventuresbyDad. If you’re a blogger who plans to participate you’ll see Dave’s signature on all the #PWP emails.

Jessica Glynn

Joining us from from Ireland is the vivacious Jessica Glynn. A photographer and blogger also known as The Gap Year Guru, Jess has an infectious enthusiasm for travel. She’s been all over the globe from South America to Australia. She’s equally enthusiastic about helping others and has the Irish gift of gab, making her the perfect person to head up our social media efforts. If you stop by our Facebook page or Twitter account you’ll likely find Jess there sharing news and stories. She’ll also be representing Passports With Purpose at the Athens TBEX Conference (more on that in a moment). Greet Jess on Twitter at the @PassportpPurpose handle or @TheGapYearGuru.

Come say hi at TBEX – and a discount for our community

We’re kicking off the fall season with a bang this year by attending not one but two TBEX travel blogging conferences. TBEX has been a sponsor of Passports With Purpose for several years and we’re so grateful for their continued support.

We will have tables in both Cancun from September 11 through 13, where you can chat with board member Mara Gorman, and Athens from October 23 through 25, where Jess Glynn will be ready to answer all your questions. We hope you’ll stop by to say hello, to find out more about this year’s charity, to sign up as a blogger or sponsor, or to introduce new friends who are interested in joining us this year.

As an added bonus of their sponsorship, TBEX is offering a discount to the Passports With Purpose community. Enter the code PURPOSE20 when you register for either the North American or European conference and get 20 percent off the cost of your ticket.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until TBEX to get involved. Bloggers can sign up today. Interested in sponsoring our efforts? Learn more.

We hope to see you in person in Mexico or Greece or virtually on social media. And remember, if you have any questions, you can always send us a tweet or fill out our contact form.

Help us Help families in Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International

Posted on | July 28, 2014 | 1 Comment

Can you believe that 2014 is lucky number seven for Passports With Purpose? From schools to libraries to homes to wells, from Cambodia to Haiti to Mali, there’s been so much goodness that’s come of out our little online fundraiser. Who would have thought that bloggers, who spend their days working in the ephemera that is the internet, could make a difference in such concrete ways?

We’re very proud of all that work. But we’re not looking back – oh, no, quite the opposite. In fact, today Passports With Purpose is only looking ahead.

We’re happy to announce our 2014 partnership with Sustainable Harvest International

Farming in Central America has too often meant practices that lead to environmental degradation and endemic poverty. Since 1997, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has been working in the region to help family farmers not only grow their own food but to understand how to do so in a way that protects the ecosystems they live in and prevent tropical deforestation.

Sustainable Harvest International

The 2014 Passports With Purpose fundraiser will support SHI’s efforts in Honduras. And this year, instead of setting a fundraising goal we’re offering the following challenge:

For each $5000 we raise, Sustainable Harvest can help a family in Honduras for five years.

That’s especially meaningful because the approach that Sustainable Harvest uses is meant to be long-term, to make sure the programs take root in the communities they serve. SHI applies varied strategies that see them partnering with the communities, developing solutions together and then implementing those solutions, always with an eye toward independence and the sustainability that’s in their very name. We will be providing money that buys not only tools and supplies but also the necessary time to establish real roots and develop real solutions.

The sky is the limit – the more money we raise, the more lives we can touch.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We’ll be sharing more about SHI in the days to come, but please feel free to visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook to learn more.

Helping $10 at a time

Our approach to raising money has always been primarily grassroots and driven by the online community. Bloggers either purchase or procure a prize from a sponsor and we auction off the prizes online. Every $10 buys a chance to win something fabulous from a resort vacation to a camera to a stylish new suitcase. We give every dime that goes into the prize pot to Sustainable Harvest International.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We are the traveler blogger’s fundraiser, and this year that is more true than ever – when the Passports with Purpose board was trying to decide what charitable project to fund, we turned to our 2013 participating bloggers and asked them to share their what type of project, and in what location, they’d be most excited to fund. This project was the overwhelming favorite.

You can make a difference

It seems like there is plenty of bad news to go around of late, perhaps even more than usual. But the next time you see a report about the crushing poverty in Central America that is driving women and children to flee to the United States in record numbers remember that there is something you can do.

Are you a travel blogger? Sign up to participate.

Do you work for a company that makes matching donations? Start making inquiries now and plan to include Passports With Purpose in your end-of-year giving.

Want to sponsor our efforts? Let us know.

And no matter what role you want to play, stay up-to-date with all our news by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Pass along our news to the world using the hashtag #PWP.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get started working to raise money that will improve both lives and the ecosystem in Honduras – we hope that you’ll join us along the way. Thanks, as always for your help and support. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Making Progress in Mali

Posted on | June 9, 2014 | 1 Comment

Last fall, we raised $84,000 for buildOn to construct schools in two villages in rural Mali.  We are excited to share that the villages broke ground for their schools in May and should soon be complete. We are also excited to share a little more about each village and the children you are helping to educate.

Mali map

Menie

One school is being built in Menie, a village that didn’t previously have any kind of school building. Menie was founded about 800 years ago in the Sikasso region of Mali. Villagers raise grains, peanuts and cotton and earn income from small trade and animal breeding. In the past, children had to walk six kilometers each way to get to school, so the construction of a school in Menie itself will have a huge impact.

Menie groundbreaking with chief

The village chief officially breaks ground for the new school.

Menie cement mixing

Community members mix cement for the new school.

Two students who will attend the new school are 11-year-old Lassina Togola and 14-year-old Mamou Togola. Lassina is the first in his family to attend school. His favorite subject is math and he wants to be a policeman when he grows up. Mamou’s mother went to school through grade 3, but her father never attended. Her favorite subjects are history and geography and she wants to be a teacher.

Lassina Togola

Lassina Togola

Mamou Togola

Mamou Togola

Folona

The other school is being constructed in the village of Folona, also in the Sikasso region of Mali. Villagers raise crops such as peanuts, corn, millet and rice and earn income from gardening and raising animals. Folona currently has a school that looks like this:

Folona old school

Existing school building in Folona.

The school we have funded will replace the one above.  Currently 125 students attend the school – 58 boys and 67 girls – and three teachers teach classes.

Folona goundbreaking

Community members sign a covenant at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Folona school

Progress on the new Folona school.

Toma Bagayoko is a 14-year-old who is the first in his family to attend school. Currently in grade 6, his favorite subject is biology and he hopes to be a doctor. Sali Traore is a 15-year-old in Folona who is also in grade 6. Both of her parents are literate, but her father dropped out of school in grade 7. Her favorite subject is math and she hopes to be a math teacher when she is older.

Toma Bagayoko

Toma Bagayoko

Sali Traore

Sali Traore

Thanks to all of you, Toma, Sali, Lassina, Mamou and all of their classmates will have the opportunity to further their educations and fulfill their dreams.

We’re Growing Our Team – and We Need Volunteers!

Posted on | May 13, 2014 | 1 Comment

Two students in the libraryDo you have a passion for doing good and a desire to be involved in the biggest, longest-running travel blogger fundraiser on the Internet? Do you want to work with a great team of like-minded individuals? Or have you ever wondered just what goes on behind the scenes here in Passports-with-Purpose Land?

If so, we may have a job for you. We’re looking for some new volunteer team members to help us plan and execute our 2014 fundraiser.

So just what are we looking for?

Although the work can be done from any location and will be spread out through the year, volunteers should be available to help during our 2014 fundraiser from December 1, 2014 until December 17, 2014. In addition, we will be asking all volunteers to commit to staying on the team through at least the end of January, 2015.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Social Media coordinator: This person will be responsible for coordinating our social media strategy from the time he or she signs on through the end of 2014. In addition to spreading the good word about PwP, we need to engage with our audience and share news about our doings. Since all of our fundraising happens online, this person must be available for the entirety of our fundraiser from December 1, 2014 until December 17, 2014. Requirements: Outgoing personality and great Twitter, Facebook, and Google + skills, with a touch of Pinterest and Instagram ability as well.

Technical consultant/developer: This person will help maintain and update the PwP website including the prize catalogue and all forms on the site. We’re looking for someone with strong WordPress administration skills including experience with theme modifications, plug-ins compatibility, installation and management. Competency with SQL, CSS and HTML would also be great.

PR and Sponsorship assistant: This person will assist in communicating with potential and existing sponsors. The ideal candidate will have great communication skills as well as experience working on brand campaigns and contacts within the travel industry.

If any of these jobs sounds like it would be right up your alley, please fill out our Contact Form and let us know – we’ll be in touch. And if you’re interested in joining us as a blogger or sponsor in 2014, the links below take you to our blogger sign-up form and our sponsorship information page. (Bloggers should remember that even if they have signed up in the past, they need to fill out the form once again for 2014.)

Sign up as a Passports with Purpose blogger.

Learn about joining Passports with Purpose as a sponsor.

keep looking »

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