Over $25,000 Raised! Thank you

Posted on | December 18, 2014 | 1 Comment

We hope that everyone who participated in this year’s fundraiser had as much fun as we did. Through efforts all over the world, we have raised over $25,000 for Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), which will give them the means to help 5 families in Honduras for 5 years.

What do those numbers mean? They mean the development of at least five community leaders who can show their neighbors how to farm sustainably.They mean tens if not hundreds of people provided with the means to produce nourishing food into perpetuity. They mean thousands of trees planted. But most of all they mean hope and empowerment in a place where those things are in short supply.

Thank youWe’ll have the final tally as we receive company matches and as additional donations come in. Stay tuned as we continue to work with SHI and watch your donations help families in Honduras. Huge thanks to all of our donors, bloggers, and sponsors.

Prize winners will be chosen at random and then notified along with host bloggers on December 21, 2014. Good luck!

We’d like to take a moment here to say a special word of thanks to our sponsors HomeAway and TBEX for their generous and ongoing support. They are a key part of what makes our fundraiser work.

Sustainable Harvest International does periodically run service trips to Central America. If you are interested in joining them or just want to learn more about their ongoing efforts we encourage you to sign up for their mailing list.

And if you are still interested in donating, you can do that HERE. One hundred percent of all donations, minus PayPal fees, will got toward supporting SHI’s work in Honduras.

While we wait to let the winners know about their wonderful prizes, we hope you’ll read about Katie Aune’s trip to Mali, where she visited the schools in Menie and Folona, which you helped build through last year’s fundraiser with buildOn.

But most of all we hope you accept the gratitude of the entire Passports with Purpose team. Every year we are blown away by the support we get from the online community. If you contributed in any way we hope you’ll take a moment today to feel good for making a difference in the lives many families and children.

 

Guest Post: What I saw in Honduras

Posted on | December 16, 2014 | No Comments

This post was written by Angelica of the blog Brooklyn Chick Travels who joined Passports with Purpose as a blogger for the first time this year. 

Visiting Honduras last year was so unexpected to me and not planned at all. I knew of the country of course, but had no thoughts of traveling to it. So how did I decide to travel to Honduras? Very spontaneously I’ll tell you. I was reading a scuba diving magazine when I came across the Utila Dive Fest, which was just approaching its second annual event in 2013. I hopped right onto the Internet and not even two weeks later, I had my ticket booked!

When I mentioned that I was traveling to Honduras, no one seemed to know much about it except for the fact that it is considered a “poor” country with crime. I thought this sounded very stereotypical, as I knew there is so much more to Honduras than that. But as with many stereotypes, sadly, there is truth in it. Honduras is not in a good economic state and the standard of living is not great. Forbes.com lists it as the second poorest county in Central America.

honduras view from sky

I spent one week in Honduras where I traveled between San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and the Bay Islands, and I truly have a soft spot in my heart for the country. The people are all so friendly and they try hard to have a good life.  This in spite of the fact that 65 percent of the population is classified as “poverty level” and their currency is at a low. While it’s great for Americans to be able to purchase a two-dollar meal, it’s not so wonderful for the people who live there.

When in the city of San Pedro Sula, even if you’re sitting around the airport, you will see numerous missionaries coming in and getting on buses to help communities in Honduras. I spoke with some of them and there were a variety of individuals for different causes – volunteers to help with farming, doctors, social workers, home-builders, teachers, and more.

I even met individuals who had come on their own to help out.  One woman in her twenties travels once every year to stay with a different family in Honduras, help them with their homes, and children.  She travels hours into the hills into villages where there are no cars or buses and schools or stores are miles away.

utila family in meadow

About 75 percent of Hondurans live in the hills. I drove (in a taxi) through some of the hills and impoverished towns where many houses aren’t fully completed or are in a state of major construction. Some look similar to beach shacks where families are clearly doing the best they can to fit many people into one or two rooms.

honduras unfinished house

Stores are few and far between outside of the cities. It’s obvious that the people in rural areas have little to sell and few resources to buy things.

utila homes

Honduras’ main exports are coffee, sugar cane, African palm, bananas, and corn. There are many farms as families try to also grow their own food to help feed their families. I’ve tasted the food grown on the lands of Honduras and it is delicious!  No chemicals used and fresh from the ground – even live chickens roaming around and reproduced to provide meat to eat.

I hope to see Honduras improve in their standard of living in the near future as the word spreads that they are in need, and that it is a beautiful country! It doesn’t have to be a 5 or even a 3 star resort to bring people in. Honduras can only be benefited by us and it will grow into better living.

We’re so happy to be partnering with Sustainable Harvest International to improve living conditions and farming practices for families in Honduras. As Angelica saw with her own eyes, it is a place that has much to offer when given the opportunity to do so.

 

Which Prizes Could Use Some More Love?

Posted on | December 11, 2014 | No Comments

map-n-passport2We’re just over halfway through this year’s fundraiser and we’ve almost raised enough to support three families in Honduras!

Now if you haven’t yet donated (or even if you have), you may be wondering which prizes give you the best shot at winning, i.e., the ones that haven’t attracted quite as much attention so far. Wonder no more! We’ve gone through all the entries and compiled a list of the prizes that could use a little more love. Hint: take a look at the gift certificates and travel gear!

Remember – every $10 you donate gets you one entry into the free drawing for the prize of your choice. And every $10 gets us that much closer to helping Sustainable Harvest International support another family in Honduras!

Gift Certificates

Gift certificate to EatWell DC ($100)

One-Year Business Photo Hosting Account on SmugMug ($300)

School Credit for Gently Used Brandname Children’s Clothing $100)

V.I. is Paradise gift certificate for outings in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands ($100)

Travel Gear

Osprey Waypoint 80 Men’s Backpack ($280)

Synapse 25 Black Dyneema/Iberian Backpack ($195)

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 30 Camera Bag

Traveling with Littles Bundle of Family-Friendly Gear ($600)

Hotels (North America)

Lake Erie Shores & Islands Getaway ($304)

Two Nights at the Marriott Courtyard Jacksonville Mayo Clinic/Beaches ($170)

Two Night Stay at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort ($500)

Two Night Stay in an Anaheim area hotel ($350)

Tours

Two Orlando Explorer Passes ($180)

Two Rome Tours for Two People ($250)

Clothing

El Camino Travel Bracelet Starter Pack ($210)

Other

Eight day passes for the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT ($80)

ENO Wine Bar experience for six in Washington, D.C. ($225)

Lifetime Membership to Travel Blog Success ($347)

One Year HomeExchange.com Membership ($120)

Our bloggers were at the White House

Posted on | December 10, 2014 | No Comments

White HouseYesterday the White House, in conjunction with Hosteling International, convened a meeting of 100 influential travel bloggers to talk about global awareness, travel, and study abroad programs in the United States. Titled the White House Summit on Travel Abroad and Global Citizenship, it included a wide-ranging discussion of the importance of international education and travel. Attendees were addressed by the White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen. They also had the chance to listen to discussion among representatives from organizations such as the Peace Corps, Gilman Scholarships, and the Fulbright Scholarship program and travel editors and writers like Paula Froelich, Editor in Chief of Yahoo Travel and Robert Reid, who writes for National Geographic.

We are proud that four of the bloggers participating in this year’s Passports with Purpose fundraiser were invited to the White House.

Kara Williams who blogs for both The Vacation Gals and Expedia spent last summer working as the Communications Coordinator on a Semester at Sea voyage. Appropriately enough, her PwP prize this year is a snazzy, yellow eBags hardside carryon suitcase.

David Lee is the founder and editor in chief of Go Backpacking and Travel Blog Success who has chosen expat life in Colombia. His prize is a great one for fellow travel bloggers: A lifetime membership to Travel Blog Success, which helps bloggers make money from their work.

Colleen Lanin spent her junior year of college in France and has long been an advocate for traveling families on her site The Travel Mamas. She also co-hosts the #KidsNTrips Twitter chat, which from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. PST on Thursday, December 11 will focus on Passports with Purpose. Her prize is a one-year Home Exchange membership. The winner will have a chance to exchange stays in their own home with apartments, villas, and houses all over the world.

Elena Sonnino, a first-generation American whose family hails from Italy, is a writer and educator who encourages travel as a means to wellness on her site Live, Do, Grow. Her prize lets the winner and friends travel the world through wine at the ENO wine bar in Washington, DC.

Please join us in congratulating these four bloggers on such a prestigious invitation. We’re thrilled both that they got to participate and that the government of the United States recognizes the importance of study and travel abroad and we hope that it inspires a whole new generation of students (all potential travel bloggers!) to visit other countries and reach out to help in the places that have the most need.

Here at Passports with Purpose, we believe very much in the value of exposure to other cultures. All of us on the PwP board and volunteer team have either studied or lived abroad. Not only that, but the charity we are supporting this year, Sustainable Harvest International, was founded by Florence Reed, a former Peace Corps volunteer. Her work in Panama showed her the human cost of tropical deforestation.

Interested in watching a broadcast of the proceedings? A stream of the summit is available.

P.S.Want to see he rest of our prizes? Please visit our catalogue. Every $10 donated enters you to win. All donations, exclusive of Paypal fees, goes to Sustainable Harvest International to help farmers in Honduras.

Donate Now!

Posted on | December 1, 2014 | 1 Comment

Welcome to the 7th annual Passports with Purpose travel bloggers fundraiser! B3ynYHlCQAEWEOd

The prize catalog is now open and we’re taking donations for our 2014 beneficiary, Sustainable Harvest International. Check out the hotel stays near and far, clothing, electronics, gift certificates, tours, travel gear and more! They make great gifts for the holidays, and best of all you are helping someone in need.

Each year we raise thousands of dollars $10 at a time and each $10 means so much. For every $5000 that we raise, 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.

The prize catalogue will be up and donations accepted for a chance to win a prize until December 17, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. You can still donate after that, you just won’t be able to win a fab prize.

We can’t thank everyone enough for making this happen. A huge thank you to the bloggers and prize donors; everyone who tells a friend about Passports with Purpose on social media and asks them to donate; those of you who have hosted our widget; our volunteers who work behind the scenes and our sponsors who give generously.

So what are you waiting for, go donate and tell a friend about #PwP!

THANK YOU!!

It’s Almost Time!

Posted on | December 1, 2014 | No Comments

Yes, the time for the Passports with Purpose fundraiser to begin is almost here!widget-250x250

We’re checking the prizes that are coming in (hotel stays, amazing experiences and more!), doing some last-minute housekeeping and getting everything ready for the big launch today at 11:59 pm EST.

So, go about your day (or night, depending on where in the world you are visiting us from), but come back at 11:59 pm EST when the prizes will be up and the fundraiser for Sustainable Harvest International will officially begin.

5 Reasons to Donate to Passports With Purpose

Posted on | November 25, 2014 | No Comments

UPDATE: Our prize catalogue is live! After you’ve had a chance to convince yourself with our excellent reasons to donate, we hope you’ll check it out.

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.

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