Time to Raise Funds for Mali

Posted on | November 26, 2013 | No Comments

The time is NOW!

Looking to check out all the amazing prizes procured by the travel blogging community?

Prize Catalogue Page

Here is the PRIZE CATALOGUE page where you can donate $10 for a chance to win hotel stays, tours, travel gear, clothing, gift certificates, electronics and MORE! Donations for prizes accepted between November 25, 2013 at 11:59pm EST to December 9, 2013, 11:59pm EST. Winners will be chosen at random and notified on December 16, 2013.

Looking to donate directly to buildOn without entering to win a prize? Visit the DONATE page.

And if you haven’t already updated your fundraising widget, please get the latest one here.

THANK YOU, for helping us reach our goal to raise $115,000 to construct three schools and fund three adult literacy programs in Mali.

Seven reasons why we’ve got a headstart on fundraising

Posted on | November 20, 2013 | No Comments

Finished SchoolCan you believe we’re less than a week away from launching the sixth annual Passports with Purpose?! Our virtual doors open on November 25 at 11:59pm EST. We can’t thank the travel blogging community enough for stepping up with some amazing prizes and travel companies for donating prizes to raise funds for buildOn. Last, but not least, we also want to say thank you to the handful of travel companies who are committed to helping us reach our goal by becoming a sponsor.

Some, like HomeAway, have been with us since year one (even donating a fabulous prize).

“This will be our sixth year participating in Passports with Purpose, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help support this year’s initiative. We have been involved since the first event in 2009 and are incredibly proud to see how PwP has grown — uniting bloggers and stakeholders within the travel community to bring about change, each year even more impactful than the last. It’s been a pleasure to be involved and help make a difference in the world.”

We’re excited to welcome back two sponsors, Hostelbookers and GowithOh.

“Once again HostelBookers is delighted to support a wonderful project like Passports with Purpose and is proud be involved with such an important initiative,” said Preeti Vadgama of Hostelbookers. “The money PwP is looking to raise, $115,000, will help this worthy organization achieve their compassionate task to construct schools and adult literacy programs in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa.”

“When the chance came up to be a sponsor of Passports with Purpose again this year, we said yes in a heartbeat,” said GowithOh’s Victoria Ducournau. “We have a really special relationship with the travel bloggers we work with and we know that this is a cause they hold dear. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of such an inspiring initiative.”

And we’re extremely grateful to the newbies of the PwP community: Eating London Food Tours, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Guides and Collette Vacations.

“DK Eyewitness Travel Guides is proud to sponsor Passports with Purpose, working to build not just schools but also a strong community of like-minded travelers making a difference. We believe that an informed traveler discovers more on their journeys and that education—like travel—has the power to transform lives.”

“As a company that showcases the world to our travelers, we are dedicated to partnering with communities and organizations that make positive change, specifically for the lives of children across the globe,” shares Daniel Sullivan Jr., president & CEO of Collette Vacations. “We are honored to sponsor Passports with Purpose and this year’s recipient buildOn for such a worthwhile effort that will benefit the education of families in Mali.”

“For us at Eating London traveling is one of life’s greatest experiences because it opens your eyes to all the beauty and diversity in the world, as well as its inequality. Passports for Purpose is harnessing people’s passion for travel and directing it towards making a difference in the lives of those in need. We are very proud to support two deserving organizations, PwP and buildOn,” said Kenny Dunn from Eating London Food Tours.

“Rough Guides is passionate about inspiring people to explore the world, share their experiences, and make the most of their time on earth. Our hope is that by partnering with Passports with Purpose to support buildOn’s work in Mali, we can make a lasting difference in the world through the travel.”

Want to help show them some love (because they certainly show their love for what we’re doing here!)? Here’s a quick list of who they are and what they do, to include in your blog posts.

See you back here on November 25!

Photo courtesy of buildOn.

Mali, the Philippines, and why we hope you’ll join us November 26

Posted on | November 17, 2013 | No Comments

The end of the year is an exciting time for the Passports with Purpose team. We can’t wait for our fundraiser to begin, for the travel blogging community to once again demonstrate how it can come together to make a difference. For that reason, October or November may be when you hear the most about PwP – we’re all about encouraging everyone to spread the word.

But in fact, Passports with Purpose takes a full twelve months to plan and execute. That’s because we work hard and carefully to choose a charity we know can deliver on the promises it makes. It’s extremely important to us that everyone who donates to PwP – whether they give $10 or $10,000 – knows that their money is well spent and that it is in fact going directly to the country and people we have all committed to help.

Like everyone else, we are hugely concerned about the situation in the Philippines. The news coming out of that country is devastating, the pictures beyond belief. It is obvious that much help is needed there and that it will be needed for years to come.

buildOn Mali girl

The sad fact is that no one country has a monopoly on human misery. From Syria to the Sudan to Haiti there are many places on this Earth where enormous and complex suffering are a fact of life. The need in Mali is as pressing as it was when we chose buildOn to be our 2013 beneficiary. There is still violent unrest there. It is still one of the poorest nations in the world. It still has one of the lowest literacy rates globally. All of this will remain so after we have helped construct schools there.

As has always been the case with our fundraiser, and as the PwP team has seen with our own eyes, the charities we support do create meaningful change for the people they help. And that is our goal: Not to help everyone, but to actually make a meaningful, long-term difference for as many people as we can.

In 2014, we will without question put applications from charities who want to help in the Philippines at the top of our list. And as we did after the Haitian earthquake, we will make sure that we look carefully at the situation on the ground to make sure it  is stable enough so that any aid will actually arrive as promised.

If  you would like to make a donation to help in the Philippines immediately, we’ve listed some reputable places where you can do so below. And we hope that you’ll join us to help Mali when our fundraiser kicks off on November 26. Because together, we can all do much to make this world we all love a better place.

Donate to the Philippines:

The Philippine Red Cross

Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development

Doctors Without Borders


Last Minute Instructions

Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments

Wondering what to do next? We’ve got you covered.

Prize Sponsors:


  • Please fill out the Prize Hosting Form with information about you, your blog and the URL for your blog post describing your prize. (No need to publish it yet, just give us the link of your post draft. See tips for PwP blog posts.)
  • If you are a blogger who is donating a prize yourself, we need both a Procurement Form and a Prize Hosting Form for your prize.
  • Don’t have a prize, but want to support PwP by hosting a widget? Here’s where you’ll find it. You can also help spread the word on FacebookTwitter, InstagramPinterest and the hashtag #PwP.


  • Check out the prize catalogue page starting November 25 at 11:59 pm EST to begin making a donation for a chance to win a prize!

See the PwP 2013 Checklist for full upcoming schedule.

Expedia.com Joins Passports with Purpose for the 2nd Year

Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments

Passports with Purpose is excited to welcome back Expedia.com as a platinum sponsor. You know that $115,000 we’re raising for buildOn? Well, Expedia and all our sponsors are giving us a head start by donating to our fundraiser. Here’s Sarah Gavin, their director of public relations and social media, explaining why they joined us for another year:


When we launched the Expedia “Find Yours” campaign in the summer of last year, we had today’s modern traveler in mind. The campaign struck at what we saw as the heart of travel: that each trip is unique and personal, with the power to transform. While we love sitting poolside at a beachfront resort as much as anyone, the travel experience often goes much deeper. And it’s for that reason that we were touched by the work of Passports with Purpose, an amazing organization uniting the online travel community around the common goal of giving back to destinations worldwide.

Last year we sponsored Passports with Purpose as they raised money to build wells in Haiti with Water.org. Not only did they exceed their fundraising goal of $100,000, they raised enough funding to build wells and provide access to clean water in five communities in Haiti!

Brick Laying in Mali

Brick Laying in Mali

So this year we’re again working with Passports with Purpose to make education– another everyday reality for so many of us –more accessible to those in other parts of the world. We’re thrilled to see that the bar has been raised with an initial 2013 goal of $115,000 for buildOn to construct schools in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa. buildOn’s mission is to “break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.” They have mobilized rural villages in the last two decades to help build several hundred schools around the world.

We’ve found ourselves gravitating toward Passports with Purpose not only because of their mission, but because of the profound power they’ve had to rally a very influential set of travel bloggers. It’s a tight-knit and passionate group that we’ve taken notice of and invested in the last couple years, most significantly a few months ago with the launch of the Expedia Viewfinder blog. And as we make the turn for the holidays, we can’t think of a better way or a better group to partner with– all in the name of a more educated, and better traveled world. Won’t you join us?

Bloggers Tell All: Why Participate In PwP 2013

Posted on | November 14, 2013 | 3 Comments

BuildOn MovementIf there’s one thing that proves that travel inspires compassion, it’s that–for five years running–travel bloggers from all over the world have come together to make a BIG difference where it’s most needed.

Why do it? And why keep on doing it? Find out what a few first-time and veteran bloggers have to say about raising money for buildOn to construct primary schools and fund Adult Literacy Programs in the Sikasso Region of Mali, Africa.

Pssst…You want to help, but don’t have a prize yet? It’s not too late. Get in touch, we’re here to help.

Why Participate in PwP 2013?

Nicole Wiltrout, Arrows Sent Forth

I have no doubt I’ll always participate in Passports with Purpose in some way. But this year in particular, I feel so connected to the cause. I’ve been on an incredible journey with my oldest son the past few months. He started school this year and is in the process of learning to read. Watching the way education is transforming him has been so eye-opening. So I love that this year, Passports with Purpose is benefiting buildOn and giving that same gift of education which so many of us take for granted to those who will have their lives changed by it.

Candace Derickx, Life In Pleasantville

I signed up with Passports with Purpose this year after hearing about this great organization at the TMS Family Travel Conference. I’m a big believer in being a gracious traveler and always doing something to help out my host country. I’m excited to take it to the next level though and do something really great with the connections I’ve made as a travel writer. Of all the things I’ve seen and done this past year, the highlight for me will be seeing buildOn receive the full goal amount to build the schools in Mali. So very excited to be participating for the first time…..but not the last!

Amy Moore, Everything Everywhere

For several years I’ve been involved by giving money, but this is the first year I’m participating by hosting a prize.  Watching PwP do such good work, I’m proud to be involved.  Literacy has always been a passion for me, and I’m excited to help affect the lives of the adults and children these schools and programs will serve.  I hope that it starts a chain reaction of good in their community.

Amie O’Shaughnessy, Ciao Bambino

Ciao Bambino wouldn’t miss supporting Passports with Purpose! This annual fundraiser is the one time during the year when the travel blogging community works together for the good of others, not just the good of our blogs and businesses. In our increasingly connected world, it’s seems easier than ever to focus on “the little things” instead of what really matters. Passports with Purpose always supports awe-inspiring projects, from building libraries in Zambia to building an entire village in India. These essentials benefit people who would otherwise live without what we tend to take for granted. This year’s effort, building schools in Mali through buildOn, follows suit. We’re sponsoring two amazing prizes from one of our favorite brands in the entire world this year and can’t wait for the fun to start on November 25th!

Alessandra Granata, I Viaggi Dei Rospi

We are so excited to participate in our first Passports with Purpose, as we’ve really appreciated the work and efforts made by the team in the previous editions. As parents and travel bloggers, we feel so close to this year’s goal about schools and adult literacy programs. Giving people from Mali and all over the world an education, should be mandatory for all of us, as it is exactly what we wish for our kids. Learning is the first step of personal improvement as travel opens your mind and give you a wider base of knowledge. Everyone’s commitment can help to change things for the better. Now, with all our passion we can’t wait to be part of this, we’re “Mali enthusiastic”!

Keryn Means, Walking On Travels.com 

As a mother traveling with her sons across the globe it is important not only for me to give back, but for my sons to give back to those they may come across on our travels. Passports with Purpose continually works with organizations making a meaningful and lasting impact that my family can be proud to be a part of, whether it is building communities, libraries or schools. Each project is something that my boys can relate to in some way. After all, kids just like them live in ever nation, but they may not have the luxuries we take for granted at home. I’m thrilled to partner with PwP for the 3rd year in a row as we help build schools for children in Mali, kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity. My oldest is just starting his education. I’m sure many wonderful conversations will pop up as we chat about the schools we are going to help build with buildOn.

Julie Henning, Wisconsin Parent

This is my second year helping raise funds for Passports with Purpose, but my first time talking about global welfare on WisconsinParent.com. In the Midwest, childhood obesity is a bigger concern than access to clean water and nutritious food. Not to mention, as residents of the United Sates we are entitled to free education and illiteracy among adults hardly is seldom a topic for discussion in the local news. With Black Friday and commercialism about to dictate our shopping habits, this fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity to take a hard look at our first world problems. Donations are tax-deductable and if your employer matches charitable giving, Passports with Purpose can also serve a dual purpose on your 2013 tax return.

Elena Sonnino, Live.Do.Grow

Travel and finding ways to give back are characteristics of being a global citizen- something that I was raised to be as a child and something that I try to foster in my own daughter and other tweens. While you do not need a passport to be a global citizen, you do need to act- to care- to give…in ways big and small. The ability to be part of a community effort like Passports with Purpose brings together some of the most powerful tools to use social media for good: collaboration, purpose, passion and action to raise awareness and funds for buildOn to foster sustainable futures for children in Mali by building schools.  It does not get much better than that as far as global citizenship.

Dana Freeman, Find and Go Seek

This is the first time that I am participating in Passports with a Purpose as a travel blogger, however I have been a supporter of the program for many years. I am so impressed by what this group has been able to do with their fundraising efforts. I am confident that by harnessing the power of the travel writing community to benefit buildOn, we will be able to reach our goal of $115,000 so that new schools will be constructed and adult literacy programs will be funded in Mali.  Becoming involved in this group blogging effort inspires me to do something more with my writing. I am looking forward to the outcome of this year’s campaign.

Vero Autphenne, All Over the Map

When you’re starting out as a blogger, sometimes you wonder whether anyone is listening.

When we started our blog in 2010, we weren’t sure if anyone but our families were reading our posts, or if anyone who was reading was getting anything from them, so participating in the Passports with Purpose fundraiser was a chance for us to put our little voice to work with lots of other bigger voices to create a chorus of good. We loved knowing that the work we were doing was going to benefit that year’s charity directly, and we put everything we had into getting the word out. It felt great to know that we were doing something that would make a real and positive change in the lives of people who had been struggling in Haiti.

We are excited about this year’s chosen charity, buildOn, because we believe wholeheartedly in their mission to build schools and break the cycle of poverty in Mali. I think any of us would do whatever we could to eliminate poverty if only we knew what to do. Well, this is way for us to make a mark. Research shows there would be a 12% drop in global poverty if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills. And buildOn is addressing that directly, by building schools in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world. Even better: enrollment by girls is increasing each year and is now at 43% of the total enrollment.

We are lucky to live our lives confident in knowing that our children have access to quality education. Let’s help make that basic right become a reality for their brothers and sisters in Mali.

What’s Next?


Word. Thanks a million to all you beautiful, magnificent bloggers! It’s a privilege making this magic happen with you.

- Sandra

Photo courtesy of buildOn.

Get Set: 7 Tips for Better Blog Posts

Posted on | November 8, 2013 | 1 Comment

Blogging tools - macbook and iPad.We’re revving up our engines, anxious to hit the road on November 25th when blogger posts go live and Passports with Purpose opens up for donations. Lots of amazing prizes are in the bag, and travel bloggers are now busy crafting posts to highlight what they have lined up.

Prizes were due Nov 6th. 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.

How about you? Are you ready to publish a home run blog post? In the five 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. Do describe PwP and how the fundraiser works. Refer to the FAQs for details. 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, do include a photo of the prize. We will use it in the catalogue, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  3. Point of it All - Let readers know why you’re participating in PwP and tell them about buildOn, the recipient of this year’s goal to raise $115,000 to construct three primary schools and fund three Adult Literacy Programs in the Sikasso Region of Mali, Africa. Logo, images, and video can be found on the buildOn Tool Kit.
  4. Call to Action - Drive readers to bid on prizes. This year, bloggers will be able to add a Donate Now button that will allow people to bid directly from their post. (More on this soon.) Of course, you will also want to urge readers to check out all the incredible prizes that bloggers have contributed to the PwP catalogue.
  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: Expedia (platinum sponsor);  DK Eyewitness Travel—DK Eyewitness Guides and Rough Guides (gold); TBEX (silver sponsor); HomeAway, HostelBookersGo With Oh, and Eating London (bronze sponsors).
  6. Link It Up – When the blog post is ready to publish–plan to finish by November 23rd–submit link to the PwP catalog form by filling out the Prize Hosting Form with information about you, your blog and the URL for your blog post describing your prize.
  7. Post Promotion - Don’t assume that your post will be seen. Share it on your preferred social networks, and add the #PWP hashtag and tag @PassportPurpose and @buildOnEmpowers so we can pass it forward too. 

What’s Next?

  • Psst! Help us get a buzz on. Become a fan of PwP on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and share this site.
  • Get your PwP bling and help out by posting our widget on your blog.
  • November 23: Blog post should be ready to publish — submit link to the PwP catalog form via Prize Hosting Form. 
  • November 25, 11:59PM (EST) Blogger posts go live! PwP opens for donations!
  • See the PwP 2013 Checklist for full upcoming schedule.


We’re counting down to Passports with Purpose 2013

Posted on | November 1, 2013 | No Comments

calendar_November_25That’s right – in just over three weeks we’ll be starting our fundraiser to raise $115,000 to build schools in Mali with buildOn. But before we’re ready for go-time, there are lots of moving parts having to do with bloggers and sponsors and prizes that have to get organized.

We’ve been fielding questions ever day which is great – it means bloggers and sponsors are checking items off the list as part of your own prep for Passports with Purpose. Prizes for the fundraiser should be ready by Wednesday, November 6th. Fill out the procurement form on our site by then.

Here are a few questions we see repeatedly:

  • Is my prize okay? Here are the guidelines. Still not sure? Contact us about it.
  • What kind of coverage will the prize sponsor get?  Sometimes we get media coverage that calls out specific prizes or packages, but we don’t control that. Prizes will be listed in our snazzy new catalogue and on Pinterest, but bloggers should do whatever they can to give  prize sponsors love.
  • I don’t have a prize, got any spares? We’re not sure yet; we’ll know after November 6th. But let us know, and we’ll see about matching you up. And remember – even if you don’t have a prize, you can still help us out by hosting a PwP widget on your site or sharing our fundraiser on your site or social media.
  • I have more than one prize, what do I do? If it’s an aggregation of stuff, for example, a hotel stay plus activities passes, you do need to submit procurement forms for everything that’s part of the prize, but there only needs to be one blog post about it. If it’s actually multiple prizes, publish a separate post for each prize.
  • That procurement form ….? It’s REQUIRED. And it’s here. If the blogger holds the prize, he or she fills it out, if the sponsor has it, they do. But it must be on file for the prize to be listed in our catalog. We will be sending out confirmation emails to bloggers whose prize sponsor has completed the form.
  • Dates? Here are the main dates, if you need a reminder.

We love the prizes that are already coming in; it’s so fun to see the amazing things donors will be able to bid on. We know you’ll feel the same way when it all goes live, and we can’t wait to share it all with you. In the meantime, keep up the great work.

And if you feel like sharing a little love on social media, remember to use the #PWP hashtag and tag @PassportPurpose and @buildOnEmpowers – it’s never to early to start drumming up excitement!

Hottest ticket in town this week: Travel Massive Toronto

Posted on | October 23, 2013 | No Comments

If you are in or nearby Toronto, make sure you RSVP for the Toronto Travel Massive October Meetup featuring Passports with Purpose.

When: Thursday, Oct 24 at 6pm – 9pm (EST)

Where: Windsor Arms Hotel 18 St. Thomas Street – Toronto

RSVP: http://twtvite.com/Oct_PWP

Windsor armsWith just a month left before we kick off our annual fundraiser, join Travel Massive, Expedia.ca and Windsor Arms Hotel for an event to help educate how we, as travelers, can give back to the places we visit.

It will be a fun night of networking, with drinks and apps provided by our friends at the Windsor Arms Hotel. Best of all, come and learn about how you can get involved in Passports with Purpose! Yes, there still is time and yes, there is a way you can get involved.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to win some great prizes provided by Expedia.ca; Windsor Arms Hotel and Canadian Club. All proceeds will go towards funding this year’s Passports with Purpose beneficiary, buildOn.

Thanks to Travel Massive, Windsor Arms and Expedia.ca. And special thanks to Janice Waugh, Solo Traveler, for spearheading this event for us!


logos for TM event




Talking giving back at the TMS Niagara Family Travel Conference

Posted on | October 8, 2013 | 1 Comment

by Mara

TMS Family TravelAlthough Passports with Purpose is a virtual fundraiser, sometimes it’s nice for us to talk to sponsors and bloggers face to face. That’s why we were so happy to be invited to the September 2013 Travel Media Showcase (TMS) Family Travel Conference in Niagara, New York.

I had the honor to speak about Giving and Giving Back in the Family Travel Community with Nancy Schretter of FamilyTravelNetwork.com who spoke about Together For Good and Kit Bernardi of the Society for American Travel Writers (SATW) who discussed SATW’s outreach efforts. It was especially moving to listen to conference organizer Joanne Vero of Travel Media Showcase talk about the SATW Teen Travel Writing award, the winners of which were announced during our panel. The first prize entry about Coney Island was especially close to Joanne’s heart, since she hails from Brooklyn.

I had never visited the American side of Niagara Falls. I’ve heard the argument that the view is better on the Canadian side, but one thing I can tell you is that our neighbors to the north don’t have the Cave of the Winds or Bridal Veil Falls.On the first evening of the conference we were invited to stand pretty much underneath this tremendous force of nature. The steps leading up to the falls were the perfect vantage point from which to watch the fireworks display (which goes off several times a week during the summer and early fall).

Niagara fireworkds

Just another Friday evening in Niagara, NY. Photo courtesy of Dave Parfitt, Adventures by Daddy

And a gorgeous view of Bridal Falls wasn’t the only thing we were treated to – we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Savor, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute’s restaurant; saw amazing balloon animals being created and Native American dancers performing; and toured  Old Fort Niagara by candlelight.

Niagara Falls

I think the U.S. view of Niagara Falls is pretty great – don’t you? Photo courtesy of Dave Parfitt, Adventures by Daddy

Thanks so much to conference organizers Kyle McCarthy of Family Travel Forum, Eileen Ogintz of Taking the Kids, and Joane Vero for letting us share our mission and fundraiser information with the  bloggers and brands in attendance. The conference had numerous sponsors who covered all attendees’ costs (read all about them here) but a special shout out is due to Niagara USA for generously hosting us and showing us just how much fun their neighborhood is.

Want to learn more about the conference and what we saw and did? Check out these posts:

Niagara Falls, NY With Kids from Family Travel Magazine

Showering the Love on Niagara Falls USA – Reasons to Stay in New York from Adventures by Daddy

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