Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Steve and Joanie Wynn traveled to Tanzania. They were there to make a documentary about Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy, an organization working to refurbish classrooms at the Bibi Jann School for AIDS orphans. The Wynns were already world travelers, but this trip was special. It showed them the power of sweat equity to make a positive difference, and to connect people to each other in meaningful ways. The Wynns wanted to do more to help so they founded this site, Journeys For Good, to spread the message of volunteer travel, and to help inspire others.
Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy (RAP) is a unique organization in several respects. It’s not a non-profit, but it works closely with non-profits to find sustainable, meaningful projects all over the world. From a business perspective, RAP has managed to bridge the gap between the travel industry and the non-profit world of humanitarian aid. They are a for-profit organization with a social mission, a rare bird indeed.
RAP trips are focused on adventure (it’s in the name!) They aren’t tours or vacations, they are exciting trips designed to inspire the traveler with volunteer projects that make an appreciable difference in a short amount of time. RAP welcomes volunteers who do not normally travel in groups. They aren’t looking for tourists, they are looking for people who want a challenge, and who want a deep and meaningful experience.
RAP interviews new volunteers so they can match up like-minded people. This means that many of their volunteers end up making lasting friendships. In all of the research I’ve done on volunteer organizations, this is the first time I’ve found one that focuses on group dynamics. It’s surprising, since traveling is such an intimate thing, that organizations wouldn’t work harder to curate the personalities in the group. On the other hand, this kind of attention takes time and effort, and many companies simply don’t have the resources. Perhaps that is another benefit of traveling with a for-profit organization: they care deeply about their traveler’s satisfaction and have the staff to focus on this kind of pre-trip organization and planning.
RAP welcomes families. Their only stipulation is that their volunteers be reasonably physically healthy and fit. They also plan custom trips for travelers with scheduling problems. RAP is partnered with a variety of established non-profit organizations including: Creative Solutions, Voluntario Global, The Catalyst Foundation, Awamaki, The Fabretto Children’s Foundation, Goods for Good, The Livingstone Tanzania Trust, The East Meets West Foundation, The Bibi Jann Children’s Care Trust, Worldwide Orphans Foundation, and The Omprakash Foundation.