Recently I wrote about VolunteerMatch.org, a social network style website that matches volunteers with opportunities. This week I found another online network in this niche: GoVoluntourism.com. The two sites share several similarities. Both allow organizations and volunteers to register for free, and both have robust information-rich platforms so organizations can thoroughly detail opportunities. GoVoluntourism also offers access to journalists. This is, understandably, very valuable to voluntour businesses hoping for media attention.
One of the things that immediately sets GoVoluntourism apart is their non-profit attitude. They have no fear! They don’t make any money off of the site because they believe in what they’re doing and are content to provide an important service. It might sound crazy—everyone needs to make money—but when your business is designed to facilitate relationships based on free labor, it would be inconsistent to charge for the service. Still, that doesn’t stop other similar platforms from charging for listings. True, most of these charges fall on the organizations, not on the volunteers. But when many of these organizations are non-profits, charging them money takes resources directly from their projects.
I am always attracted to organizations that practice what they preach. In other words, I pay attention when a mission statement reflects a company’s policy. I respect GoVoluntourism for making their service free and accessible. And they respect themselves: it is their mission to facilitate, not to hinder. Of course, any good sustainable project needs funding. GoVoluntourism is actively working on funding themselves through partnerships so they can continue offering their service for free. In the meantime I imagine they must be maxing out their credit cards to keep the project going.
This site is more like a classified listing than it is like a social network. Volunteers share their experience, expertise, and interests, and organizations share information about their missions, projects, and fees. Volunteers can find organizations and apply for available positions, or organizations can approach volunteers that they feel match up with their needs. There is no site oversight or vetting: like Craigslist, screening potential volunteers is the responsibility of the user, not the platform.
I am also drawn to this site because they use the word “empathy” in their materials. I’m kind of a sucker for this word. I believe, when it comes to building a better world, empathy is the most important trait to cultivate. Empathy is what inspires us to help others. It is what motivates us to leave our homes, to venture out, and to give of our time and emotional energy. Empathy is the driving force behind the volunteer movement and it’s inspiring to see it recognized.