A hotel booking to fund charity? Let’s Wander

The following post is a part of a sponsored collaboration between Wander (wander.io) and the Ethical Writers & Creatives coalition that I am a member of. I received payment in exchange for this review. This helps to support my activism and the costs of running this blog. I only partner with organisations uphold the values and ethos of this blog and that I think you would appreciate hearing about. My thanks to Wander for supporting independent activist media. 

I have a long career working in the not-for-profit and social impacts sectors. We are currently living in a time of huge change for these sectors. Charity funding sources are under pressure. Many governments are moving towards, or already under, austerity measures, and reliable consistent funding for everything from poverty alleviation, medical humanitarian work, to domestic violence shelters and homelessness programs is fast drying up. But times of huge shifts like this, also provide opportunity for innovation and creativity.

Indeed, we are seeing a huge number of creative entrepreneurial solutions to create new sources of funding for charities. These are social enterprises- businesses that generate revenue to fund a social or environmental cause. As a social entrepreneur myself, I delight in uncovering and partnering with social enterprises, such as Wander, to highlight the important work that they are doing, providing opportunities for normal life purchases to contribute to a greater social cause.

Before I go on to tell you about Wander, and what they do, I just want to say a few words about why these funding sources for charities are important. With the rise of social enterprise and fair trade models of business, people often ask whether we need charity anymore. Couldn’t we just solve charity with market-based solutions? The answer is complicated, but fundamentally there is an important place for both. Charities are very good at doing specialised social change work or environmental advocacy, often on a very small budget. They are the technical experts in doing what they do. They are often so stretched in using funds to meet the vast need of the communities they serve, that they do not have the bandwidth to think about creative funding solutions. Nor the entrepreneurial skills. Similarly, entrepreneurs rarely have the expertise needed to address complex social and environmental challenges on the ground. They often need the technical expertise of the charities in order to make the positive impact that they desire. A well-meaning but ill-informed do gooder can do a great deal of damage in a community, and it is not uncommon for poorly designed projects to do more damage than good.

So while there will be effective market solutions to many challenges, often a partnership between a socially-minded entrepreneur and effective grassroots charities is what is required to really make a change. This is where founder Clementine Oliveras and Wander.

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Wander (wander.io) is a hotel booking site that enables you to make a contribution to charity with every hotel booking. At wander.io you can search from over 250,000+ hotels in 47,000+ locations across the globe. They partner with five internally recognised charities, across five different areas of impact-  children, development, empower, planet, and humanitarian- and each time you make a booking you can choose which charities you want to support. The price is the same for you, whether you use Wander or another mainstream travel booking site.

Wander really do make it simple and easy to book your next hotel, and make and impact at the same time. I booked my current holiday with Wander (this was not part of our collaboration and I was not paid to do this, but I chose to do so) and I couldn’t be happier with the hotel and the process.

According to Wander, the average American business traveller could bring sustainable electric light to two families in Ecuador with their yearly travel, if booked through Wander. While the average leisure traveller in the US could help provide 40 children with vitamins for a year, if they booked their holidays through Wander.

I though you might be interested to hear a bit from Clementine, founder of Wander. Here is what she had to say about her work and her motivations:

In your words, what makes Wander different to other travel sites?  

Wander has as part of its business DNA giving back, helping people in need and the world we live in.  We are helping different good causes through our partner organisations with each reservation we receive.

 How do you decide which causes and NGOs you will support? 

There are lots of causes we would love to help, but we decided to start with a few to try and have a bigger impact as we launched Wander, we decided to support the causes we felt closest to our hearts.  Once we decided what causes we wanted to support we started doing research on what were the organisations that had the biggest positive impact on the fields they were worked on.  We chose organisations that were transparent with their financials, their administrations costs were low and there work made a difference in the areas they supported.
Do you have a vetting process for the hotels you collaborate with? How do you ensure that these destination match up to the ethics of your mission?

We try to promote hotels that have sustainable practices and these are the hotels we promote on our site.  However we have over 250,000 hotels and not all of them have sustainability as their main objective.  We are currently working on setting up a filter in the platform that will enable our users to search for hotels that follow environmental and sustainable guidelines.
Could you tell me a little more about you, and why you were driven to create Wander?  I have two passions travelling and giving back.  

I was born and raised in Mexico City and growing up in such a diverse city I saw firsthand the economic inequalities that exist in developing countries.  After finishing school I had the chance to work in a non for profit organisation doing work on the Sierra Tarahumara.  I saw the rough conditions people lived in this area.  I realised these communities have great traditions and live in beautiful landscapes yet they live in substandard conditions.  I noticed an opportunity existed to help these communities through sustainable tourism projects.  Building projects that would protect local communities and the environment they live in.  I went on to write my bachelor’s degree dissertation project on building a sustainable lodge and the benefits this would create in this area in the North of Mexico.  I later studied a Master’s degree on Sustainable tourism and a few years later I had the opportunity to put these skills into action when I was able to build and operate a hotel in Playa del Carmen.

After 6 years operating this hotel and learning lots of things on the operation and tourism sales, we sold the hotel and I felt a strong desire to get involved in something that would help the world we live in.  First I thought I would love to help kids and build a orphanage but my background in Economics kicked in and thought that always relying on donations to operate and orphanage would not be ideal.  I thought the best way to help would be to create a self sustaining business where its growth would bring more opportunities to reach people.  That is how we came up with Wander a business were we could help the world we live in doing what we love!

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I really enjoyed collaborating with Clementine to bring you this post. These innovative solutions to funding vital social change work are so important.

It has never been easier to make positive change with your normal lifestyle purchases. Next time you plan to travel, why not Wander?

 

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Photo By: Photo credit: wander.io