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For two weeks every year around Thanksgiving, travel bloggers come together to raise funds for Passports with Purpose (PwP). The organization was founded in 2008 by a small group of female travel bloggers who donate the collected funds to vetted non-profits working in communities worldwide.
In 2008, the first PwP campaign raised $15,000 for the agricultural organization, Heifer International. Last year, bloggers raised $115,000 in partnership with Matt Damon’s Water.org to build five wells in Haiti. This year through December 9, PwP is looking to surpass that to fund three literacy programs in Mali in partnership with buildOn.
Here’s how it works. Travel bloggers reach out to their networks of hotels, tour operators and travel industry vendors with a request for complimentary room nights, travel packages and free gear. These are then posted on the PwP prize catalogue webpage where the public can pay $10 for a bid that enters them in a drawing for that prize.
Once the event is live, the participating bloggers then promote their specific prizes on their blogs to help drive traffic to the PwP website.
“Passports With Purpose has been repeatedly successful because the travel blogging community steps up again and again to make it successful,” says Mara Gorman, a PwP board member who publishes the Mother of all Trips travel blog. “We’re able to tap into a deep impulse among this diverse group who want to improve the world. Without the breadth of their network and their commitment to the various causes we’ve supported, we wouldn’t be able to raise large sums of money in $10 increments.”
Also supporting this year’s Passports with Purpose campaign, sponsors include Expedia, Rough Guides, Travel Bloggers Exchange, Eyewitness Travel, Collette Vacations, HomeAway, GowithOh, Hostelbookers and Eating London Food Tours.
We asked Gorman what the ROI is for sponsors.
“Our sponsors support us because they know that we carefully vet the charities we work with; because we choose projects that deliver tangible results that we and they can see and verify; and because of the reach of our collective network,” she explains. “I think the ROI for sponsors is the connection to a genuine grassroots effort to do good.”
Sarah Gavin, director of PR for Expedia, sums up the sponsor viewpoint: “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…. As we make the turn for the holidays, we can’t think of a better way or a better group to partner with.”
Greg Oates covers hospitality trends and next generation hotels. He has participated in 1,000+ hotel site inspections in over 50 countries.