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How to be a philanthropic traveller

How to be a philanthropic traveller

As proponents of responsible tourism, we endeavour to support what we call the four Ps of sustainability: people, profit, place and philanthropy. We put in place tours that connect you with local people, in locations where tourism is a vital source of income to local communities. If you want to be a philanthropic traveller, however, sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper, not just into your pockets but also with your research, to find out which charities are really worth supporting in the destination you have chosen to visit. 

Often these local changemakers are only visible on social media, so you have to get creative with your searching. You may even discover that they are running an event when you are planning to travel, so that as well as donating money to their important causes, you also get to share your time with people on the ground who are making a difference. In addition to donating time or money, please also remember to follow and share posts of these charities on social media, because although donating is paramount, sharing is also caring. Here are just a few of our recommended organisations to get you thinking and, ideally, donating. 

Going the extra mile in Morocco

While travelling in Morocco, there are many ways to support local communities, especially within the Berber communities of the Atlas Mountains where many of our trips take place. One of the most impressive changemakers is Education for All, a charity that has funded five boarding houses for Berber girls from remote communities. Until these schools existed, many of these girls didn’t have an opportunity to go on to secondary education or university, and these schools have transformed this situation. They were particularly badly hit by the 2023 earthquake and have done Trojan work to keep their girls in school. The region’s High Atlas Foundation is also an important fundraiser post-earthquake, with a multi-year strategy to work with communities in need of repair and recovery. 

For animal lovers, take a look at the work of international organisation SPANA, which strives to protect the working animals of the world, especially horses, donkeys and mules in Morocco. Committed to protecting working animals for over a century, they run training sessions and health checks and have an impressive influence in Morocco and around the world. Watch SPANA’s excellent video here.

Our in-house writer, Catherine Mack, visits one of the Education for All schools in Asni, in the Atlas Mountains.

A fiver for flora and fauna in Scotland

From badgers to basking sharks, puffins to peregrine falcons, Scotland is teeming with flora and fauna. Consequently, it boasts some impressive conservationist and nature organisations, which are also fonts of information. One of the best resources is Scottish Wildlife Trust which not only lists its species, but also manages 120 wildlife reserves around the country. They strive to protect the precious habitats that you might take for granted on a walking holiday, but please do support their vital work by donating to the cause

If you’re walking the Great Glen Way, for example, you get to explore great swathes of Scottish landscapes. Over the years, however, the Great Glen Way has been forested and deforested. Although the valley is still rich in forest, there is an impressive movement of local forest conservation experts to rewild the whole area. Led by Trees for Life, the mission is to create one of Scotland’s largest areas of montane woodland by producing native seeds such as aspen on site and then scattering them strategically for quick and natural spread. So you can plant a seed or two with a coin or two. 

Boost Bulgaria’s natural coffers 

Rewilding Europe is an excellent organisation lobbying and acting to protect Europe’s most biodiverse land and waterscapes. It has earmarked Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains for preservation and restoration because of its precious and pristine habitats. These are home not only to birds, but also bears, wolves and jackals and Bulgaria is at a key point on the map of biodiversity in Europe for creating dynamic wildlife corridors. Most recently, they reintroduced 14 black vultures, Europe’s largest raptor, with the hope that they will breed in the region once more, having disappeared as a breeding species since 1993. You can donate to their vital work in these regions where they keep much more than an eagle eye on things. 

Another excellent local birding organisation to support is the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), which is also a nest of knowledge on species and locations. And last but not least, the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Centre in Stara Zagora is the only rescue facility for injured wildlife in the country, and well worth a few notes being sent their way. They care for over 600 wild animals a year, with many of them being released back into the wild after their care. 

Bring your binoculars to Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains to see the likes of this golden eagle. And bring a few notes too, to support the charities that protect them.

Inspiring Irish naturalists

Ireland is very committed to protecting its flora and fauna, and building biodiversity. To read up more about or donate to leading conservation organisations, see the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust. If you enjoy hiking through the blanket bogs of the Wicklow Way, or birding on the Beara Peninsula, for example, you may want to consider donating to their causes. 

Nepal needs you

In a country where the mountains are beyond moving, you may also be moved to donate to some forces for good there. Such as the Nepal Red Cross Society, which is affiliated to the International Federation of Red Cross, and has been a vital line of support not only for still ongoing rebuilding after the 2015 earthquake but also after the COVID19 pandemic, as Nepal was badly hit by both. The Himalayan Trust is another excellent charity, inspired by Sir Edmund HIllary’s ethos of supporting Nepal’s mountain people. 

The Himalayan Trust is inspired by Sir Edmund HIllary’s ethos of supporting Nepal’s mountain people who share so much with us.

Give a buck for the bears

Romania’s wild landscapes are now recognised by international conservation organisations, such as the WWF, as hugely important habitats. It is home to over 6,000 brown bears, 4,000 wolves and 2,000 Eurasian lynx, as well as a bevy of birdlife, including golden eagles and Ural owls which you can see soaring above the limestone ridges and gorges while hiking in Romania. You are unlikely to see the mountains’ mammals, however, wolves and lynx being very elusive. As well as a donation to the WWF, another important local conservation organisation is, which has been striving to protect and restore forests, habitats, and species in the Carpathian Mountains since 2009. They will always welcome donations to their work. 

Cough up for conservation of sea turtles

One of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Greece is spending time on a sea turtle beach during nesting season, between June and early August, with eggs hatching two months later. The Ionian Islands are important breeding sites for endangered loggerhead turtles, and designated nesting beaches include Argostoli on Kefalonia, or you can visit the island’s Turtle Centre at Katelios. Always adhere to leading conservationists Archelon’s turtle watching rules and do please consider donating to their cause. 

A loggerhead turtle in Kefalonia. Sometimes we need to look carefully to find what charities we can help locally when travelling.

Protect Poland’s wildlife

Rewilding Europe is striving to protect the Oder Delta in Poland because, in 2016, the Polish government announced plans to develop the Oder, Vistula and Bug rivers so that they could cater for larger vessels. Not surprisingly, this could have devastating effects on wildlife. Read up on Rewilding Europe’s website and, if you’ve enjoyed walking in Poland, please donate to their vital work to protect nature’s ways. 

Give some Sterling for sterling work 

If you’re enjoying any part of England’s coast, such as the Coast to Coast Path, or the South West Coast Path, then you may come across the work of Surfers against Sewage. They have campaigned for clean oceans for over thirty years and have been extremely prolific and influential over the last few years, as England, and other parts of Great Britain, have been suffering from sewage discharge issues. As major campaigners, educators and influencers, they are a charity really worth supporting in our view, and you can also join one of the well-known beach cleans. In addition, they have an excellent app, Safer Seas and Rivers Service, which gives daily pollution warnings across the UK’s coasts and rivers. This is a free app, and so that alone is worth donating towards. 

Elsewhere, two other leading conservationist organisations to support are the John Muir Trust and the Lake District Foundation, both of which aren’t as well known as some of the big national charities, but they do wild and wonderful work in England and other parts of the UK. We also value the work of the Family Holiday Charity, which provides a much needed break for families who are in need of a break and aren’t financially able to take one. 

Surfers against Sewage is one of the UK’s most prolific charities in keeping its coasts and rivers clean.

Unite for Ukraine 

In April 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, we launched the Support Local Communities Initiative, which enabled clients to donate to a variety of local communities through a chosen charity that focused on social enterprises, education, conservation and conflict mitigation. In February 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, we decided to redirect all donations to support our friends in need during these horrific times. We shall continue to direct funds for as long as we need to, standing in solidarity with Ukrainian communities. We also continue to offer a way for you to support them by buying a virtual tour of their beloved Carpathians, or else by donating directly to our chosen charity there. 

For more blogs on how to up your game as a responsible traveller, you may enjoy the following: Hiking tips for mountain landscapes; Conscious consumption on your travels; Everything you need to know about travelling during Ramadan; Tipping around the world and Responsible travel tips.