IMPACT 2030: Te invitamos a los Foros de Liderazgo!

IMPACT 2030 es la única coalición del sector privado en colaboración con las Naciones Unidas, los sectores públicos, sociales y académico, que se alinea inversiones de capital humano a través del voluntariado corporativo al servicio de la agenda de desarrollo sostenible.

Este noviembre, los socios fundadores Google y Realized Worth facilitará dos Foros de Liderazgo en Brasil y Argentina para discutir IMPACT 2030 y cómo las empresas y organizaciones pueden involucrarse.

Escuchen a Sabrina Viva, Director de Gestión de Cuenta e Iniciativas de América Latina en Realized Worth para todos los detalles.

Si usted o su representante local en América Latina está interesado en asistir, por favor confirme su asistencia aquí mailto: y le enviaremos todos los detalles.

Sabrina Viva
Director of Account Management &
Latin American Initiatives
Follow Sabrina on Twitter 
Connect with Sabrina on LinkedIn

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Join Us to Learn Why Volunteering Works (According to Science)

Realized Worth co-founders Chris Jarvis and Angela Parker are pleased to announce their facilitation of three sessions at bbcon 2016 this October! These sessions will focus on the science behind why volunteering works, and will include advice for achieving the practical execution of successful employee volunteer programs. We have high hopes that the information we provide will be relevant, useful, and – of course – entertaining. If you’re planning to be there, but can’t join our session, please send us a note. We’d love to get together for a coffee or catch up in the hallways!


By Angela Parker and Chris Jarvis

What is bbcon?

“bbcon is the premier industry event for anyone involved in the social good movement. Hosted by Blackbaud, the conference brings together thousands of fundraisers, philanthropists, educators, and industry thought leaders to discuss current trends, best practices, and outcome-based solutions that help advance the social good movement. Whether you’re a nonprofit, individual fundraiser, corporation, foundation, or educational institution, the conference offers unparalleled learning experience and innovative technology insights that will fuel your passion and guide your fundraising strategies to help you make greater impact for your organization and its mission. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to have fun along the way!”

Why should you attend?

“bbcon 2016 will include insight from some of the industry’s best and brightest minds. Join us just outside D.C. this October for:

  • Impactful thinking across 200 expert-led sessions – many of which qualify for CPE and CFRE credits
  • Opportunity to participate in conversations around major, high-level themes influencing the industry
  • Innovative technology that’s already changing fundraising as we know it
  • Fresh, new content exclusively for nonprofit marketing professionals
  • Lasting connections with 3,000 of the industry’s best, brightest, and most passionate”

The Realized Worth Sessions

What Compels Us to Give: The Neuroscience Behind Doing Good
Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 10:30AM – Noon
What really compels our actions? What happens in our brains (and bodies) when we do good or see others doing good? Join this session to learn about the neuroscience behind doing good. You’ll find out what drives us to give and the impact those actions have on our lives.

Going Beyond Strategy to Execution: A Conversation with Realized Worth and Blackbaud
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 9:15 – 10:30AM
Ready to execute your strategic giving and engagement programs? In this session, Realized Worth will provide best practices for implementing a successful giving and engagement program. Plus, hear about Blackbaud’s global giving and engagement program, challenges and success in its execution, and how we’re taking our own programs to the next level.

Building a Strategic, Global Corporate Giving and Engagement Program
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 10:30 – 11:45AM
How do you enhance economic, social, and cultural well-being while holding true to your program’s core values? Place an embargo on siloed efforts that don’t support the greater good of your corporate social responsibility program. In this session, learn how to build a strategic plan to expand the global reach of your program.

Check out the session list to take a look at additional relevant and informative topics you may want to attend. We look forward to hearing from friends such as:

See you there!

Realized Worth is a global consulting firm that works with companies to design and implement employee volunteer programs. We focus on equipping individuals to lead programs in a scalable way, achieving impact for the company, the community, and the employee.Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Email us directly at, or find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Employee Volunteering Down Under

While guest lecturing for my friend’s entrepreneurship course at Purdue University, a student asked me, “As a global company, do you run into cultural barriers when working with companies in different parts of the world?”

It’s a good question. In Germany, we’ve learned to avoid making jokes about German culture during business meetings (oops). In Asia, we’ve learned to respect titles and take business cards seriously. In eastern Europe, we’ve learned to use vocabulary words other than volunteering in order to avoid any association with Stalin’s forced “volunteer Saturdays” from the Communist era. We’ve learned that it’s two kisses in France and Spain, in the Netherlands it’s three, and in the UK … well, I’ve never quite figured out what the rules are in the UK. We learn by trial and error, by research, and mostly by gentle guidance from our global friends.

But what about Australia?


By Angela Parker

In August 2016, Realized Worth co-founder Chris Jarvis and I traveled to several major cities across Australia to provide workshops for companies and nonprofits interested in employee volunteering. These workshops were initiated by Volunteering Western Australia and hosted by the country’s other “peak bodies” 1 including Volunteering SA&NT, Centre for Volunteering (NSW), Volunteering Victoria, Volunteering Queensland, and Volunteering ACT in Canberra.

Australia’s Lessons for the Rest of Us

First of all, it’s one kiss. (And the Sydney Herald published some strong opinions about it!) Second, this country knows how to host a guest and Realized Worth could not be more grateful for the incredibly warm welcome, eagerness to learn, and willingness to teach.

  • Don’t be the US, but don’t be Canada either.

Apologies for the stereotypes I am about to perpetuate, but here goes: the US is perceived to be a culture that will do whatever it takes to be first to market. Fail first, fail forward, go big, be loud, don’t miss out. There are clearly pros and cons to this approach. Canada, on the other hand, is perceived as an incredibly cautious market that requires multiple proofs of concept before taking the next step. This approach also has its pros and cons. But which is better?

  • Be Australia.

In terms of corporate programs, Australian companies seem to have discovered a reasonable middle ground. Evidenced by the strong attendance at the workshop series, companies are eager to learn about innovative, global practices. They’re inquisitive about what works and why. Rather than diving headlong into the most recent “best” practice, they weigh the options and take conscious steps forward into ideas that are likely to succeed as well as push past the boundaries of what’s been done before.

Want some examples of companies in Australia doing great work? Check out Bankwest, Atlassian, Woodside, Deloitte Australia, and Alcoa. We heard incredible stories and saw great work coming from the men and women leading the charge at these organizations.

  • Coordinate efforts

Earlier, I described Australia’s “peak bodies” as being similar to United Way here in the US, with autonomous expressions of the main organization in strategic locations across the country.  The incredible thing about Volunteering Australia is the collaboration and coordination that takes place between the peak bodies.

While Volunteering WA initiated the workshop series and informed each state of the opportunity, they let the peak bodies choose how to advertise and hold an event in a way that made sense for their area. Because of this coordination, companies and organizations were able to send their employees in each state to the workshops and receive the benefit of similar training and the resulting shared language.

The peak bodies also meet on conference calls regularly to share updates, ideas, and innovative practices. Together, the whole of Volunteering Australia is working together to move their country forward effectively. As a US citizen, I admire this willingness to share and make progress together as opposed to competing and holding each other back.

  • Know your own challenges and opportunities

Check out this report, State of Volunteering in Australia, published by Volunteer Australia and sponsored by PwC to learn more about the challenges and opportunities Australian companies face when it comes to volunteering.

In comparison to organizations in the US, Volunteering Australia may seem tiny, but they are mighty in their efforts to spread awareness of the challenges the country faces in order to innovate toward solutions. The studies and research coming out of Australia related to volunteerism is strong. In fact, Realized Worth has been reading the country’s reports since 2008! The simple commitment to an honest assessment of the current situation is positioning Australia to take over leadership in the field of employee volunteering in the next 5-8 years.

  • Adopt a humble posture

Maybe it’s a stretch to offer this observation as learning, but there’s a practice in Australia that demonstrated a meaningful posture of humility. It allowed me to believe without hesitation in the authenticity of employee volunteerism efforts around the country. It is the formal acknowledgment of the original owners of the land – the aboriginal people – whose presence and history in Australia remains a complicated one.

Before every formal meeting or presentation, the host begins by saying: “I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land… They then name the local Aboriginal tribe and pay respects to the elders. It’s a little different each time. Here’s how it sounded at a workshop in Canberra:

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which we are meeting, the Ngunnawal people, and pay respect to the Elders of the Ngunnawal Nation both past and present. I extend this respect to all Aboriginal peoples in attendance today. 

It’s expected. It’s heard silently and respectfully by everyone in attendance. It’s always a little emotional, at least for me. Perhaps for some this ritual carries other meanings that are not particularly positive. Perhaps there are issues that deserve greater acknowledgment than simply the history of who once lived on the land. My guess is that this ritual represents one small step toward major work that has yet to be done. And that’s okay. It’s reality we’ve signed up for, not false optimism. Beauty and ugliness walk hand in hand.

Want to learn more about the great work of Volunteering Australia and the peak bodies? You can find more information as well as contact information for each organization here.

 Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
Follow Angela on Twitter
Connect with Angela on LinkedIn


  1. An association of organizations – similar to United Way in the US
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J.K. Rowling and the Villainous Voluntourist

We recently shared an article on our Facebook page regarding “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and her thoughts, at least regarding this specific case, on voluntourism. You can read it for yourself here, but summed up, she explains in no uncertain terms that her organization, Lumos, does not support voluntourism.

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The thoughts below are of course, just that. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent that of Realized Worth, but we do believe this kind of discourse is important.



Corey Diamond: Interesting rant. Thoughts?



Katie Jarvis: I appreciate that she addressed the darker side of voluntourism (that these companies often exploit those they proclaim to help). But when I went on what was essentially a voluntourism trip, we were asked: Why would you spend that money just to come meet us? These men and women spent most of their lives feeling not just unwanted, but less than human. So I’d argue there is merit in showing up and giving your time and your attention to people, especially when you’re working with a marginalized group, even if it’s just so they can feel their own worth.

sabrinaiconSabrina Viva
: Wow. I have very strong feelings about this. On one hand, I agree with her about institutionalized orphanages. The aim should always be to reunite children with their families and to address the real systemic issues that allow for so many children to become orphans in the first place.

On the other hand, not all orphanages are state run institutions. I have had a first hand experience volunteering with an orphanage in Costa Rica that was run by an elderly couple. The state paid for two children, but they had 33 at the time. The countless volunteers I saw there were dedicated to supporting these children through education, music, art, and physical activity programs, to which they would otherwise not have access. In my case, I went on to do the shoebox campaign for 5 years after my trip. And while that didn’t solve any systemic issues in Costa Rica, I would like to believe that it gave them some hope and courage to push forward another day.

Sabrina has more to say on this …

christineiconChristine Foster: I can completely see the argument you are making, but I also had an experience with voluntourism in Ghana and it singlehandedly made me swear off volunteering for a long time. I was stalling the education of the children I was responsible for and was taking away a job opportunity from a local person who could have benefited from employment.

I don’t disagree with the stipulation that the experience of the volunteer is important and can lead to individual transformation and increased volunteerism in that individual’s life. However, if the volunteer experience is at the expense of the beneficiary (which it can be depending on the activity/organization), then in my opinion the potential good it creates is displaced by the harm it does. And if the volunteer realizes this and their contribution to something other than good, it can result in a negatively positioned thin space/transformation that can dissuade a potential lifelong contributing volunteer from volunteering again.

As stated in our previous conversation, I think the organization and the volunteer opportunity itself is vital to evaluating whether “voluntourism” is helpful or harmful to our global society, both for beneficiaries and well-meaning volunteers.


: Couldn’t we argue the same thing about the hundreds of volunteer opportunities that are available in our own backyards?


christineiconCF: Absolutely! That’s why finding good partner organizations for corporate volunteering opportunities is so important for companies. They can either encourage or discourage volunteerism amongst employees based on the community and individual impact(s) of their volunteerism – locally or abroad.

I think we are on the same side – wanting equally good experiences for the beneficiary and the volunteer.


KJ: So where does that leave us? If volunteering can be harmful abroad and at home, is voluntourism the problem? Or is the real issue false information from organizations and a lack of research by would-be volunteers?


sabrinaiconSV: To your previous point, Christine, many nonprofits have limited (if any) funding and resources. Although their intentions to create a great volunteer experience for all volunteers is probably true, the reality is that they just can’t and/or don’t know how to do this.

This is where voluntourism and our field of corporate volunteering can play a larger role, sharing expertise through volunteering … skills-based, or even something many view as menial: virtual volunteering.

The good news in all of this is that there is a lot of room to improve the capabilities and knowledge of nonprofits, just as we currently do with corporations. We have an important role to educate and foster these important cross-sector partnerships so that they can grow and provide impactful, sustainable programs in our communities.

: I never said voluntourism is a problem. Nor did I say that one experience represents all experiences. Just simply that it can be [a problem]. Voluntourism becomes problematic when the activity or organization is doing more harm than good to the beneficiary (and especially when the volunteer themselves realize this and realize they are contributing to the harm). Unfortunately, there are many well documented cases of this around the world – which is why the word itself tends to have a negative connotation.

I think it is on the volunteers themselves (and in corporate volunteering cases – on the companies themselves) to ensure that the nonprofits with which they are partnering/volunteering:

a.) do more good than harm in the community they are claiming to service, and;

b.) the activity of the volunteer contributes good (or at the very least does not harm the population). There are many great examples out there – like yours, Sabrina! Sure, this might take some more work/research up front, but it’s better than the alternative.

Nonprofits can have limited resources and still do no harm. It’s about knowing who you choose to partner with to ensure that the impact of volunteering with them on the community, company and individual are positive rather than negative.

I agree with you Sabrina, there is also an opportunity to foster cross-sector collaboration to ensure outcomes are positive and sustainable in the communities we are trying to impact.


SV: Yes, I agree with you. This is where the hard work comes in. It’s nice to be part of the solution.


angiconAngela Parker
: Going back to Katie’s question (If volunteering can be harmful abroad and at home, is voluntourism the problem? Or is the real issue false information from organizations and a lack of research by would be volunteers?), I think it would be beneficial to define the problem – or at least parse out the issues. Here’s what I came up with:

Issue #1: The term “voluntourism.”

To me, this term feels negative. It starts the conversation with the assumption that volunteers are traveling to do volunteer work for their own pleasure – and that that’s inherently a bad thing. But is it not a similar scenario to a family deciding to serve food at a homeless shelter together at Christmas rather than eat a big meal at home? Shelters are overrun by volunteers at Christmas. They need people to serve meals the rest of the year and not just during the holidays. Isn’t this family being selfish? Serving for their own pleasure? Somehow we don’t see it that way. We see it as an admirable way that some families choose to adjust their posture at Christmastime and potentially change the longterm perspectives of their children who otherwise might forget that privilege is not afforded to everyone. In this sense, serving for our own pleasure is potentially life-changing.

Issue #2: The organizations.

Some NGOs and nonprofit organizations work with vulnerable populations who need to be protected from inexperienced or insensitive volunteers. At Realized Worth, we support the position that men, women, children, and animals who have been abandoned or abused or who are in otherwise vulnerable circumstances need consistent, committed, trained, and sensitive support in their lives. It is not appropriate to parade tourists through the lives of the vulnerable.

Christine provided two points to avoid this scenario:

… It is (the responsibility of) the volunteer themselves to ensure that the nonprofits they are partnering/volunteering with:
a.) does more good than harm in the community they are claiming to service, and;
b.) the activity of the volunteer contributes good (or at least does not harm the population)

Issue #3: The volunteers.

Voluntourists are often looking for an experience. Rather than just traveling for fun, they want to be immersed in the challenges facing societies. They want to go past the facades of restaurants and shops and be affected by the “real real.” The type of volunteering they find in “their own back yard” often does not promise to provide an experience. Unfortunately, this desire for an experience is sometimes seen as morally wrong – even though it’s a universally human phenomenon. But, to quote Joe Pine, “there is no such thing as an inauthentic experience. Why? Because the experience happens inside of us.”

I think volunteers and organizations (including companies!) can come together to provide the experience voluntourists are seeking. I think we can embrace the human desire to become immersed and changed. We can welcome “tourists” and be their gateway to longterm positive changes in their beliefs and behaviors. And most importantly, we can do this in a way that protects the vulnerable.

diconDainéal Parker: I agree that volunteers and organizations can come together to provide experiences for voluntourists, but for me, the question is: should they? Do we need to bother with vacationers with western savior complexes and their need to feel like they contributed?

My argument against voluntourism is very specific. And while the experience I mention below was incredible and I treasure the memory, I’m going to dispense with feelings and sentiment and consider the numbers.

In 2007, 3 other adults and I took 14 high schoolers to South Africa to participate in some AIDS relief programs. It cost $2700 per person, most of which was eaten up by travel expenses.

$2700/person + 18 persons = $48,600. Couple this with $300 or so of walking around money everyone brought, and you end up with another $5400, giving the entire excursion a budget of around $54,000.

Now, let me tell you about our accomplishments:

  • We painted a gymnasium (very RW, right?)
  • We built an in-ground trampoline
  • We packaged about 100 or so bags of food that could feed a family of 4 for weeks
  • We visited orphanages and spent time with the children there (though it is debatable what this accomplished)

I wonder how much it would cost to hire some local, cheap labor to paint a gym. Let’s say it takes 4 painters 8 hours to get the job done at $20/hour per worker. $640.

Let’s get those same workers to dig a hole for the trampoline, which they can do in half the time. $320.

When Chris, Corey, and I volunteered with AT&T at a food bank here in LA, there were probably a hundred high schoolers competing to see who could pack the most boxes full of food. I’m sure the organization I worked with in SA could round up some privileged folk from Cape Town High that would have done exactly what we did that day (and could probably have gotten a bunch of return volunteers that needed no training). Free.

As for visiting orphanages, well … sure, it’s special for the kids. They feel better for a moment. It’s important to keep them feeling loved and stimulated by new visitors with strange physical features (they were fascinated by my tattoos). But at the end of the day, we were sleeping in comfortable beds while they were still orphans in an orphanage. Depressing thought, I know, but it’s the harsh reality I refuse to look away from. Free.

So with a budget of more than $50,000, we provided about $1,000 worth of actual, real service. Let’s be generous and quadruple that number; we’re still sitting at a value of only 8%. All the while, we potentially robbed locals of temporary employment and/or volunteer experiences that could take tourists and make them travelers, travelers and make them guides. Because 9 years later, I haven’t been back there. But I will go to the LA Food Bank again because I’m connected to it, it’s local, it doesn’t cost $1500 and 20 hours to get there, and they need me.

What do you think those local organizations would have preferred: an afternoon with 18 random Americans they’ll never see again, or a generous contribution they can use to buy supplies, hire local workers, and develop volunteer outreach programs? That may sound cynical, but I’m betting the 18 of us, if we were really truly invested in benefiting the lives of those South Africans impacted by AIDS, could have done the exact same fundraisers and raised only a quarter of what we did and still … our cash would have gone a lot further than our presence.

So in terms of real, tangible value – and I’m sorry to oppose some of my colleagues here on this – I see voluntourism as counterproductive to volunteerism, and something we should be careful to differentiate. At the very least, we should have a healthy skepticism of the term and any organization that uses it.

chrisiconChris Jarvis: This seems like one conversation that is moving back and forth between two topics. On the one hand, as emphasized by Christine and Dainéal, we are concerned about doing harm through episodic volunteering abroad. This may be due to one of two (or more) factors. We’ve mentioned that there may be a lack of insight or considered intentions on the part of the individual who desires to volunteer while abroad or at home. The other factor could be the potential for incompetence or improper motivation of the nonprofit itself (such as using the cause or community to generate revenue or some other value at the expense of those being served).

On the other hand, we are discussing the topic of voluntourism as a practice and trying to evaluate its effectiveness. Here the conversation could be characterized as back and forth movement between effective and efficient leading to a consideration of other possible mechanisms that could result in a better outcome for the cause or community.

At Realized Worth, we take these valid concerns into account in all of our design, theory and practice. This means that we acknowledge the following realities:

  1. Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs) can vary significantly in resourcing, intent, competence, capacity, and ethics.

    Finding the right organization to volunteer with, whether at home or abroad, can be challenging. Many well-intentioned people end up supporting and working with organizations that prove to be a disappointment (this reflects J.K. Rowling’s thoughts). Most of these organizations, however, are quite the opposite, and without which our societies would be severely impoverished.

  2. People new to volunteering may not be able to tell the difference between good and bad volunteering.

    When people volunteer on an irregular basis or for the first time, it is very difficult to know whether the organization you are volunteering with is doing a good job or even the right job. At this early stage of volunteering we just don’t know what questions to ask or how to properly evaluate what may be going on at the organization. What’s more, when you’re new to to cause, community, issue or organization it is probably inappropriate to criticize or question. You’re there to learn. This becomes compounded when we factor in distance, ethnicity, culture, and more.

  3. The greatest result we can hope for through volunteering is a changed person (volunteer).

    In the Transformative Volunteering model (versus a Transactional Volunteering model) the goal is to see participating individuals changed at a psychological, convictional and behavioral level (see the research). The work is a means to this transformative change. We believe this result is required to address systemic issues on a geopolitical level.

  4. Volunteering experiences should never be at the expense of the beneficiary.

    To suggest that the beneficiary is more important than the volunteer, or vice versa, is a false dichotomy. Proper program design will avoid this undesirable volunteering experience. It is unfortunate, however, that due to the under-resourcing of NGO’s and and VIOs volunteers are often viewed as labor or worse, an unfortunate necessity. Equally so, volunteers must be educated to understand the realities facing the communities and issues they hope to benefit through their actions. Understanding the Three Stages of volunteers helps ensure that we guide people towards their highest level of contribution in the most beneficial way for those we intend to serve (see the research).

Finally, I would suggest that we explore how voluntourism may actually provide one of the most effective expressions of transformative volunteering. The conditions and environments of voluntoursim experiences are unique and offer many of the required elements for a transformative learning experience. Yet, as has been noted in research going back to 2012 further investigation is required to understand “some of the factors that prevent volunteer tourism from accomplishing societal transformation and how to foster transformative learning within volunteer tourism organisations, as well as adopting a community-based perspective on volunteer tourism, to understand the role hosts may play in forging a path of transformative learning and finally to address some of the issues around authenticity and emancipatory learning as volunteer tourism plays its part in redressing growing social and environmental issues.” 1

What about you, reader? We didn’t really draw any hard and fast conclusions here, did you? Let us know on Facebook and/or Twitter what your own thoughts are.

Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Alexandra Coghlan & Margaret Gooch (2011): Applying a transformative learning framework to volunteer tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19:6, 713-728
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