Who Are We?

Introduction

The Volunteers Without Borders Foundation evolved from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative founded in 2004 by Track of the Tiger, in collaboration with the Ban Mae Lai village community, Chiang Mai. The project established a nature trail along a length of the Mae Lai stream that ascends from 1000 to 1600m over and around some 17 waterfalls and through the community forest.

Grant funding for construction materials and labour was provided by the PATA Foundation and was subsidised by donations/labour from school clients under their community service requirement.

Track of the Tiger covered some labour costs, and the development of a nature trail guidebook, plus overheads, marketing and booking costs. The project won the SKAL Ecotourism Award for 2006.

The beneficiaries:

  • Track of the Tiger benefited by establishing a platform for experiential learning programmes for its client markets - International school, corporate team building and special interest travel.
  • The village community benefited from the construction work, trail entry fees, employment opportunities for guides and service staff at Pang Soong Lodge, and better access to and protection for their traditional community forest.
  • Donors and volunteers benefit by having 100% of their Community Service donor funding and hands on effort go directly to the project they were working on, and not to cover marketing and overheads etc. Their input builds an opportunity for the village to generate sustainable revenue - and more.

To build on that success the model transitioned from CSR Initiative to registered non-profit foundation status to ensure a clear separation of profit and non-profit operations. To that end, Track of the Tiger & The Maekok River Village Resort continued their symbiotic relationship with VWB, covering all overhead, admin and marketing costs, ensuring that 95% of funding contributed by volunteers went directly to the Community Service (CS) projects they worked on.

The Maekok River Village Resort & Student Centre, used the community service component of its experiential education programmes to attract donor funding and labour from its visiting schools clients. Over a few short years they completed 150 projects injecting US$ 850'000.- (teaching English, building classrooms, water systems, toilets, a special needs school wing), into the schools of the Amphur Mae Ai, area. Their efforts were recently honoured with an award by the Thai Ministry of Education.

The Board of Directors for VWB, chaired by the MD of Track of the Tiger, draw no salaries, expenses or remuneration for their services. They reason that their companies benefit from providing the accommodation, meals and services for those undertaking VWB's CS/CSR projects, which in many cases are also used as platforms for delivery of their experiential learning programmes.

In an environment where the well established non-profits are under increasing scrutiny for the exhorbitant salaries, remuneration packages and expense entitlements of their directors and senior management, the flow of much needed funding and hands on help to those in need is under threat. The control of funding lies firmly in the hands of the donor/volunteer, who can and must police the non-profit sector by demanding transparency and accountability from the organisations that seek their support. 

With the advent of the internet, and symbiotic operating models like the one outlined above, non-profits can now be locally operated and reduce the percentage of donor funding spent on overheads to an absolute minimum, and provide potential donors/volunteers with (a) an audited summary of annual accounts that state clarly where donor funding is spent. (b) an assessment of what long term their contribution to the projects will accomplish.

For enquires and programme quotations, please use our contact form.

   
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