There were roughly 300 families who gave an average $1,000 each to Nosara causes during 2013. This is an extraordinary record of generosity for a Costa Rican expat community; indeed, for any expat community, anywhere. The residents of the Beaches of Nosara have a well-deserved reputation for meeting their civic duty and for protecting the ocean and maritime zone. My applause for a job well done.
But let’s not let success go to our heads. There is much more to do.
The task for the 300 donor families is to cajole and persuade the 1) 600+ other families and singles who live in Playas de Nosara; and 2) the estimated 50,000 visitors who either breeze through or hang-out for awhile in Playas de Nosara, to donate as well.
This brings me to a new concept that is having traction in other resort destinations. It is called Travelers’ Philanthropy. According to Martha Honey, who leads the Travelers’ Philanthropy program at the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) the definition of Traveler’s Philanthropy is:
“Travelers’ philanthropy is tourism businesses and travelers making concrete contributions of time, talent, and treasure to local projects beyond what is generated through the normal tourism business….[I]t is about integrating tourism company and visitor support for local communities into the core definition of responsible travel.”
CREST’s preference is for local projects that provide “a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out,’ promoting social empowerment, education and entrepreneurship that lead to sustainable development and environmental conservation. Traveler’s philanthropy enriches the travel experience through meaningful, culturally sensitive, and productive interactions with people in host communities.
“Done well,” says Honey, “travelers’ philanthropy benefits the destination, the travel business and the traveler.”
In Nosara, we have an ideal foundation to inaugurate a Travelers’ Philanthropy program. One model for a new effort comes from Monteverde, our neighbor and a trailblazer in these efforts. As Robert Bailes, Coordinator of the Monteverde Travelers’ Philanthropy Initiative has observed, “Tourism has brought some benefits to the community, but it has not necessarily delivered an equitable form of development, nor has it effectively channeled the economic wealth of tourism into local community development.”
Quoting from CREST’s Traveler Philanthropy Handbook, “Monteverde’s public institutions lack the economic resources to fulfill community development needs. Central government funding, channeled through the local municipality, is inadequate to meet all of Monteverde’s basic infrastructure and service requirements. A successful destination-level Travelers’ Philanthropy Initiative would help to put in place a long-term mechanism to generate private sector contributions to support projects designated by the community as priorities for sustainable development.”
A Traveler’s Philanthropy program could help Nosara improve community services on behalf of its children, with both new money and in helping to cut through red tape to gain better access to existing resources. Travelers’ Philanthropy, when done right, brings together tourists, companies, government and non-profit organizations, all working together.
This sounds like a program made-to-order for our community. Learn more about this and other programs at responsibletravel.org. This could be a very good way forward for Nosara to multiply its already enviable record for charitable giving.