Soccer Without Borders was recently featured in a research study surrounding the impact and sustainability of volunteer tourism. The authors of the study, Natalie Smith, Adam Cohen, and Andrew Pickett, spent five weeks with SWB in Granada, Nicaragua observing organizations and the structure of our international Team Leader program, interviewing past Team Leaders from Nicaragua and Uganda as well.
According to the paper, volunteer tourism, or "engaging in volunteer work while traveling," has grown into a massive industry with over 1.5 million people. However with the growing participation has come more commercialization in the field, leading to questions of how impactful and sustainable volunteer tourism programs truly are.
"Our findings suggest that SWB strategies of targeted recruiting, longer terms, and directed organizational structure for integration and career development, resulted in the organization being sustainable over time and while not exhibiting many of the neo-colonial attributes often attributed to development initiatives," the authors conclude.
"To this end, we recognize that the design of the SWB program was important in the successful recruiting and engagement of volunteers that were equipped and motivated to carry out the organization's development objectives, while also achieving their own personal goals. Both incoming and out-going volunteers expressed the impactful nature of their experience."