Product and Financial Donations
#ShowSumLove is a passion project that looks to provide local organizations with direct donations and mini swag bags in the hopes of empowering local communities, specifically vulnerable females, in developing regions. I partner with non-profit organizations in the communities/regions where I travel. So far my travels have been focused on Latin America.
As mentioned above, the donations come in two forms: sample/travel sized items that are repackaged as mini swag bags and financial donations. While the swag bags aren't promoting socio-economic development or literacy, they are meaningful. These bag of treats are a way for women to escape their day-to-day hardships and perhaps, aid the process of strengthening their self-confidence. I believe that it's a way to give women an experience of feeling pampered and beautiful, even if it is for a moment. The financial donations are an investment into their futures and local economy, by purchasing items that support education, literacy and sustainability projects for the individuals in need.
It's a way to show people that their contributions are meaningful. Being able to send positive vibes and hope from a developed region to complete strangers who are in need is pretty special.
Fundamentally, it supports the idea that we are all connected. The donations are a representation of hope; it shows that a complete stranger on the other side of the world wants to do their tiny part to support the empowerment, socio-economic development and success of communities in the developing world.
What is your objective with this project?
To be clear, I'm not looking to change the world.
I just want to demonstrate to travellers, backpackers and the like that it's possible to make the time to volunteer, give back and make a small difference while they’re travelling. Whether it's buying a meal for someone who's hungry, laying bricks down for a new school or teaching English for free; you don't have to be a celebrity, rich or an ambassador for the UN.
Really, it's just about the time you'd like to invest; not how much money you have to contribute.
The model is simple to apply: Find a cause that you're passionate about, conduct your due diligence, collect your donations and deploy it in the area that you travelling through.
When did you launch this project?
In Jan 2016, we partnered with non-governmental organization, L.I.F.E. Argentina, who works with underprivileged communities in Argentina. Founder, Liliana Mocoroa, has worked to provide resources, education and opportunities to the communities of Ciudad Oculta (Villa 15) and Perutí Village in Misiones.
How does the store contribute to the projects?
As an alternative method of raising funds, we wanted to offer online store where profits go towards projects which provide underprivileged communities with the resources for on-going education and sustainability programs. Each purchase is a contribution and representation of being part of the change for those in need.
Bonus? We are delighted and honoured that textile designer, Schatzi Brown, created an exclusive line specifically for Project #ShowSumLove. On occasion, we will offer feature items (limited in quantity) donated by individuals, artists and companies as a way to contribute to our initiative!
How do you select the organizations your partner with?
The main criteria for the non-profits that are considered for the project are ones that are focused on providing literacy and educational opportunities for women and children in impoverished areas.
I conduct my own due diligence process, which includes an interview process through e-mail/WhatsApp, Skype conversations and background checks for credibility and authenticity. After the research, I just trust my gut to make the final decision on which organization I'd like to partner with.
How do you collect your donations?
The samples are collected through my personal network. It seems that we all have "stuff" hiding in our cabinets whether it's from stores, magazines, hotels, airplanes, or dentist visits. I just gather them up whenever people want to give them up.
A fun alternative to our fundraising methods is through our online store where 100% of profits are deployed directly to the strategic partners we are working with to ensure the purchase of resources and aid to on-going literacy, education and sustainability projects in impoverished communities. Each product is a symbol of support of the positive social impacts we can do as a collective whole.
For my next trip, I'll send out a reminder well in advance and in the weeks leading up to the trip. That way friends and our network have time to sort through their stuff. This also gives individuals an opportunity to contribute financially if they choose to.
Financial donations are accepted in-person, e-mail transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the donations link in the main menu via PayPal.
Note that financial contributions via Paypal is subject to a flat fee of US$0.59 + ~3% of the transaction amount
Can you provide more clarity on how the financial donations are tracked and used?
I believe in transparency.
The full amount collected in C$ is disclosed and I track the transactions on a spreadsheet. The only expense would come from when I exchange the Canadian dollars into local currency. From there, the financials are tracked on an item by item basis. Gross donations (in local currency) minus the items purchased until we reach zero or near zero. At the end of the project, a statement will be published in the respective blog post regarding the project.
Why are you doing this if you only travel part-time?
Why not? I’m pretty fortunate to be where I am in my life. Even though my trips are for a short duration, I believe that we can always make time to provide a positive and meaningful experience for others.
Given that I work full-time in addition to Project #ShowSumLove, it provides me with the opportunity to put 100% of all profits of products and collected donations to our strategic partners with 0% overhead.
How can others contribute to this project?
Honestly, I encourage travellers to apply this model to their own travels. Donate items or purchase resources for communities in need. Start up your own version of Project #ShowSumLove at home or wherever you're travelling and just spread those positive vibes when you can.
Why are you focused on Latin America?
It's a personal preference; I enjoy the Latin American culture and love surfing. Because of that, my focus has naturally shifted towards Latin America. That being said, there are many underdeveloped and developing regions that would appreciate the help and I encourage travellers to explore all opportunities to give back.
Is this project also something you're doing at home?
Sort of. The financial donations do not get deployed in Toronto as there are a number of great organizations that already exist to help those in need. However, excess swag bags, or those that are just too big to take with me overseas, are given out to locals in need. I'll walk around and hand them out to the homeless or to shelters.