Volunteer Tourism as a Business Commodity in Indonesia

Selasa, 14 Mei 2024 - 02:33 | 17.22k
Roma Kyo Kae Saniro, Dosen Universitas Andalas
Roma Kyo Kae Saniro, Dosen Universitas Andalas

TIMESINDONESIA, PADANG – Indonesia can be considered a country with a high interest in volunteering worldwide. According to the World Giving Index (WGI) 2021 report, Indonesia excels in three main aspects of WGI measurement: giving donations to strangers/unknown individuals, giving monetary donations, and participating in voluntary activities. Data shows that Indonesia ranks among the top two in all three categories, indicating a high level of generosity and volunteerism among its people. Furthermore, research results from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) show that over 8 out of 10 Indonesians actively donate money in the relevant year. This reflects a solid commitment to helping others and supporting various initiatives that require financial support.

Additionally, Husna and Isbah, in their article, also revealed that volunteer activities in Indonesia have become a new trend that has been said to increase among teenagers in the last five years (2021). Activities based on volunteering in the form of service visit regions or destinations that are widely popular or underdeveloped. These activities can also be considered as adding value to someone's portfolio.

Thus, the level of participation in volunteer activities in Indonesia has also emerged, with a rate three times higher than the average volunteer rate worldwide. This indicates a strong spirit of cooperation and concern for the broader community needs in Indonesia. Various volunteer activities are also carried out in Indonesia, such as Arah Pemuda Indonesia, Rangkai Desa, Pelosok Bumi by Ayo Membumi, Jiwa Relawan, Volunteernesia, Sahabat Desa, Renjana Mengabdi, YATC Indonesia, Rumah Peluang with Sekebun Aksi volunteers, and PYVC Volunteers. Implementing what is said to be volunteering should be free. Still, in practice, participants must pay one hundred thousand or other nominal amounts to get access to fully funded or pay for everything if it is self-funded.

An interesting phenomenon to note is the use of the "fully funded" framing often seen in activity flyers. This framing tends to lure people into participating in attractive activities by promising that all costs will be covered by the organizers or even completely free. However, upon deeper analysis, this is simply a marketing strategy used by the organizers or implementing organizations to attract participants.

The use of "fully funded" framing may succeed in attracting attention, mainly due to the enticing promise of free travel or cost-free experiences. However, it is essential to remember that behind this impression is a vital marketing motive to increase participation in the event. As expressed by Luthfiyah in an article on Mojok.com in 2019, there is concern that service activities that should aim to benefit the community can be misused as a platform for showing off or other purposes. 

Therefore, participants need to conduct further research before participating in activities advertised as "fully funded" to ensure that the actual goals and values of the activity align with their expectations and values. Furthermore, participants' motivations for such activities can be selfish or various personal gain objectives.

Indeed, with the lure of being fully funded, participants go through various processes where, in the end, they have to pay for them. However, the framing of fully funded. The practices outlined demonstrate how activities organized by institutions or entities may have significant commercial implications. The initial phase, involving participant information collection and encouraging the sharing of promotional content on social media, is a sophisticated marketing tactic. By leveraging this method, event planners can expand their reach to a broader audience at minimal cost. By asking participants to advocate for the event at no cost, they effectively harness the influence of social platforms to increase visibility and appeal to potential participants.

Moreover, the next step of collecting funds from qualified participants allows organizers to generate profits. While these funds are often presented as charitable contributions or administrative fees, the large amounts accumulated from many participants can serve as a significant revenue stream. In cases where the number of registrants is high, such as 1000 people, the total funds collected can be quite substantial, reaching 100 million rupiahs.

Therefore, it is clear that the activity has precise commercial dimensions. Organizers use clever marketing tactics to increase participation rates while earning revenue from registration fees or donations from participants. This highlights how social or philanthropic efforts can also serve as profitable business prospects for overseeing organizations or institutions.

From a business perspective, considering social, educational, humanitarian, or environmental activities as new commodities reflects an evolution in how companies view corporate social responsibility and interact with communities. Volunteer tourism, or volunteer tourism, is often seen as a form of social program disguised as a business. In many cases, organizers use a business model where thousands of registrants are asked to donate a certain amount of money as a requirement to participate in the program.

However, only a few participants are selected to receive full support for travel expenses, accommodations, and other expenses. In this context, organizers can gain significant financial benefits from the program. Registration fees and donations from thousands of participants can generate substantial income for the organizers, especially if the costs far exceed the expenses to support the selected participants. 

Volunteer tourism is an exciting example of how organizers and participants can see social or humanitarian activities as a business commodity. This highlights the complexity of the relationship between social and economic aspects in the context of activities aimed at making a positive social impact.


*) Oleh : Roma Kyo Kae Saniro, Dosen Universitas Andalas

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Editor : Hainorrahman
Publisher : Sholihin Nur


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