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David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As reported in the March 12, 2008, issue of the Local History News, GuideStar reports an emerging trend in the travel industry called “voluntourism.” This is the idea that people can vacation and volunteer for local nonprofits at the same time. Dave Beal, in his February 15, 2008, entry on MinnPost, wrote about how business leaders are looking to rejuvenate volunteerism through “smarter volunteerism.” This is the idea that businesses can strengthen community by encouraging employees to use their skills on local volunteer projects. Both articles hint at personal enrichment for the volunteer. Since volunteering provides benefit to two parties, the first article shows a benefit for organizations where volunteers visit on vacation, and the second suggests businesses could gain more productive employees in more conducive communities.

The Beal article is reminiscent of Mary Warner’s post about what businesses could learn from nonprofit historical organizations. The GuideStar article about voluntourism suggests another small-if-growing dimension to heritage tourism. Have any of Minnesota’s local historical organizations noticed either trend? In what ways might you want to explore either or both trends to attract more volunteers?

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