How to make your adventure holiday charitable

Going on an adventure holiday is awesome, but it also presents opportunities to give back ... photo by CC user movingmountainstrust on Flickr

Charitable vacations are fast becoming the rage. Funding requests for a charitable trip to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro or a bungee jumping expedition to New Zealand are commonplace on various social media platforms. What’s the story here? Does your donation fund the person’s trip, or does the money actually go towards the charity? The answer to this question is, it depends.

Many companies offer charitable adventure holidays. Here’s how it works: you select one of the adventure holidays offered, which sets you a task. Let’s say you select a holiday where your challenge is to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro. Next, you select a charity of your choice. This can either be from a preselected list of charities offered by the tour operator or one of your choice if the operator allows it. Let’s say that you choose to help cancer research. to donate to a cause such as fighting cancer.

Next, you have to choose a payment option. You can normally choose one of two options, self-funding or fundraising. With self-funding, you pay all the trip costs including, air fare, accommodation, food, local travel and all other charges at the destination. In addition, you pledge a certain amount that you will donate towards the selected charity. The benefit of this route is that the pledged donation can be small and hence easier to raise from family and friends. The people contributing the donations will receive a tax write off for that amount, and the funds collected go to the charity.

The second option is fundraising. Here you would pledge to raise a substantially larger sum normally specified by the operator. If you have good fundraising skills and can raise large amounts, this is the route to take. The biggest advantage here is that the trip is financed from the money that is raised and the balance goes to the charity. If you can do the math right and raise the targeted funds, you basically walk away with a free holiday. 

Under the second option, the charity must authorize the sponsorship option, as the fundraising agreement is directly between you and the charity. Here the tax write off is only for the actual amount donated, so the tax benefit you get could range from 50-60 cents on each dollar collected.

A lot of gung-ho travellers see this as an opportunity for a paid holiday, only to discover that raising the targeted amount isn’t easy. In this case, most operators will let you switch to the self-funding option.

All in all, it is a rather neat way to kill three birds with one stone. You get to go on an adventure holiday to an exotic location where you set yourself an interesting challenge. You get a feel good factor from the effort of raising funds and helping a charitable cause. You’re doing your bit towards good karma. Third and last, if you play your cards right and collect a sufficiently large amount, you get a free holiday in the process.