PLATINUM2023

Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc.

Travel with Purpose

aka ConservationVIP   |   ORINDA, CA   |  https://conservationvip.org

Mission

Conservation Volunteers International Program is dedicated to helping sustain some of the world's greatest landscapes, cultural heritage sites and biodiversity.  We offer volunteer travel to some extraordinary destinations where the trip participants volunteer on environmental conservation projects. Volunteer projects include maintaining and building trails, restoring cultural heritage sites, and protecting and restoring critical biological and natural habitats.

Ruling year info

2008

Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Chris Braunlich

Main address

120 VILLAGE SQUARE #9

ORINDA, CA 94563 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-1154515

NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Voluntarism Promotion (T40)

Promotion of International Understanding (Q20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

ConservationVIP works to mitigate environmental problems caused by acute budget and staffing problems afflicting national parks and other public lands. Although the size of protected areas have increased worldwide, many countries are not able to adequately manage their protected lands. Land management agencies throughout the United States and the world are suffering from infrastructure decline and a tremendous backlog of deferred maintenance. For example, there are 423 U.S. National Park units covering 85 million acres. Fiercely loved by the public, it is estimated that over 300 million people visited the parks in 2022. At the close of fiscal year 2022 the deferred maintenance backlog was $22.3 billion. which dwarfed the budget for the entire National Park Service. Volunteers are crucial to the operations of the National Park Service. In less prosperous countries, lack of funding and staffing is even more severe, and assistance is more critically necessary.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Machu Picchu Volunteer Program

Conservation Volunteers International Program (ConservationVIP) organizes and leads volunteer trips to work on site preservation and resource protection in Machu Picchu Sanctuary in Peru, a World Heritage site, in collaboration with Peru’s National Service for Protected Area Management (SERNANP), National Institute of Culture (INC), and the Municipality of Machu Picchu Pueblo. Volunteers have performed a variety of tasks, including restoring trails; cleaning plants from buildings and terrace walls within the Sacred City; planting trees; removing undesired vegetation; administering questionnaires prepared by SERNANP to Inca Trail tourists; and providing search and rescue training for Peruvian park staff.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Conservation VIP leads groups of volunteers to Torres del Paine National Park, in the Patagonia region of Chile. This magnificent park has been designated by UNESCO as a Reserve of the Biosphere. Because this is one of the world's most extraordinary landscapes, the Park has experienced a very significant growth in the number of visitors who travel to see the Park and hike the trails. The Park simply does not have the resources to maintain the trails.

Lack of proper maintenance causes erosion, which affects the park's many streams and lakes. In addition, poor quality trails result in hikers going off-trail disturbing sensitive habitat. Our volunteers work with the CONAF park rangers to try to correct this problem.

We have also helped the Park construct five bridges on hiking trails in the Park, significantly increasing safety both for visitors and park staff.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Conservation Volunteers International Program (ConservationVIP) organizes and leads volunteer trips to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands Volunteer Trip is focused on helping to protect the wildlife that makes the Galapagos such a unique place. Volunteers work on important conservation projects including sea turtle research and habitat protection for the giant tortoise.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Conservation Volunteers International Program (ConservationVIP) organizes and leads volunteer trips to Yosemite National Park in California. Our volunteers work with National Park Service trail crew to help improve and maintain trails in Yosemite Valley and restore fragile natural resources damaged by visitor use.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Conservation Volunteers International Program (ConservationVIP) organizes and leads volunteer trips to the the Virgin Islands National Park. Volunteers help Virgin Islands National Park improve and maintain trails, restore fragile natural resources, and clear vegetation from historic structures in the back country of St. John to preserve the structures for future generations.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Volunteer work, primarily maintaining and building trails, in Tongass National Forest and Klondike Gold Rush National Park

Population(s) Served
Adults

Volunteer Trips which help rewild the Scottish Highlands

Population(s) Served
Adults

Volunteer Program to help preserve sea turtles in Costa Rica

Population(s) Served
Adults

Volunteers help restore or rebuild the ancient dry stone walls that are iconic in this area and which illustrate the heritage of humanity, traditional land uses, and landscape design.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

length of trails maintained or built

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Torres del Paine Volunteer Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Miles of trail or boardwalk maintained or built (smaller number reflect new trail or boardwalk built; larger numbers reflect trail maintained)

Number of Volunteer Hours donated to help public lands with maintenance projects

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our volunteer activities include a wide range of activities - trail work, protecting sea turtles and tortoises, planting trees, removing invasive species, etc. - total hrs. is the only common metric.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Conservation Volunteers International Program is dedicated to helping sustain some of the world's greatest landscapes, cultural heritage sites and biodiversity.

Our primary goal is to help the land managers protect their environmental resources. We recruit, organize and supervise volunteers to work on conservation projects which would otherwise not be done. Our volunteers provide valuable support to important public lands which are underfunded and understaffed. They work on projects such as building and maintaining trails which protect fragile landscapes and animal habitat and keep streams clear, planting trees, removing invasive species, and clearing vegetation from archaeological sites, thus preserving inspiring open space for future generations.

Because there is a history of popular support for parks in the U.S., the major U.S. public lands generally receive support from local volunteer groups, they have volunteer program managers, and they have identified tasks which can be performed by volunteers. In these cases, we often provide the land managers with volunteers who are willing to perform some of the more rigorous volunteer work, and we provide leaders who can help supervise the work.

For public lands in other countries, local volunteer support is often rare or nonexistent, and the ability of the land managers to organize and supervise volunteer work is extremely limited. In these destinations, we help to identify work which can be performed by volunteers, provide the primary management oversight of the work, and train and educate local land managers. Our goal is to build good will with the Parks and the local populations, to share our knowledge of conservation techniques, and to demonstrate by our actions that it is possible for volunteers to have a significant positive impact on their sites. In the long-term, our goal for our international parks is to inspire these parks and their local populations to help develop local volunteer support like we have in the U.S.

Our secondary goal is to expand the pool of people inspired to volunteer to help public lands. Many of our destinations have suffered because they are popular with tourists who are loving them to death. We focus our marketing on people who like to travel and introduce them to volunteering as a better way to travel which benefits the sites they care about. Because our volunteers enjoy the experience and feel rewarded when they see how they have contributed to these sites, they often resolve to travel on more volunteer trips with ConservationVIP, and to do more volunteering in their local parks. The other side of this equation is that, because we bring travelers who want to help them, the destinations realize that some of the tourists who visit them truly care about them and their sites. We think that by facilitating this mutual respect and understanding, we can accomplish our third key goal of building friendships across cultures, one kilometer at a time.

Conservation VIP's strategy is driven by the challenge of achieving our mission to help sustain some of the world's greatest landscapes, cultural heritage sites and biodiversity, while relying on volunteers and limited financial resources.

As a small nonprofit with limited resources, we have slowly built our activities, expanding one site at a time. We focus on caring for our destinations and our volunteers and partnering with others to leverage our limited resources. We must provide a valuable service to our destinations to be invited back to help them. We find that the good will and trust we have built with our beneficiary parks helps us expand to other destinations. We also must provide a meaningful and positive experience for our volunteers. Because the type of international environmental volunteer work which we promote is not a common or well-established activity, attracting volunteers is an ongoing challenge. By ensuring that our volunteers have a good experience, we increase the likelihood that they will repeat their participation and recommend our volunteer trips to others, enabling us to expand further. When possible, we partner with others to provide the many necessary support services, allowing us to focus on the activities where we bring value-added.

The best way to illustrate our strategy is to describe our early development: ConservationVIP's activities began in 2007 in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. Torres del Paine is a UNESCO Reserve of the Biosphere, a site with tremendous ecological significance and inadequate resources to deal with the impact of rising tourism from around the world. We established relationships with the Torres del Paine managers and with travel service providers, to ensure a meaningful, safe, and productive experience for the park and our volunteers. Our next destination was Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Like Torres del Paine, we worked to establish relationships with the park management and service providers to provide positive experiences for our volunteers. Next, we added a trip to Yosemite National Park. In addition to fulfilling our mission of serving one of the world's greatest landscapes, this location allows us to introduce people to our activities at a location which requires less time and expense commitment for the volunteers. Other destinations followed.

From 2010 - 2021, we partnered with REI Adventures who advertised our trips and handled the logistics of signing up volunteers for our trips, allowing us to more rapidly expand our reach. When they ceased foreign travel activities in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, we scrambled to take on the logistical challenges of enrolling volunteers because we understood how important our help is to the destinations we serve. We are proud to say that we not only continued to support them, but we also added a new destination in 2022 (Cinque Terre).

The key resources required for our operations are experienced people to lead our trips, people with specialized skills to perform the many administrative, travel planning, and marketing functions required, and financial resources to sustain the operations.

We have the resources necessary to sustain our operations at the current level. We believe that we will be able to continue to attract experienced, qualified volunteers to lead our volunteer trips. We have been investing in information systems which will allow us to expand while keeping staffing to a minimum. However, we believe we have reached the limit in terms of relying on volunteers to staff the management and support functions. We have outsourced some administrative functions and we have added part-time staff while maintaining adequate financial strength. To meet our goal of expanding our activities, we will need to hire more staff to handle the increased workload. This plan will be challenging but feasible if we carefully manage our growth, given our operating model.

Because we do not want to burden our beneficiary sites with costs and we do not have the benefit of an endowment, we developed an operating model wherein our volunteers pay fees which cover the direct costs of running the volunteer trips, including expenses such as food, lodging, transportation, etc. and the overhead expenses such as insurance, information technology, reserves to cover contingencies and to build working capital to allow us to expand our beneficiary sites. We have kept our overhead low by operating as a virtual organization, relying on a virtual office and technology to minimize fixed expenditures. This financial model both limits our down-side risk and constrains the rate at which we can expand our beneficiary sites. As our expansion plans mature, we plan to seek grant money to support more expansion of our activities.

One of the other significant challenges we face is marketing. Because we are small and not well-known and we are recruiting volunteers for activities which are uncommon, we face an ongoing challenge to recruit sufficient numbers of volunteers. We are slowly building our reputation via online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. We are also working on initiatives to increase our social media presence and our website visibility, and we are building our marketing expertise.

While we view expansion as a challenge, based on what we have accomplished to date, we have confidence that with the support of our dedicated volunteers we will successfully meet that challenge.

We have made significant progress since our founding in 2007. In our initial year of operation, we organized one volunteer trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. In 2022, we organized thirteen volunteer trips to nine different destinations. In total, thru the end of 2022, Conservation Volunteers International Program has organized 108 volunteer trips which contributed 55,776 hours of volunteer work to the destinations we serve. We have been able to expand and serve more parks despite operating without any endowment, because we are run by dedicated volunteers who are committed to our cause.

In an achievement well beyond our initial plans, during this period we also have been instrumental in raising funds for and constructing five very important hikers' bridges in Torres del Paine National Park. We have also donated a variety of goods and equipment to our beneficiary parks to enable them to better carry out their work. Our donations have included items such as camera equipment to track sea turtles in the Galapagos, trail maintenance equipment in several national parks, rope and related climbing equipment for search and rescue activities in Machu Picchu and sunglasses to protect the eyesight of Machu Picchu rangers working at high elevation.

As another barometer of our progress, our volunteer trips have achieved very high satisfaction ratings among our volunteer trip participants, which is critical to our ability to continue to recruit future volunteers and is an indicator of our trip participants' growing commitment to volunteering.

What's next? We see significant unfulfilled needs for conservation-oriented volunteer help in public lands. We plan to continue to expand to serve more parks. We plan to do this in a careful, thoughtful manger to ensure that we continue to offer safe, rewarding volunteer experiences for our volunteers and high quality volunteer services for the destinations we serve. As we stretch to expand our outreach, our focus on quality and service will remain unchanged.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 02/11/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Chris Braunlich

Retired

Term: 2021 - 2023

Chris Braunlich

Retired Corporate CFO

John Hollinrake

Organic Farm Inspector; former NPS ranger and lawyer

Mark Hardgrove

Retired National Park Service

Barbara Kennedy

Retired Forest Service

Ed Eads

Kelly McCoy

Carol Clark

Retired National Park Service

Garry Oye

Retired National Park Service

Vakhid Shimanski

Accounting & Finance Professional

Jim Upchurch

Retired Forest Service

Meghan McMeel

Lawyer

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/11/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability