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Some people from churches in the U.S. do volunteer mission service trips to poor countries for 1 to 2 weeks in which they help to build a house or school, or they tutor kids in english for a week, or similar. There are two common problems: 1) The trips are very expensive including airfare each way, so the amount of work they do in 40 to 80 hours is tiny compared to the money spent. If they donated the money, it could be used to pay for 900 to 3,000 hours of local workers and get 20 to 40 times more impact. For example, a mission trip to Honduras costs over $1,800. That amount could pay for 900 hours of work. Also, the nonprofit has to pay people to show the visitors how to do the work, and to translate the language for them. Also, sometimes the nonprofit creates “make work” for the visitors to do to make them feel like they’re doing something so the visitors will have a good experience. 2) When the people return home to the U.S., they often think that they’ve done a significant amount. They also think they’ve completed their duty to serve. Sometimes they spend the next several years telling people about what they did, rather than doing anything more. In reality, they only did $80 worth of work, yet feel they’ve now done their part, and don’t need to do more. We are going to encourage these programs to change the approach by: 1) telling participants that the main purpose of the trip is for them to see and experience how most of the world is really living so they develop empathy that results in life-long support for the poor; 2) that they’re not actually going to get much work done or have much of an impact compared to what their donations can do; 3) educate the participants that the majority of the world is this poor; and that the participants are in the top 20%. 4) ask them to donate the money they would have spent on future missions trips and thus increase their impact by 20 to 40 times. Related, the program would show the participant a real-life example of what the cost of their trip could pay for: such as a new water well, or a third of a new school house etc. They would also see the local manual laborers at work so they can see how much every $50 they donate pays for in work done. E.g. if the local manual labor rate is $2 per hour, the participants watch 25 laborers work for an hour and see how much they get done – so the participants in the future can easily grasp how much their donating will do … compared to their spending $2,000 to go on another mission.

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