Uniglobe helps travelers donate to local charities while vacationingPhilanthropic Pursuit — By Ryan Kovalaske on January 12, 2012 at 8:00 am
As winter sets in here in Central Ohio, many minds are turning to warmer, tropical climates people wish to escape to soon. Uniglobe Travel Designers can help devise that escape plan while keeping the guilt at bay with its charitable giving program, The Vitamin D Vacation Giveback.
Uniglobe Travel Designers is a minority-owned, full-service travel management company started in 1981 by Elsie Blount. It is part of Uniglobe Travel −the world’s largest single-brand retail travel franchise, with more 750 locations in 40 countries− and was the first in the U.S. Uniglobe Travel Designers clients include The Ohio State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus City Schools and the Office of the Mayor.
In 2005, Blount’s daughters, Elizabeth and Jacqueline, joined the company and have taken it in a new direction, focusing on health and wellness through vacations.
“We provide our clients with trusted experts who have traveled the world and offer firsthand knowledge of destinations and resorts,” says Jacqueline. “Our ability to give clients stress-free and memorable vacations keeps them coming back.”
In October 2010, The Vitamin D Vacation Giveback program was launched as a way to give back to charity while encouraging health and wellness through vacations. The program currently partners with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Cancer Support Community Central Ohio, and the Junior League of Columbus. The charities were selected based on their impact in the community and alignment with the philosophy of Uniglobe Travel Designers. For every vacation that is booked through Uniglobe Travel Designers, $25 is donated back to one of those charities (as selected by the client).
The program was born out of a brainstorming session. Uniglobe Travel Designers was looking to develop a give back program for its corporate clients that would encourage their employees to take vacations while supporting their employer’s charity or foundation. The first client they approached was Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which jumped on board with the program.
“As a small business, it is difficult for us to contribute enough to make a significant impact,” Jacqueline says. “Through this program, we hope to increase our ability to continue to give back to the community.”
In the beginning, the program was only offered to corporate clients who choose which charity they wanted to benefit. However, Jacqueline and her colleagues realized they would have a greater impact in the community if they focused the donation program on a few select charities versus any charity. They also opened the Vitamin D Vacation Giveback program to anyone who books a vacation through Uniglobe Travel Designers.
The program has raised $3,300 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and $1,575 for the Cancer Support Community Central Ohio. The Junior League of Columbus was incorporated into the program in December. The program’s success has largely hinged on building awareness among Uniglobe Travel Designers’ corporate clients and with each charity they support.
“Another key element [to success] is educating the public on the use of travel agents,” Jacqueline says. “There is a myth that it costs more to use a travel agent than it does to book online. Many people feel that they can just do it themselves, but then get overwhelmed with the thousands of options and travel sites.”
For businesses looking to develop their own philanthropic effort, Jacqueline encourages them to remember that every little bit counts.
“We’re a small business and we were looking for a way to give back to the Columbus community,” she says. “We’ve found that our partners are so grateful for our help and support.”
Ryan Kovalaske is the Community Relations Director for Community Shares of Mid Ohio, which connects employees to the issues and causes they care about most through workplace giving campaigns. He enjoys supporting nonprofits, exploring Columbus, and making connections.
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