GeoVisions Blog

Volunteers Trust Us Sight Unseen. We Need To Earn That Trust

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Sun, Jan 10, 2010

Tire blowout.Have you ever been in a situation where something didn't work out and you expected the worst? Maybe you had a flat tire on the way to the airport. These days you would expect to miss your flight, hope to get another flight and be charged a penalty for the difference in airfare and a change fee.  But how would you feel if you arrived at the counter, you were met with a smile, put on the next flight and there were no extra charges at all?

Robbie and Melissa desperately wanted to teach conversational English in Costa Rica with GeoVisions.  Working together we settled on a location and a project and Robbie and Melissa paid their non-refundable deposits.  Then, at the appropriate time they paid the balance of their fees and as we always do here at GeoVisions, we immediately wired those funds to Costa Rica to cover their expenses at the project.

For a lot of reasons, Robbie and Melissa were not able to participate with GeoVisions after all.  For the purpose of this post, suffice it to say they had a flat on the way to the airport.

I have traveled professionally since 1976.  There are a lot of airline seat impressions under this tired old toosh.  I know exactly what it's like to be told "no."  And "no" isn't so bad if that person who is saying "no" has a smile, demonstrates empathy, and offers alternatives.  "NO!" is one thing.  "The answer is no, but let's see if there are any alternatives that might help." is another answer totally.

Graphic of a backpacker.I would like for you to read Melissa's recent Blog post about what happened to her and Robbie when GeoVisions had to say "no."  I just happened on Melissa's post by accident, and I actually commented on her post.  Her post is honest and if I were to characterize my emotion reading it, I would say I was shocked.  And proud.

There are very few times we have to say "no" at GeoVisions.  And after 35 years of airline seat impresions, arriving at hotels with no rooms, rental cars (and jeeps in Costa Rica) deciding not to go another mile, food poisoning and everything else that can go wrong with a trip, I am proud that we have not forgotten how to smile at GeoVisions and look for options to help our volunteers.  We take seriously the fact that people are giving their time, their money and their hearts to make a difference.  And they do it over the Internet.  They place their trust in us, sight unseen.

Social Media is all about showing the world the good and the bad.  I can't say this is "bad" but Robbie and Melissa aren't going to be able to do a project with GeoVisions.  Still, they are going forward and have found alternatives.  GeoVisions has been able to help, mostly by understanding.  Social Media is about having customers explain the story, not the organization.  In Chris Brogan's language, we strive to be Trust Agents and we try hard to listen.  So, if you have a few minutes I hope you will enjoy Melissa's account of how things went down and what GeoVisions was able to do.

This Social Media stuff is very cool.

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Tags: Volunteer Blogs, Volunteering Abroad