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Crescent City Connections (CCC) is New Orleans’ first and only voluntourism agency. CCC promotes diverse economic development in New Orleans by connecting visitors and locals with local community organizations to create unique experiences. Through the recruitment and coordination of volunteers, CCC provides needed resources to community organizations in the form of human and financial capital, while providing memorable and impactful experiences to clients.
A recent survey by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, found that over 50% of surveyed nonprofits in greater New Orleans operate on an annual budget of $750,000 or less and nearly half report having less than a 3-month operating reserve . In the same survey, fundraising was the number one ranked need among nonprofits. Furthermore, a lot of the resources that were available following Hurricane Katrina are now drying up, meaning a larger financial deficit ensues for nonprofits.
CCC bridges contributions from tourism and local business with local nonprofit organizations to help build the capacity of nonprofits. What if 3 or 4% of the economic impact from tourism was directed towards nonprofits?
The specific service CCC provides to its clients is a conveinent and memorable high-quality volunteer experience. Volunteering can be an amazing way to connect people to a city and its residents. Furthermore, volunteering also promotes individual growth, team-building, and leadership. These will be the invaluable benefits customers of CCC will be receiving.
Unfortunately, there are three major issues currently preventing large-scale, meaningful volunteering in New Orleans.
1. No organizations or concentrated efforts currently promote and recruit volunteers from the tourist-base. There are plenty of companies that encourage swamp and ghost tours, but none for voluntourism.
If a tourist is interested in volunteering, they must do their own research and coordination, which results in either:
• People don’t know voluntourism options exist, or
• People don’t have the time or energy to coordinate plans
2. For those that are aware, and use their resources to find volunteer activities, it’s still hard to vet organizations to ensure their experience will be worthwhile.
3. Non-profits don’t have the resources to accommodate voluntourists’ needs to create comfortable and joyful experiences. Many steps must be taken to make their experience positive:
• Provide context of service with necessary background information
• Facilitate ice-breakers/conversation
• Assign responsibilities and provide necessary tools/support/oversight
• Provide extra amenities by connecting volunteers with the culture, food, music, and people of New Orleans
• Facilitate reflection of their service
CCC will solve these issues, by:
• Creating an awareness/advertising campaign to promote voluntourism
• Creating quality partnerships with local organizations that have the capacity to work with voluntourists
• Working closely with voluntourists to make sure their needs are met
CCC will turn these processes into one concentrated business effort. As a result, more people will volunteer, creating a greater impact and connection to New Orleans. Also, nonprofits will better achieve their goals with the added financial and human capital. Together, they will create a better New Orleans.
With the approximately 8.75 million people that visit New Orleans annually and the approximatly 1 million that live in the Greater New Orleans Metro area, out market size is quite large. However, CCC does have specific target groups.
One major target group is convention and conference-goers. Currently, 25% of visitors are here for business . Of those in town for business, nearly 60% extended their stay for pleasure . CCC hopes to attract many of its customers by working with conference organizers to make pre and post-conference volunteer trips available to their participants.
A second target group is people in town for special events, such as the Super Bowl, Final Four, Jazzfest, etc. These events attract a lot of press and money to the city, and CCC will take full advantage of these special opportunities. CCC will also make a concentrated effort to attract student and youth groups already coming to the city. Finally, CCC will target visiting families and individuals.
CCC is confident customers will pay for their service because voluntourism is growing nationally and is a great socially conscious alternative to traditional tourist activities.
Once established as a viable L3C, CCC will generate revenue by charging $50 a day per volunteer. Our estimates show that to break even in the first year, CCC will have to serve approximately 30 voluntourists a week.
CCC hopes to receive pro-bono services from local firms and also generate funds from crowdsourcing, angel investors, donations, loans and grants. If all of these sources are unavailable, the CCC co-founders have the resources to pay out-of-pocket for many of these services.