The Responsible Tourism Partnership have posted some professional ethics for responsible volunteering on their website. There are just two signatories who have signed up to these ethics so far, but I am assuming other organisations can sign up. While I think these are a very admirable, thorough, worthwhile set of ethics, I also wonder how realistic they are for some organisations to achieve. For example, not all organisations have the capacity for interviewing and screening prospective volunteers, especially if smaller, locally based organisations who are don’t have staff in the same countries that volunteers are from.
Also, providing “full and accurate information about the project and their placement” can be challenging with projects in developing countries where the needs of communities and people involved can change. The VSO approach to this is to ensure volunteers are prepared for change and can deal with a lack of detailed, specific information as this is the reality of volunteering in developing countries. It was not usually possible to give volunteers detailed information about what they would be doing.
The Responsible Tourism Partnership ethics also link to the campaign to highlight irresponsible volunteering projects and for volunteers to take ownership of reporting organisations who have mis-sold volunteering experiences.