Crooked Trails, a Seattle based nonprofit works to ensure that tourism is a positive force in the world. It helps people broaden their understanding of the impact of travel on the world’s cultures and ecosystems through educational outreach and sustainable travel programs. With guides in 30 countries, the nonprofit directly serves around 150-200 travelers annually.
We spoke to Co-founder and Executive Director, Christine T. Mackay.
Who are your supporters and how do you communicate with them?
We have a core group of donors who are mainly people who have been on our trip or just support the work we do. We have a host of volunteers, they come in and out for events and to help us with anything that we need help with. Then of course, we have our Board of Directors. We have been communicating with them over email and phone but have begun to use LiveImpact to improve our engagement with them.
What has been your most successful project over the last couple of years?
Our stove building project in Peru. Villagers in high altitude in Peru burn wood to cook their food and they don’t have any ventilation in their homes. Smoke just accumulates in the rooms and asthma and lung problems are chronic. These really inefficient stoves don’t create much heat, are dirty and waste wood.
So, we started building smokeless ovens and this new system enables them to burn less wood. It raises the ambient temperature by 20 degrees, so the home is heated and at high altitude in Peru, that’s a big deal. And we created a ventilation system in the house so the smoke is released.
We then added a line for the water to go through the heating system. So, now they have hot running water in their home as well. We have been able to do these in two villages – we completed one entire village and are working on completing another village.
Has the importance of technology changed over time in your work?
It’s more important for sure! And I think the main thing for us was finding a platform that would enable all of the different things that we do to come together and that’s why we chose LiveImpact. This is the answer to a big dilemma we’ve had in the past which is using around five different systems… we are now bringing it down to two – LiveImpact and Quickbooks.
What do you use LiveImpact for?
Crowd-fundraising is huge now. One of the things I was excited about moving over to LiveImpact was that it’s going to be so much cheaper to crowd-fund. When we use wepay and a couple of other platforms, they take out a significant chunk. That’s just less money that goes to the project and I always found that frustrating. So, that was a key point in my deciding to come over to LiveImpact because now I know that, first of all I can do it directly on my site, it’s all in one place and it costs less. That’s been great! It means more money goes towards our cause rather than to vendors. We use it to raise donations online for our Fund Drives. We’ll soon be doing more charity treks and charity fundraising where individuals who are traveling with us need to raise funds for the projects they partake in. I’m excited about that!
Another aspect it has helped us is to store our documents online rather than them being on individual computers. This has helped us organize and share documents more easily. We also use it for our application forms and newsletter subscriptions. It’s quite easy to enable the forms on our site and gather information from applicants and subscribers.
More information on Crooked Trails and their travel programs is available on their website.