Not Your Ordinary Tourist Destination

Tourism. A word we in the nonprofit sector don’t often relate to our work. After attending the Uppertunities Conference, my thinking has shifted. What if tourism actually benefited many of the nonprofit causes in the Upper Peninsula, both directly and indirectly?

First, lets look at how tourism can directly benefit some Upper Peninsula nonprofits. If your nonprofit has an event in the U.P. that people would travel up to attend or you make a product in the U.P., there are many resources available through Pure Michigan’s website ( that can help you get on the trip planner. If your organization hosts a larger event that draws people into the area, you can add it to the Pure Michigan calendar. If you’re a place that people may want to visit, you can also set up a profile that potential visitors can view to find out more about your attraction. You are able to link to your website and social media accounts. There are also opportunities to invest in co-op advertising through Pure Michigan and your local Convention and Visitors Bureau. Finally, your organization can use the Pure Michigan logo. There is a very easy Logo Request process and takes about one week to have your design approved by Pure Michigan’s team.

Another idea gaining steam in the area is that of Voluntourism. Voluntourism is when people visit an area to vacation and volunteer. This type of travel is more common when people are traveling abroad, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening domestically too. When operating, I would field 2-3 requests each year from people coming to the area that were interested in volunteering while here. Having volunteer opportunities that don’t require a huge amount of training and can be done in short shifts can make you the prime organization to “voluntour” with.

Tourism has a huge impact on our local economies. When businesses have a good tourism season, it impacts nonprofits. When recruiting donors and sponsors, nonprofits should take tourism into consideration. Was there someone visiting that you referred to the business? Did you bring something that promoted a local business with you when you were traveling? These could be great conversation starters when approaching businesses that you know are affected by seasonal travelers.

People are realizing the Upper Peninsula is a great place to visit. With an influx of summer visitors, remember to keep visitors in mind while working to meet your mission.

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