Excellence Without Borders

Stereotypes are everywhere.  HI-USA is a nonprofit all about using travel and hostel experiences to eliminate negative stereotypes about people from different cultures and different backgrounds.

As it turns out, American consumers hold a number of strong stereotypes about the differences between for-profits and nonprofits.   Based on consumer research, people think that:

          For-profits are … competent, efficient and effective.

          Nonprofits are … warm, kind and generous.

When thinking about any particular organization, most people tend to ascribe one or the other qualities, but not both.   (For example, it’s difficult for an organization — nonprofit or for-profit — to be perceived as both warm and competent.)  Of course there are exceptions; Ben and Jerry’s is the textbook example. 

Then along comes the 2013 Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design, with over 260 projects nominated from around the world.  Unlike many awards, both for-profit and nonprofit entries are assessed without regard for their commercial status.  We are talking the best of the best.

The three 2013 worldwide finalists for the Eco/Socially Conscious category were:

Two are for-profit hotel properties, and of course the HI-Boston hostel is part of HI-USA.   It’s great news, and it’s well deserved recognition for the talented team of architects and HI-USA staff who worked on the project.   

Here’s what the judges say about HI-Boston:  Designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification in an adaptively reused building, the hostel includes sustainable features such as high-recycled-content furniture and regionally sourced building materials, but it also offers local flair with touches like a color scheme that reflects Boston’s major subway lines – red, orange green and blue. 

As a nonprofit, HI-USA is certainly aware of our differences in intention and focus compared to others in the hospitality arena.  There is no doubt we are different– and we are proud of what we do! 

Importantly, in how we choose to do it, we also are addressing a stereotype quite separate from mission work: that nonprofits can be both warm and competent, kind and efficient, generous and effective.

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