A significant number of tourists now wish to combine their concern for the degradation of the environment with their vacation activities. This concern, together with the need for educated people to work on ecological and scientific projects, has led to the emergence of a small but growing number of UK organisations that bring together paying volunteers and research projects to support research into sustainable development. There is little academic literature on the organisations that provide this travel service. The article examines key dynamics of the research volunteer market examined with data from questionnaire responses, interviews and observation. The article uses Porter's five forces model and the Strategic Position and Action Evaluation (SPACE) framework to strategically analyse this sector. The findings suggest that none of the five forces are strong enough to depress profits and therefore, the balance sheets should be healthy; however, this is not always the case. Consequently, the SPACE factors that appear related to the financial viability of the firms are explored. In conclusion, firms have the ability to make a substantial contribution to environmental sustainability and their survival is important; however, the risks of operating in this sector are relatively high.