There isn’t a better way to travel around the world with a purpose than by volunteering! In this series on alternative tourism we are covering popular international volunteer programs for young adults to participate in. If you feel that you’re ready to share knowledge with others, learn new skills, and boost your life experience, read on! In this article we will talk about ways to arrange sponsors to back your volunteering trip through fundraising. You will find practical tips and resources to help you plan your steps towards achieving your financial goal.
What to Consider Upfront
Plan your budget thoroughly and consider expenses related to travel, visas, and living costs. First you need to draw up a list of all the things you might need to budget for. These may include food and accommodation, transportation, equipment, vaccinations, a first aid kit, clothes, phone expenses, emergency funds, etc. Once you have a full picture of your expenses, go ahead and estimate the costs for the duration of your stay. To help you with that, use websites such as Numbeo, BestPlaces, or SmartAsset that break down typical costs and compare them with your current location.
Be as specific as possible. For example, if you are going to volunteer on a farm and need additional equipment, list everything, e.g. boots, gloves, hats, etc. including sizes and how many of each item you need. This will come in handy when you need to flesh out the particulars of your fundraising campaign online.
Now that you have a better picture of what resources you need, consider starting an online fundraiser using one of the crowdfunding platforms.
Create an Online Fundraiser
Crowdfunding platforms allow anyone to start an online fundraising campaign and personalize it according to the cause. You can raise money for yourself, family, and friends and gather support for just about anything, including medical expenses, education fees, volunteer programs, youth sports, etc. Platforms provide secure payment methods, and you can withdraw your balance and transfer it directly to your bank account within two to five working days. Although crowdfunding platforms are free, they charge a transaction fee of up to 5%. And this is something to consider when setting the final amount as the goal on the platform. Here is a list of crowdfunding platforms:
Add a S.M.A.R.T. Description of Your Campaign
Just as with any other goal, the fundraising process can be designed in the form of a S.M.A.R.T. objective. This will help your supporters better understand why your project is valuable. Here is a breakdown of how to write an informative description for the main page of your online fundraiser:
Specific. Provide details about your background and the volunteer program you are planning to attend. Include information on where you are going, the dates, the cause you will be helping and what you are already doing in order to fund this trip. Elaborate on how your skills will be put to work and what kind of impact you’re hoping to have.
Measurable. While some items on your list can be crossed off with the help of donations (clothes, equipment), others will require money. On top of expenses, keep in mind ATM fees and exchange rates in a foreign country.
Attainable. Be realistic about the funds you hope to raise. Time your fundraiser close to your birthday and/or Christmas and other holidays, so that you can ask for donations in place of gifts.
Relevant. How can a short trip abroad and the contribution of one volunteer affect the local community? Talk about applying your skills to solving the problem you will be addressing as well as ways to raise awareness about the issue.
Time-bound. Starting early and publishing the deadline way in advance of your expected travel dates is the key to stress-free preparation.
Now that your Crowdfunding page is set, consider hosting fundraising events as part of your campaign.
Seven Fundraiser Ideas
To raise awareness about your volunteering trip, involve people in your online and offline community. Share your ideas and utilize personal and local resources such as skills, connections, and local businesses to help you raise funds. Bring people together for a great cause and have fun with these seven fundraising ideas.
Host a Themed Fundraising Event
For this consider the venue, activities to entertain your guests, and ways to advertise the event. It could be a concert, a master class, an exhibition, or a dinner party. Negotiate with a local museum, a school or a youth centre to provide a venue or host the event at home. Contact local restaurants and businesses for support in exchange for publicity and set an entrance fee for guests. Themed fundraisers are a great way to utilize your skills and the community’s resources.
Host a birthday party with a “No gift policy”. Let your guests know about your goal and invite them to contribute a small sum towards it. Alternatively, start a Facebook Birthday Fundraiser. To do that, click “Fundraisers” in the left menu of your News Feed, click “Raise money” and then select “yourself”, add a category and a cover photo as well as details about your fundraiser. You must be at 18 years old to create a personal fundraiser.
Social Media Challenges
Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? In August 2014, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association launched a social media challenge, where participants would dump buckets of icy-cold water over their heads and then challenge three friends to do the same or donate to the ALS Association. The campaign not only went viral, it raised $115 million dollars within the eight-week period that the challenge was hosted. To start a challenge like that, consider creating a unique hashtag, a slogan, and a fun challenge that people will be willing to take on!
Sometime charitable organizations host marathons or 5K runs to help raise funds for a cause. For a virtual marathon, invite participants to sign up and pay a registration fee. You can even send them event packages to help the event feel more real. Set a day and time for all participants to join you for a run in the location of their choice. Use social media to share the time of the race and prepare some gifts for the winners!
Instagram filters can be used for more than just for fun, these are tools of Augmented Reality (AR). They are basically computer-generated images that are added to a user’s real view of the world. Get creative, come up with interactive games, timed questions or simply promote a cause. Use websites like Spark AR Studio to create customized filters.
Similar to a raffle hosted at a live benefit event, you can host a similar fundraiser through social media. Create a post with an appealing image, announce prizes to be given out amongst supporters, and add a link to the fundraising platform. To make this experience more interactive, you can host a live stream on Facebook and Instagram and draw the winners live.
Online Garage Sales
De-clutter your house and find a new home for unwanted items in addition to raising funds for your trip! Sell clothes, books, pieces of décor or handmade crafts on platforms like Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist.
As an African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Get creative, ask for support, and your community will back up your fundraising efforts.
Photos: Shutterstock / edited by: Martina Advaney
Read more about alternative tourism and opportunities to volunteer!
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