How to Raise Funds to Volunteer Abroad
Volunteering abroad is one of the easiest ways to achieve a sense of self satisfaction and of contributing to the global society in a meaningful way. Traveling abroad for international volunteer or internship service is a growing trend because participants can also gain valuable learning and cultural experience. Some volunteers even take such programs as coop credits towards their degree.
Most organizations in the industry charge thousands of dollars for just a couple of weeks abroad, and very few organizations like CrossContinental.org that can provide affordable international programs. However, even the most affordable programs will cost money since you will need accommodation, meals, support, and airfare. To participate in these programs, you will need to either have enough savings or can raise funds successfully. For instance, the most affordable program fees can start from US$180 for 1 week to $2300 for 6 months. On top of that, you are also responsible for registration fee, airfare, and personal spending. If you are a student or someone who has just started in your career coughing up this much money may not be that easy. Fortunately, lots of volunteers have successfully fund-raised for their entire volunteer abroad trip and even had extras for another trip or donations to the project itself.
A good way of raising funds is by approaching people who are interested in your cause and have the financial ability to sponsor you. Successful fundraising usually cost very little but reach a large audience. Fundraising can be a fun and fulfilling experience. It is important to be willing to speak out and approach others. The following tips can be helpful to follow.
1) Think Who You Know and Make a List
- This list can include personal contacts (such as friends, family, neighbors, etc.), professional contacts (such as classmates, teachers, coworkers, supervisors, doctors, etc.), and local groups and organizations (such as local churches, religious groups, political groups, community groups, club members, companies, etc.).
- You want to have as many people as possible in this list since it doesn’t hurt to ask. By asking, even if some are not able to donate, at least you can get the word out. You can even ask your contacts to forward your fundraising letter to their contacts in order to reach more people.
2) Be Clear of Your Reasons for Volunteering
- A passion to help these less fortunate and a desire to make a difference to the global community will bring in donations. Write out your reasons for volunteering and always keep these reasons in mind while fundraising. Explain your reasons when you write fundraising letters or when you talk face to face in fundraising events.
3) Ask for a Specific Amount of Donations
- You can tell people how much you are trying to fund-raise and highlight specific amounts in your letter, from $5 to $500. Be aware that most people will check the lowest amount possible.
4) Hold Inexpensive Events
- If you would like the chance to talk face to face about fundraising with people, you can hold a simple house warming party or tea party. On the invitation, you can indicate that this simple party is meant to raise awareness for volunteering abroad and for fundraising. You can try to be creative and make it fun to attend. By sharing pictures, ideas, and plans, you can show that little contributions can go a long way overseas.
5) Create a Sense of Urgency and Always Follow Up
- Give potential sponsors a deadline and send them friendly reminders with the progress you are making. Sharing how much closer you are getting toward your goal over time will motivate people to donate. It is important to send reminders and follow up so that people don’t forget about it.
6) Offer Something in Return
- It is always smart to offer something in return. It can be as simple as your dairy via email or sharing your pictures/videos. For companies or groups, you can even offer to give a presentation about your experience upon return.
7) Have a Goal and Create Benchmarks
- As soon as you enroll into our programs, you should develop a fundraising plan. Set a goal for each fundraising activity. For each fundraising activity and for each time period, set up a goal with an amount you want to raise. After each activity and each period, compare the actual amount raised to the initial goal. It is important to remember what works and do not repeat mistakes.
8) Make it Convenient for People to Donate
- Clearly indicate different ways of donating. For the maximum convenience, it is recommended to accept as many payment methods as possible, such as email money transfer, check, money order, credit card, and PayPal.
- To make it easy for these who want to donate by PayPal or by credit card, you should have an online fundraising site. See below for how to create an online fundraising site for free and start taking credit card donations in minutes.
9) Create an Online Fundraising Site
- You can easily create a fundraising site for free within minutes. Click here to create a site and start collecting donations.
- It is important to use the above link (www.gofundme.com/sign-up/?aff=ccs) and keep your network as CrossContinental. At your fund-raising site, you should make sure that you can see our logo and a link to our website (www.CrossContinental.org). This can show people that you are formally enrolled into our volunteer abroad program and give you credibility for your fundraising activities.
10) Write Well Targeted Letters
- In the letter, you should provide:
- some background on the project you want to join,
- explain your reasons for volunteering abroad,
- invite them to your online fundraising site and to your fundraising events,
- ask for specific amounts of donations,
- indicate clearly how to donate,
- create a sense of urgency,
- This letter can be sent by email or by traditional mail or both.
- Try to keep the letters and emails short and simple.
11) Recognize your Donors and Give Publicity
- You should write a personalized thank you note to all your sponsors.
- Give recognition and publicity to all the companies who contributed. Local press coverage can also help.
12) Plan Ahead and Have Backup Options
- You should start as early as possible and keep in mind that fundraising will take time and effort.
- In the end, if you are still short a certain amount, your backup option can be taking a small loan from a bank or from a personal contact. If you have a creditworthy reputation, you will easily manage to get a loan for your trip.
Fundraising may not be the most ideal solution for everyone. Some volunteers simply prefer to save up first instead of asking for sponsorships. With our affordable programs abroad, it is very feasible to for students to save up for the trip. Whether or not to fund-raise depends on your personality, how many quality contacts you have, and how dedicated you are to fundraising.
This article is provided by CrossContinental, which offers affordable and flexible volunteer abroad and intern abroad programs to worldwide participants. For more information, please check out the website at: http://www.crosscontinental.org. For pictures and videos of volunteers and interns abroad, please go to:
- Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/crosscontinental,
- YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/ccsorg.