So you have made the decision to take the leap, and tackle that important trip! Whether you are planning to study abroad, or volunteering as part of a group, chances are you need to fundraise to help pay for the trip. Fundraising can be daunting and stressful, especially if this is your first rodeo. There are countless ways to raise the money needed, and you can get as simple or creative as you like. Whatever you decide to do to raise funds, here are some principles that will help relieve stress and ensure you hit your goal:
1. Don’t panic, but do plan ahead:
If your trip is outside of the country, and especially outside of the continent, odds are the price is pretty high. Step one is not to panic. But riding on the coattails of step one is the second step: plan ASAP! Procrastinating on fundraising is a great way to raise the stress level related to the trip. Even though it may seem overwhelming, implementing a plan early on will help in reaching your goal and minimizing stress and anxiety. It is never too early to start planning and executing fundraising activities.
So where does one start when constructing a fundraising plan? Start by writing out a few things. First, how much do you need to raise? This will not just be for airfare and lodging, but other costs such as food or toiletries as well. Next, strategize some ideas of how to raise the funds needed (see below for some ideas on this). Be sure to stay aware of any costs related to your fundraising events, and make sure that you don’t take too many risks and spend money that you might not make back. Costs will be an estimate, of course, but it is important to think through before implementing any plans. Your plan should also include a rough timeline that breaks your fundraising into bite-sized sections that gives you plenty of time and opportunities to raise money before the trip. For more on how to plan your trip like an expert, see this article.
2. Start with the basics:
There is no need to reinvent the wheel to start raising awareness about your trip. Social media is a primary tool that can be used. Do not be afraid to use your personal accounts to get the word out and get a head start on fundraising! GoFundMe has become one of the primary ways to raise money as well; if your team doesn’t have a page already, make sure to get one set up, and set one up for yourself as well for your family and friends! Finally, letters are an old-school way to win the hearts of people, especially older generations. Parents and grandparents will appreciate the personal touch (hint: this one is tedious, but typically worth the time). You can reach out to family (including extended family), friends, your religious community, co-workers, classmates, and clubs. One final note on this; be sure to clearly communicate what the trip is all about and why it is important. People want to hear about it, and this is a great opportunity to generate excitement about what you are doing! Also, always be considerate and appreciative of any support that people are willing to give.
3. Don’t forget about events:
Establishing and implementing the basics should really jump-start fundraising. However, in most cases, these steps will not be enough, particularly if a rich uncle doesn’t come out of the woodwork to help you (which sometimes does happen). In this case, it may be time to kick it up a notch. Planning events can be a great way to raise money. Barbeques, talent shows, and auctions can all be great events that are not difficult to plan, and which can also feature local talented individuals, who are often more than willing to donate goods or services to gain exposure. One tip with this: be sure to charge for admission if appropriate. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but charging even a couple dollars for admission can boost revenue in a big way.
4. Ask businesses to help:
Finally, it can be amazing how willing businesses are to help with fundraisers. The most common are restaurants donating food or a percentage of their sales. Many places will actually build this into their budgets, so it is just a matter of who asks! Pizza places are often more than willing to donate pizzas, and other places that cater, such as Chipotle, are sometimes willing to donate as well (that is not to say that they will always be able to help you, but it is worth checking). Depending on what you want to do, you can also get donations for auctions, and things like 10% nights at certain restaurants. These are all easy ways to get you closer to your goal.
There you have it. Don’t be afraid to make and ask for generosity. Always be courteous and considerate, but it can be astonishing how generous people can be.