Volunteering abroad is an amazing way to travel, experience a new culture, and make friends while using your skills and time to help others. It could be a real life-changing experience for both you and the community you volunteer for. However, people are often surprised by the expenses that are incurred as a result of volunteering abroad. Volunteers are required to spend money on flight tickets, food, housing, visas and health insurance, and it all adds up in the end.
While you may not have the financial means to embark on a volunteering trip right away, you shouldn’t let a financial obstacle hold you back. There are many creative ways to raise money to help offset the costs of a volunteering trip! One of them is to set up a fundraising page, and here is how you can get started with one.
1. Create the fundraising page
Currently there are a number of peer fundraising websites—like JustGiving or GoFundMe—where you can easily create your own crowdfunding page. We particularly like Fund and Seek which not only allows you to create a custom fundraising page that you can direct your potential donors to, but also to integrate your page with your social media channels.
2. Tell a compelling story
As you’re setting up your fundraising campaign, the most important thing to do is to tell a compelling story. Focus on the following while you’re writing about your campaign:
- Your reasons for volunteering: describe your volunteering position (will you be teaching English, serving as a graphic designer, or going on a medical mission?), and explain the motivation behind your wish to take on this volunteering opportunity.
- How you will add value to the host community.
- Why you are passionate about this project.
- What you hope to achieve with this opportunity.
- Most importantly, why you need the funds for this trip. Those of us experienced with international volunteering know that it can be expensive, but your potential donors may not know that you have to pay a program fee, travel insurance or airfare.
3. Share your page
Spread the word as much as you can! Start by tapping into your core network: parents, family, friends, past teachers, co-workers, or anyone whom you know and trust and who will be comfortable donating to your cause. You can then share your page with your extended network. Promote the page by using as many social media channels as you have available to you, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , LinkedIn and WhatsApp.
4. Ask your contacts to share your page
Utilise your network to share your page with others. When you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts as well to make your campaign known to a larger network.
5. Keep people’s attention with new posts
Continue to tell stories of your experiences volunteering abroad if you have any, and keep everyone updated with your progress. For example, you can write about the following:
- What you are doing to prepare for you volunteer trip.
- Your feelings in anticipation of going abroad.
- Something about the country you’re about to visit, or about the cause you’re going to support.
Many potential donors may not be aware of the reality within the country you are traveling to, or why volunteer work is important to that particular community. The more engaging and vivid your stories and pictures are, the more they can connect with your enthusiasm for the project, and the more they will want to support your cause.
6. Take advantage of holidays and special events
Use holidays and special events as an opportunity to show everyone your campaign page. You may ask for donations to your campaign as a Christmas or birthday gift. You might even do the same for a graduation or a wedding/engagement party.
7. Thank your donors publicly
It is always nice to publicly acknowledge people who have helped you, so that everyone can see that someone has contributed to your campaign. This will help get additional donations from others.
8. Keep sharing!
Once you’ve posted your campaign to social media, keep the momentum going! Social media posts only stay relevant for about 24 hours, so it’s important to continually go back and post as often as possible. We recommend posting at least three times a week, and choosing different times throughout the day to post. Your campaign will only be successful in raising funds if you continue to share your campaign everywhere as often as you can. People may need several reminders before they take action! And don’t hesitate to use your campaign timeline to create a sense of urgency, especially towards the end.
One last tip…
You may not get the level of responses you’d hoped for. Sometimes it helps if you ask people to donate specific amounts and to remind them the cause you are supporting. For example, you might try saying, “Please consider donating just $20 towards my volunteer trip to Cambodia. I’ll be working for a non-profit dedicated to helping young women in the local community.”