In March of 2014, Sean and I traveled to Bali, Indonesia, to participate in the Teaching English Programme offered by International Volunteer Headquarters, or IVHQ. (Read more about that amazing experience here.)
We began planning our trip 10 months in advance. Not only did this allow us significant time to get organized and plan our time off of work, but it also allowed us ample time for fundraising. It took a lot of time and effort, but we were absolutely ecstatic (and totally surprised) to raise a total of $4,561.00 CAD prior to our departure on February 28, 2014.
Here’s how we did it:
Cash Donations from Friends & Family – $2,685.00
We were incredibly humbled by, and overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity of our amazing friends and family members. By utilizing the crowdfunding site gofundme.com, reaching out via e-mail, Facebook, and in person, and by suggesting donations instead of birthday and christmas gifts, we were able to raise a staggering $2,685.00 from 23 different donors. To this day, we still have trouble finding the words to properly express our gratitude and love for all of the incredible people who helped us experience something so incredible.
Bottle Drive(s) – $346.00
We collected and returned empty bottles and cans from our friends, families, coworkers, workplaces and local businesses for several months leading up to our departure and were able to generate $346.00. This one was smelly and sticky but fairly easy to do.
Fundraiser Concert & Silent Auction – $914.00
I am a hobby singer/songwriter and musician, and with the help of some other talented and generous musicians in my circle, a local bar and the generosity of several donations of auction items, we were able to facilitate a small fundraiser that included live music and a silent auction. It was a really fun way to spend time with our friends and family and raise $914.00.
Yard Work – $250.00
One of our generous donors offered to make a donation in exchange for help with some yard work around her house. We spent a few afternoons helping her out and were able to raise $250.00.
Stella & Dot Fundraiser – $155.00
I reached out to a mutual friend who is a sales rep for Stella & Dot Jewelry, and she generously offered to host TWO jewelry parties at our house and donate a percentage of the profits. This could also possibly be done if you have a friend who sells something like Epicure, Pampered Chef, Tupperware or Avon. Through this, we raised $155.00.
GRAND TOTAL: $4,561.00
4 Tips for Successful Fundraising
1. Have a copy of your Verification Letter and a detailed, personally-written information page ready at all times.
When sending out email enquiries to local businesses – or when reaching out to friends and family for donations – it is a good idea to include a copy of your verification letter, just for added proof of your participation in the program. We also had a generalized letter that we sent out to all of those who we asked for support (read it here). We even went one step further, and had an entire BLOG dedicated to our fundraising, preparation, and experience. (This was before Adventure To Anywhere existed.) It took a fair amount of effort to put this all together, but it was extremely effective – and a huge time saver in the future – when asking for support and donations. You can check out the blog we created here.
2. Be Passionate.
Keep in mind that you are asking people to give you their hard-earned money so that YOU can go and travel to somewhere amazing. Yes, you are doing something incredible, and yes, you will be working hard to better this planet, but in order to convince these people to support you, your passion will have to be evident and entirely infectious. Believe in your cause and others will believe in it, too!
3. Do Your Research and Know Your Programme.
People WILL ask you questions before offering their support. What exactly will you be doing during your volunteer placement? Where will you be staying? How do you plan to make a difference? Why do you want to do this? What are your goals? Be prepared to answer all of these questions and more before you start reaching out.
4. Thank your donors!
Upon our return from Bali, we sent out hand-written thank you cards, along with 3-4 photos of our volunteer experience, to all of our generous friends and family members who had donated to us. It took a few hours and cost us about $100 for the cards, the photos, and all of the postage, but it was absolutely worth it and was very much appreciated by everyone who made those donations to us.
Below are a few other unique fundraising ideas that we considered, but didn’t end up having time for.
Yoga / Pilates / Spin Fundraiser
Do you have a friend who is a fitness instructor of some sort? Ask them if they’d be willing to volunteer their time to teach a donation-based fundraiser class. Invite all of your friends on an entrance-by-donation basis, and enjoy something fun, exciting and challenging together!
Launch a pre-purchase calendar fundraiser, where your friends and family make a donation (either a set amount or whatever they want). Keep track of your donations, and, upon your return, turn your travel photos into a beautiful calendar for the following year and distribute them to your donors. This can be done inexpensively through online programs, iMac programs, or at your local print shop
Host a garage sale – either with set prices or a “By Donation” sale (have a small sign explaining your upcoming volunteer placement and a copy of your verification letter ready). Advertise in your local paper and enjoy the added bonus of freeing up space from clutter in your home!
What are some of the most effective ways you have raised money for a cause?