Let’s say you find an amazing volunteering opportunity aligned to your passion and skills
abroad, but you encounter some huge roadblocks once you begin thinking about the overall cost of such an endeavor. Don’t be defeated!
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If your volunteering stay is linked to a student program or an agency that is geared toward college students, then it goes without saying to look into scholarships, but if you are a recent graduate or are volunteering with a non-profit organization that isn’t attached to a larger agency, then get ready to engage in some fundraising. Here are three pointers to help you get started.
Create a detailed budget with a narrative!
You needn’t be an accountant to create an itemized budget of all your expenses, but creating a list of all your expenses will allow you to identify your urgent needs. A budget pushes you to do research on the web and allows you to put an exact price to your stay. How much is your airfare? Are you getting the most competitive price? Are you staying in an apartment when you could potentially do a home-stay with a family after talking to your on-the-ground volunteer coordinator? How much is food locally, and where would you get it? What will you do about traveler’s health insurance plans and medicines? Local transportation? Writing a budget will force you to ask these questions.
Your budget should also tell a story or a narrative. Every cost should be justified and tied toward furthering your contribution to your volunteering stay. You should highlight currency conversion rates along with your personal daily allowance for food and travel costs. Treat the budget like a contract when you share it with would-be donors. You don’t want them to feel like they’re funding an extended vacation.
Crowdfund, crowdfund, crowdfund!
We have all heard of sites like Indiegogo where talented or visionary individuals with a project or an idea seek funding from the masses. Add your voice to theirs. Lead with honesty and develop a brief statement on why you need this funding and how it will enable you to perform your volunteering tasks more effectively.
Don’t let your project remain faceless. Record a video and tell your audience directly your fundraising platform. This is a requirement of many crowdfunding sites. Your personality and passion will distinguish your project from others.
Offer your would-be donors incentives of practical value. If you have a skill that can be easily transferred across the web, then offer that on a tiered scale when you set up your service. Maybe you can speak another language, are an accomplished artist, or plan events professionally. Search through your memory banks. You could offer lessons over Skype or Google Hangout in your skill, or you could ship a unique painting or handicraft to your donor. You could put together an event plan for a birthday party. Whatever you can do well, offer it. Donors like to feel like they’re receiving something in return for their donation.
With crowdfunding platforms, be aware of which ones let you keep the funding if you don’t quite make your goal. Indiegogo is one of the few crowdfunding platforms that will allow you to keep your funding if your campaign doesn’t make it.
Develop a network of local donors
Neither extroversion is a necessity of developing a network of local donors, nor do you have to analyze complicated metrics to create this list. You know people who know people. Start with your friends and family, list who would be most likely to donate, and consider who they know. Do you belong to a church? Do you volunteer locally? Do you belong to any charitable organizations or know of any in the area that would make a small donation to your cause?
Reach out to these individuals. Lead with your statement on why you need the funding and your budget to justify it. Offer these donors the same incentives that you would online. You can diversify your services for them, selling babysitting nights and tutoring sessions for their children, garden, or do housework for them. If you have special skills, exchange these for donations.
After you’ve finished your volunteering stay abroad, come back to your donors and send them a personalized thank-you. Make it unique. You could use postcards created from your photographs to send in the mail or online. Make it warm, thanking them by their first names, and tell them what their exact donation bought whether it be food or a percentage of your flight. Share a small tidbit about your experience. You don’t want to write a novel, but you want your donor to know the exact impact that your volunteering work had. Maybe you taught for a month, helped build homes, or worked in nursing. Share it with your donors to let them know that they too have made a difference.