10 ways to fundraise for your volunteer trip

12 June 2017

It’s often surprising how the costs of volunteering abroad can start to add up. Volunteers are usually expected to cover travel costs, accommodation, meals, and a fee to cover the administrative costs of the project hosting volunteers. When you understand that taking volunteers can cost an organisation a substantial amount of money (depending on things like accommodation, staff, transfers etc), volunteers don’t mind handing over the project fee.

Remember, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the communities and wildlife you are supporting depend on people like you! Don’t let the costs of your adventure get you down. There are lots of ways to raise money to help you offset your costs and realise your dream.

Here are ten of the easiest and most achievable ways that previous volunteers have told us they raised their money:

1. Create a fundraising website or page which allows people to donate easily.

There are lots of fundraising websites out there. One of the ones we like the best is Fund and Seek, which is free to set up and has a social media integration so you can share updates and pictures. Spend time on your page to make it engaging and clear.

2. Explain why you are volunteering

Talk to your potential donors about why you want to fundraise and what you hope to achieve by volunteering. Make sure your audience understand your campaign - write about where you are going, the organisation you are volunteering for and what you’re going to be doing. We can help with this for one of our projects!

Describe what has happened in your life that has contributed to your decision to volunteer in your chosen project, give more details on the nature of the program you have selected, or ways that you believe your experience is an investment in your future, as well as supporting the project. Make donating as easy as possible. Always follow up with thank you letters or emails!

3. Use your relationships

Use social media to spread the word about your campaign and regularly update your network on your progress, even after the deadline is closed and you are actually at the project.

Think about who you know that could help you. Perhaps you have a family member who works in a large company that could sponsor you; or a friend could get you a venue for a fundraising evening. Make a list of all the people you know and how they might be able to contribute towards your goals - not necessarily just financially. Every tiny bit of money helps!

4. Communicate

Write letters and emails to individuals, and specific individuals within companies, to ask for their support. Start with your friends and family - ask for donations instead of birthday and Christmas presents. Fundraise at work - tell your work colleagues about your plans; advertise on staff notice boards and intranets. Creative ways to engage your co-workers could include raffles, dress-up days, cake days and BBQs.

5. Hold a fundraiser

The more interesting and unique the event is, the more attention it will get. For example, if you are going to South Africa, you could hold a food and wine evening focusing on South African wines and cuisine - people can pay to attend and the profits go to your trip. Ask local businesses to donate products (merchandise, gift certificates, vouchers etc) for a raffle and sell tickets at the evening. You’ll be surprised at how many businesses will want to contribute!

There are unlimited ways to raise money with events - pub quizzes, car washes, house cleaning, chores, movie nights and car boot sales are a few other ideas.

6. Use local resources

Research local civic groups such as Rotary, Round Table, Elks, Kiwanis, Lions Club etc who might be interested in sponsoring you. Offer to hold a presentation about the project and country when you return. Think about putting an announcement in a high school or college newsletter, or a fraternity / sorority letter, to get more financial support.

If you go to church or another place or worship, talk to the leaders who might be willing to organise a special collection or even sponsor you directly!

7. 15 minutes of fame!

Talk to local newspapers, radio and TV about your plans for volunteering and see if they are interested in partnering with you for your efforts. Offer to do regular updates or an interview when you return, or write an article about the cause or organisation you are fundraising for to ask for donations.

8. Set a realistic goal

Start with a clear goal of how much you need to raise and record your progress. Some things might not work, and others might blow you away with success! Ask for specific donations so you know how many donors you need to reach. Approach your biggest benefactor first as people often follow the leader! Even $5 or $10 helps to achieve your goal.

9. Start saving

As well as fundraising, you might be able to save some money from your job, or take a part time job to help you save more.

10. Other ideas:

Here are a few other ideas for creative fundraising!
- Collect used cell phones and ink cartridges from local businesses and friends and recycle them
- Do yard work in your neighbourhood
- Run errands
- Collect old clothes, books, CDs etc and hold a sale

There are so many ways to find all the cash you need to take you on your travels. So don’t let money get in the way – simply put your fundraising hat on and you’ll be on your way in no time!

Looking for inspiration on where to volunteer? Take a look at our volunteer programmes here!

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